Six Nations: Prepare for the tournament

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Related tags: World cup, Rugby union, Six nations, Rugby

Pub companies and drinks brands have been busy preparing for the Six Nations, hoping to help licensees capitalise on a sport whose popularity is...

Pub companies and drinks brands have been busy preparing for the Six Nations, hoping to help licensees capitalise on a sport whose popularity is surging forward like a member of the England front row.

Brains

Brains' sponsorship of the Welsh shirt continues to give it unique opportunities. Because of the agreement, the Welsh brewer and pubco is guaranteed a number of appearances each year by national players.

At a briefing for tenants last year, Brains was able to get stars Mark Evans and Ian Jones to attend and provide inspiration to licensees. Its profile in Welsh rugby was sufficient to get it noticed by BBC Five Live, which broadcast live from Brains managed house the Fox and Hounds, in Cardiff, during one of Wales' World Cup fixtures. Injured Welsh international Ryan Jones attended, was interviewed for the radio, and posed pulling pints behind the bar.

This year, Brains has produced its most comprehensive Six Nations point-of-sale (PoS) kits yet - 1,880 of which are available to licensees.

Wells & Young's

Wells & Young's, branding Wells Bombardier as the 'Drink of England', is one of the brewers seeking to cash in on rugby's profile by aligning itself with the England team. With this aim, it is encouraging licensees to use its Six Nations PoS kits. Nearly 1,300 of these will be distributed.

The kit gives drinkers the chance to win a limited-edition full-size rugby ball with every purchase of a pint of Wells Bombardier. "They will help to drive sales and repeat purchases in pubs, as well as getting supporters behind the boys," says Wells & Young's spokeswoman Joanna Dring.

Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises

Gareth Douglas, marketing manager for S&NPE, has the following advice for pubs on making a success of the tournament:

  • Choose the best audio-visual equipment you can afford. You really do get what you pay for in this area of the market. Cheap, poor-quality equipment will prove a false economy
  • Offer draught beer in pitchers and bottled beers in ice buckets - this avoids too many queues at the bar and missing the vital try!
  • Theme your product range around the match. Use it as an opportunity to introduce your regulars to new foreign beers
  • Run a match-themed competition offering prizes, for example, for guessing the last player to score
  • Avoid losing your customers after the full-time whistle by hosting a sports quiz or sports-themed karaoke
  • Consider running a food and drink promotion such as a burger and a pint deal
  • Site your screen to offer your audience maximum visibility, avoiding direct sunlight and away from the bar so that non-sports fans can continue to order easily
  • Advertise matches and relevant start times internally and externally.

Greene King

The Suffolk brewer and pubco sees the Six Nations as an opportunity to pull consumers away from the off-trade, appealing through atmosphere and quality draught beer - which can, after all, only be found in pubs.

Sue Thomas-Taylor, commercial director for Greene King Pub Partners, says: "Promote your match activities - there's always a better atmosphere in a pub than on a lounge sofa! Text your regulars to remind them, display match fixtures inside and out, make sure you keep everyone posted."

She recommends several unusual ways of attracting people to your pub. "Create a match loyalty club," Sue says. "For every match watched at the pub, they get a loyalty stamp and a free pint on the final match day."

Sue also suggests raffling off the best seats for the match and donating the proceeds to charity. But her most unusual suggestion is this one: "Don't forget the ladies - hold a competition, instead of man of the match or first score, to find the best bum on the pitch. The photo of the bum with the most votes gets displayed until next match."

Punch Taverns

The pub giant is helping its leased estate prepare for the Six Nations with a special edition of Connect, its magazine for tenants. The February edition will contain special offers on drinks as well as details of more than 2,500 promotional kits from which lessees can order. These include giant inflatable rugby balls and rugby anthem CDs.

Connect also contains a section called "Top Tips for Rugby Profits". And if this isn't enough, Punch's quarterly magazine Marketing Matters will feature a rugby guide with further advice.

In the managed estate, meanwhile, Spirit Group has teamed up with rugby beer brands Guinness and Bombardier to provide managers with branded external banners and giveaways.

Diageo

The drinks giant has been forging a strong relationship between Guinness and rugby through sponsorship of a number of tournaments and teams. In January, Guinness will launch a new marketing campaign to further this.

It will include TV and press advertising, and 7,000 outlets will receive PoS kits.

Lee Bailey, Guinness sponsorship manager, Diageo GB, says: "An extra million people watched last year's rugby World Cup final in comparison with 2003. More and more people are getting into the sport.

"The forthcoming Six Nations, with 15 international matches all televised at weekends on BBC, presents outlets with a great opportunity to capitalise on this growing popularity. With no football World Cup this summer and no UK representation in Euro 2008, our advice to licensees is to get the rugby on their screens and utilise the point-of-sale kits to create a real occasion that will pull customers through the door."

Rugby facts

In England, rugby is now the second-most popular spectator sport, after football, according to a survey by Sport England.

Nearly 40 million (42 per cent) more viewers in the competing nations watched the 2007 Six Nations than watched the tournament in 2003, staged shortly before England won the World Cup in the same year.

Punch says that pubs in its estate that promoted the 2007 World Cup outperformed those that didn't by 12 per cent.

The British Beer & Pub Association estimated an extra 17 to 20 million pints of beer were sold on the weekend of England's Rugby World Cup Final clash with South Africa.

England's domestic club league, the Guinness Premiership, has enjoyed nine successive years of growth. Ground attendances for matches during the 2006/07 season averaged more than 11,000 for the first time.

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