World Rugby – Webb Ellis Cup India Tour

A billion Indians live and breathe in the world of night watchmen and chinamen. They can tell apart a silly point from a long leg when they see them on the Cricket field. Innovations in football, hockey and less established sports, such as poker, are just some of the changes currently taking place in India. Offering viewers and players a chance to watch and participate in something other than cricket is a big challenge.

In August 2018, World Rugby decided to introduce the Indian audience to a new world of scrums, rucks and mauls, goose steps and grubber kicks. Yes, India was one of the 18 countries where the Webb Ellis Cup (The Rugby World Cup)—toured as a precursor to the 2019 tournament in Japan. While this was a big opportunity for World Rugby, creating excitement and buzz around not so popular sport was a challenge as well. Moreover, the timeline was quite tight to plan as we got the final sign off a week before the trophy tour schedule.

Thus, our strategy was revolved around leveraging advocates to drive popularity for The Rugby World Cup 2019.

In order to bring alive our outreach, Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) India worked closely with World Rugby and Rugby India and zeroed in on few celebrities, who could help us meet our objective in just a week’s time, using the organic route.  Rahul Bose, a Bollywood star and a former captain of the Indian Rugby team was brought in to build engagement around Webb Ellis Cup to India, in association with Rugby India. The proposed tweet by us with Rahul Bose set the stage and created a social moment for the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour. The tweet received positive engagements and retweets / likes by Bollywood celebrities Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham and ace photographer Atul Kasbekar.

Once we have successfully triggered the conversations around The Rugby World Cup 2019. The tour started with a grand media conference in New Delhi where Rahul Bose and the Indian Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore (an Olympic shooting silver medalist himself) unveiled the Webb Eliss Cup. At Mumbai Siddharth Malhotra, well known Bollywood actor, along with Rahul Bose joined to show his support for the sport and unveiled the trophy with Brett Gosper, the CEO of World Rugby.

Tour ended with a record-breaking event at a large stadium attended by nearly 15,000 young rugby fans in Bhubaneshwar.  Reached out through five celebrity influencers (organically) with over 34.22 million social reach and made 47 million impressions. It is certainly a great example of creating excitement and buzz around not so popular sport through an organic route.