As the Six Nations comes to a close, this blog compares the Guinness’ activation to Coca Cola’s Premier League campaign as they are both new, similarly positioned, sponsorship campaigns. The two brands both have significant heritage within their respective territories, yet they are both using fan’s passion as a vehicle to drive awareness of their new agreements
I normally like Coke’s football sponsorship activations, they are fresh, inclusive and integrated. Often placing fans at the heart of their communications, they’re consistent. Whilst they tend not to challenge category norms or expectations, as football has been at the heart of their strategy for so long it is relevant and engaging.
However, we believe that this latest campaign falls short. Whilst the production values are good, the use of talent is unnecessarily forced and the fan stereotypes are lazy (e.g. Chelsea pensioners, Liverpool fans on a Mersey ferry) however this isn’t our primary issue with it. Virtually any other consumer facing brand could be dropped in its place without disrupting the proposition. It doesn’t differentiate from other brands or sponsors and follows a well-trodden path of ‘we support all fans’. This could just as easily have been an advert for any other Premier League sponsor; you wouldn’t have been surprised had the Cadbury or Barclays logo appeared at the end. So, whilst it isn’t wrong, per se, given the equity that Coke has within football, they had so much scope to make a big statement, break the territory norms, challenge the category and generate genuine value for fans but chose not to.
Guinness have also kept fans at the centre of their creative however the treatment is far more engaging. The story of how two brothers are forced to spend their mother’s inheritance in following their team around Europe during the 6 Nations is heart-warming and epitomises all that is good about 6 Nations rugby fans; passion, fun and camaraderie. Whilst the story is interesting and different, tonally it is unmistakeably Guinness, even before the reveal you know what the brand will be. It works because Guinness demonstrates a deep-rooted understanding of the sport and, as a result, they are embraced by fans who share the same values and passions. So, whilst we don’t necessarily agree that Guinness needed to spend the money on becoming the 6 Nations title sponsor (as outlined in our previous blog), their activations are, as always, spot on.
The fundamental difference between the two is that Guinness keeps the product, relevantly, at the heart of the campaign, reinforcing the importance of the brand during the rugby occasion. On the other extreme, Coke’s ad feels forced, undifferentiated and the product feels shoehorned.
In our view, Guinness wins hands down.