Rugby Reminiscing: The Sport Of Capturing and Keeping Attention

If chit chat with a bar stool neighbor swayed to rugby I’d confidently remark, “I’m routing for anyone who beats New Zealand. I’ve always stood beside the underdog.” From there, I’d cross my fingers that the conversation halted – a polite exchange amongst strangers. Savoring the silence after the stranger’s chuckle, hoping it ensures I did not hop beside an enthusiast eager to spew player names and statistics.

My rugby knowledge is empty of rules and guidelines, absent of any clues as to how the game even begins. Yet, I can offer enough to appear well-informed, “All I know is I only leave a game on if I hear Bill MacLearn’s voice.”

My minute knowledge can be accredited to Guinness, who released an extension of their “Made of More” campaign, focused on rugby’s soul – inspirational characters and integrity. The campaign includes four spots (one for each of the teams Guinness sponsors) and unfolds unforgettable tales of defying odds.

Although these ads will be aired in the UK and Ireland, regions highly apart of the rugby culture, the campaign’s successful impact is due to:

  • An artfully crafted context. The spots supply those with knowledge gaps the size of black holes enough context to feel involved, to embody a fan.
  • Unexpectedness. The campaign takes the audience’s assumptions and defies them. Holding our attention through narrative, the audience pieces together a new, meaningful definition.

“Mind Over Matter” begins articulating the features of novel rugby players. Their strength, size, and power. Our minds dig up the schemas we tie to these terms, envisioning a man who cannot be moved – broad, tall, muscular. The spot cuts to a man stooping below his teammates, the player who’s clearly the protagonist of the spot. At this point there is a divergence from the expected and the audience is compelled to know why Shane Williams, at 5’7’’, told he would never, could never, is a legend.

The spot moves to Williams in action, bringing his home team glory. The audience redefines strength, size and power in terms of heart, ambition, and character. Williams, the opposite of broad and tall, now meets the definition of a novel rugby player, through looking at the original terms with a fresh lens. The narrative captures the audience, passing over a bit of rugby bar trivia, and uniting Guinness “Made of More” with a tangible reality.

“Merci”, “David and Goliath”, and “Irrepressible Spirit” take on a similar recipe sharing unexpected triumphs that hinge on interior values versus physical attributes. Each spot, some woven with historical footage, provides viewers with experiential context. Viewers feel the pride and adoration that lives within the fans of each nation. Emotions are transferred into the audience using powerful, image inducing language such as, “and every Irish man grew twelve feet taller” and “when he goes into a restaurant people start standing up and clapping.”

“Made of More” dismisses common sense; Tuberculosis does NOT eliminate one’s ability to contribute to rugby. Guinness’s campaign deeply connects with the audience, embedding within the minds of rugby’s most die-hard followers and the clueless. In exchange for 1 minute of our attention Guinness supplies an unforgettable story. Viewers are intrigued enough to carry along the tale, tossing snippets out in passing conversation as they remember the mere minutes when they were apart of rugby’s spirit.

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