Y&R scores Wellington Sevens account

While the problems at troubled retailer Postie Plus, which is currently searching for a buyer, are causing a few headaches for Y&R at present, it’s continued its winning ways elsewhere after being appointed as the creative lead for the 2015 Sevens Wellington campaign following a competitive tender process involving five Wellington agencies.

Clemenger BBDO hasn’t worked with the Sevens for a couple of years, and it’s not clear who had the account previously. 

UPDATE: Positively Wellington Tourism says “the Y&R contract is a case of new business as opposed to it being out to re-pitch. That’s because in most recent years we’ve not had the need for a lead creative agency on Sevens Wellington business. As part of the launch of a new-look Sevens Wellington, we this year went out to pitch as we work towards launching an exciting new campaign and experience.” 

Tim Ellis, Y&R’s newly appointed client service director in Wellington, says the Sevens is an important event for Wellington, so it was an honour to be awarded the business by Positively Wellington Tourism and the Wellington Rugby Football Union.

And Positively Wellington chief executive David Perks says Y&R impressed it “by pushing the creative boundaries in their campaign pitch while also keeping our business objectives at the forefront”.

Y&R’s new managing director Steve Kane says it’s been working hard on injecting a commercial creativity into its work. 

“So it’s great to see that getting recognised in this continued success that we’ve seen in the last year or so. And what a great brand to be able to work with.”

Crowd numbers at the Sevens over the years have been declining, with 69,000 in 2010, 62,805 in 2012, 60,426 in 2013, and 52,633 this year. This year’s tournament also received a fair bit of negative media attention after police criticised the crowd’s drunken behaviour, with some saying the party was over. But Westpac Stadium chief Shane Harmon told The Dominion Post that that the crowd was the best behaved for years, but the introduction of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act in December and how the act is policed led to a greater number of evictions. He said the show would definitely go on, whether fans were there for the sport or for the entertainment.  

From the stadium’s perspective this year’s sevens crowd was the best behaved in years. In fact we have seen a significant downward trend over the past six years in alcohol consumed at the stadium. This year we saw a 14 percent decline in beer consumption per patron year-on-year – and a 50 per cent decline since 2008. Wellington Free Ambulance’s stadium team treated 21 intoxicated patients this year from a crowd of nearly 60,000 – half the number treated in 2013. We ultimately wish to see this number reach zero.

… Those who argue that the party has significantly more appeal than the sport miss the point.

Sport and entertainment are now mutually entwined. Live sport competes with a multitude of other entertainment experiences. Social motivations and the entertainment experience often trump on-field factors for attendance.

The Wellington Sevens’ carnival atmosphere is one of its strengths, and it would be a mistake to diminish this. Sevens is escapism, a temporary suspension of everyday roles where we can dress up and have a lot of fun.

Every other sevens event wants to be Wellington. It is ultimately for the fan to decide whether they wish to attend for the sport or the entertainment, and we should not dictate.

But what we need is balance. We need continued improvements in our alcohol management processes. We need more education around harm prevention. But we also need individuals taking more personal responsibility. Would we rather usher in a period of new puritanism, where the behaviours of a few mean wholesale changes for the law-abiding, good-natured fans who drink responsibly?

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