England rugby sponsor O2 said yesterday that they would be sticking by the hapless fellows in white. The company points out that they support more than just the men’s senior side, being one of the sponsors for the women’s team as well as England’s youth sides. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t get away from the fact that they have spent millions of pounds aligning their brand with a supposedly elite but ultimately losing team.
But I have a suggestion for O2 and all the other sponsors and brands that have been leveraging England’s hosting of and participation in the World Cup in their advertising.
Choose a different country to support.
It’s what fans do when faced with the early exit of their team from a tournament. It’s the only way to maintain interest. In fact it can get quite exciting. I should know. Being a fan of England’s rugby, football and cricket teams, I’ve had plenty of practice at adopting another team after my country’s premature exit. For the 2014 football World Cup, I switched my allegiance to Brazil, the hosts. When the English cricket team were knocked out by Bangladesh in this year’s cricket World Cup, I plumped for New Zealand, who made it all the way to the final before being beaten by those damned Aussies. It was exciting.
So why don’t 02, Lucozade Sport, Samsung and the rest take a leaf out of my book of never-say-die and pick another team to throw their weight behind for the remainder of the tournament. I’m not suggesting that they reshoot their expensive TV ads with men in green, blue or black instead of white. But what about social media? It’s the perfect way to launch an impromptu, inexpensive, alternative campaign that is inherently ‘social’ as it aligns itself with the way that the sports fan thinks.
02 applauding Les Bleus? Lucozade Sport being good sports and cheering the Aussies? It could be fun. It would certainly give brands something to shout about. England may have thrown their sponsors a ‘hospital pass’. But with a little nifty footwork, they can stay in the game.