‘Buy it—or I’ll come looking for you’: NZ Rugby World brings out a big gun for digital push

NZ Rugby World has made significant advancements in the digital space this year, launching its iPad edition, increasing the frequency of its eDm to weekly and growing its Facebook fan base to over 20,000 friends. And its latest promotional piece features one of the sport’s most promising players, Steven Luatua, who encourages viewers to buy a copy—or else. 

The promotional video, which was created by On Digital, is being used as a marketing piece on Facebook, Twitter and also in a digital campaign in November.

“We know there is an interest in our content on the international stage, with over 50 percent of our Facebook friends coming from outside of New Zealand,” says Tangible Media’s associate publisher Matthew Pert. “​This mirrors our digital downloads which have cracked over 9,000 in a relatively short period of time and we were excited to have Steven front this for us. He is a natural behind the camera and considering the tight time frame to work around his schedule and commitments, the team worked extremely quickly to turn this around. The end result is fantastic. It is also a nice connection as he is the cover story on the upcoming November edition.” 

Luatua recently featured in Duracell’s new All Blacks campaign and, interestingly, given the national team’s association with Adidas, he also has an endorsement deal with Nike (as can be seen in his choice of shirt), alongside Charles Piatau and Rene Ranger. Pert didn’t want to comment on the fee Luatua received for doing the promotion, aside from saying “it was huge”. 

NZ Rugby World’s average net paid circulation has actually increased since 2003, up from 7,600 to 8,208 in the latest survey. Readership, however, was down from 235,000 last year to 178,000, according to Nielsen. The decision to go down the digital road was to profit from the overseas interest in the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby in general, particularly in Wales, South Africa and Australia. 

Originally, NZ Rugby World offered free downloads of the first iPad edition when it launched in May, but the strategy has changed somewhat since then, with an offer of a 30 day free trial that requires users to commit to a subscription. And Pert says they’re seeing some good results in terms paid digital subscriptions from that change. 

Tangible has also recently launched the Dish iPad app and publisher John Baker says it’s fair to say that, like most publishers operating in this new realm, it’s still experimenting with strategy. 

“There’s been pretty significant uptake in Australia for both titles, and that’s not surprising given the more mature tablet market and the high penetration of iPads,” he says. “We’re getting more paid revenue out of Australia than New Zealand at the moment. And that was always our strategy, to take our brands to the international market.” 

  • Tangible Media and On Digital are part of the Image Centre Group, which also owns StopPress and NZ Marketing. 

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