Embracing the Modern Fan – Vodacom Super Rugby – A Digital Case Study

750 526 Openfield

It is no secret that a strong digital presence and an effective digital marketing campaign is a must for most brands these days. The success of any digital campaign is to ensure that relevant content is available quickly, easily and well packaged.

This case study will outline the digital approach taken by Vodacom as title sponsor of the Super Rugby tournament.

Vodacom is the title sponsor for Super Rugby in South Africa. The tournament is seen as the top rugby tournament in the world and involves 6 teams from South Africa, 5 teams each from Australia and New Zealand, as well as a team each from Argentina and Japan. Super Rugby spans over 4 continents and lasts for 7 months.[/fusion_text][/one_half][fusion_text]With the revolution of the second screen ( see ‘The evolution of the couch potato” ) and the need to supply rugby fans with the content they crave, Vodacom took steps to ensure this need was met. A comprehensive digital strategy was developed to ensure Vodacom was the enabler in bringing every rugby fan closer to his/her team. As Super Rugby title sponsor, Vodacom has unprecedented access to teams, players and content surrounding Super Rugby. The trick is to share this exclusive content with rugby fans effectively.

The overarching objective is for Vodacom to have a voice in the rugby space. Being the title sponsor of the world’s toughest rugby tournament means very little unless that sponsorship is leveraged effectively. In order to increase Vodacom’s digital footprint in rugby, four main digital platforms were identified: web, mobile, social media and sports gaming.

With rugby fans screaming out for all sorts of rugby related content, Vodacom created a content hub in the form of vodacomrugby.co.za. Any news or information about the Super Rugby tournament and stats and factsabout all the Super Rugby teams and players can be found here. In addition, in order to position Vodacom as the leader in everything Super Rugby and number one content supplier, a number of highly acclaimed rugby journalists such as Dan Retief, BrendenNel, Gavin Rich etc. were contracted to write exclusively for vodacomrugby.co.za. Other features found on the website include: competitions, results, fixtures, logs, stats, video highlights etc.

The advent of the second screen has presented a huge opportunity for brands to give fans content that they can’t get from a television broadcast. Nearly 80% of rugby fans access their mobile devices while watching televised games. In order to embrace these rugby fans, Vodacom developed their All Out Rugby App, which is available on Android as well as IOS devices. There are a number of features that set this App apart from any other rugby Apps out there. Vodacom has teamed up with renowned stats company Opta. The App features 27 different stat categories as well as team and individual player stats. Amazingly, these stats are updated every 2 seconds on the App, so if a user wants to see how many meters a player has run in a game, he can literally follow his progress live while he is playing. Another groundbreaking feature offered by the App is RefLinks. RefLinks provides a direct link to the referee on the field and everything he says throughout the game can be heard exclusively on the App. The App also offers a 90 sec video highlights package directly after the game is played. This means the fan no longer has to wait for the game to be broadcast again or wait for the broadcaster’s highlights package.

Another digital area to be utilised was social media. Vodacom has a well- established brand presence on Facebook and Twitter, but due to the diversity of Vodacom’s community, it was decided to create a handle on Twitter dedicated solely to rugby. And so @VodacomRugga was born. Currently having attracted over 13,000 followers, Vodacom is able to interact directly with rugby fans and supply them with the exclusive rugby content they crave while ensuring the Vodacom name is top of mind.

Sports gaming site Superbru, was the next digital platform identified where Vodacom could access rugby fans. The results prediction website attracted just under 200,000 players to the Super Rugby tournament in 2015. In order to tap into these users, Vodacom signed a deal whereby every player who signs up for the tournament is automatically included into the Vodacom Rugby Pool. This enables Vodacom to offer prizes as well as communicate with all users in the form of weekly newsletters as well as a ‘banter board’ on the webpage itself.

Part of the campaign effectiveness is the integration of all four digital areas. The website, App and Superbru all have the @VodacomRugga Twitter feed integrated into their interfaces. In turn @VodacomRugga posts articles which link to the website, showcases features of the App and drives followers to the Vodacom Superbru page.

This four pronged approach to creating a digital presence has enabled Vodacom to communicate to a large online audience, all with one common interest… rugby.