Lips tightened, cats remain in bag for RWC marketing campaign

The first phase of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2011’s big international marketing effort will be launched in Auckland today and everyone involved is remaining extremely, disappointingly but impressively tight-lipped about the whole thing.

A horde of filthy journalists will join the RWC crew, his Royal Highness John Key and IRB head cheese Bernard Lapasset at the Sky City Grand at 2pm today to get their first glimpse of the tournament’s marketing arsenal, with the show comprising TVCs, print material, an online component, the retail campaign and New Zealand’s freshly squeezed tournament tune.

Jaspers says the soaring epic that is ‘World in Union’ will remain as the official Rugby World Cup tune and he wouldn’t comment on the rumours reported in today’s Herald that the new song would be a version of Jesus Jones’ 1991 number ‘Right here, right now’ performed by New Zealand’s most disliked and strangely successful band The Feelers (will it be better than Steve Allen’s Join Together, the theme song for the 1974 Commonwealth Games? And what’s wrong with an easy-to-sing Kiwi classic like oma rapiti?).

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Of course, no marketing campaign for a huge sporting occasion would be complete without some famous faces (StopPress predictions for RWC 2011 endorsements: William Shatner, Buck Shelford’s testicle, Fred Dagg, the Bro’ Town dad and Dame Catherine Tizard, as well as CGI holograms of Janet Frame, Edmund Hillary, Ernest Rutherford and Billy T James, presumably created by Peter Jackson in his magical lair). Jaspers confirmed there would indeed be a “bunch of New Zealand celebrities” featuring in the marketing campaigns and they would be joined by a range of “ordinary people”, too. Ah, good old Kiwi egalatarianism.

Clemenger BBDO in Wellington is the agency responsible for the material. But Jaspers was blunt about any sneaky insider tip-offs: “They won’t talk. They’re not allowed to talk.”

Not even sneaky moles within the Clemenger castle would give anything away about the campaign, the celebrities involved or the direction the campaign would take.

“I heard your Momma’s in it,” was the only piece of classified information the sneaky mole would release. “I admire your courage and bravery in the quest for knowledge. But I’m afraid we are sealed up tight. You’ll know all at 3pm.”

Jaspers says the RWC Facebook page, which has already managed to attract over 300,000 fans and is now New Zealand’s biggest Facebook site, is already a very important channel to interact with and disseminate information to the international rugby world and he says this existing network will make spreading the love that little bit easier.

Speaking with Paul Holmes on Q+A on Sunday, Martin Snedden, chief executive of RWC 2011, said the first few weeks of the campaign are designed to make people aware of the fact that the tournament’s coming, but also where the games are being played, what the prices of the tickets are and how they can get hold of them and, of course, some of the additional joys they can behold when they’re in the country.

“So we figure it’ll take about three or four weeks to warm people up to that, and then towards the end of April we’ll get cracking with the actual sales process,” he said.

He also said different rugby unions and commercial partners will be feeding out the information from the campaign to their networks. So he thinks there will be a reasonably strong awareness through the international rugby world soon after today’s release.

So far, even before public ticket sales are available, things are looking good. Jaspers says pre-sales for the official travel and hospitality packages, which are run through a different company called Rugby Travel Hospitality and have been available since January, are at 135,000, which is more than the total amount sold in Australia for the entire World Cup in 2003 and ahead of the numbers in the 2007 RWC in France.

Snedden is aiming for around 60,000 visitors for the cup and it’s estimated that four billion people will tune in around the world to watch.

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