Top Rugby PR Stunts

October 31, 2014
Performance Comms

Just four months into my career in sports PR I’ve already seen the sorts of creative and exciting campaigns that captivate sports fans, so with a borderline obsessive passion for rugby and the Rugby World Cup final a year away, I’ve taken a look at some of the best PR stunts from the oval ball game.

Bryan Habana vs. an A380

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British Airways invited the South African winger to try and out-sprint an A380 jumbo jet over 100m. Surprisingly, the speedster took the race victory and fans were given a chance to see one of rugby’s most elusive sprinters careering down a runway at full pelt, before the plane overtook Habana and flew off into the distance.

Paddy Power dyes Tongan hair green

Paddy Power Tongan Green HairDuring the 2007 World Cup, Paddy Power sponsored the Tongan international team and asked the players to dye their hair green for their match against England – a previously unheard of concept for such a traditional sport. The International Rugby Board stepped in and prevented the match becoming an advert for the entrepreneurial bookmakers. The campaign didn’t run as Paddy Power anticipated, but the story swept through the media for long enough to prove that a stunt doesn’t always have to go to plan to achieve widespread coverage and make a huge statement for a brand.

Not your average training session- Red Bull puts the Lions squad under pressure in Australia 2013

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Red Bull always know how to take a stunt to an extreme level and ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia in 2013, Owen Farrell, Jamie Roberts and George North were invited to a training session with a difference. North was subject to gruelling G-forces in an acrobatic helicopter, while Roberts was spun around in a fighter jet. England fly half Farrell had his place kicking scrutinised as a group of attractive air stewardesses, noisy racing cars and a helicopter hovering above him tried to distract him as he took his efforts from the tee. The result – an instantly sharable video viewed over 115,000 times and another reminder that Red Bull leads the way in upping the ante in any sport or event.

Dan Carter’s conversion over London Bridge

Dan Carter Conversion

Ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, MasterCard invited the top point scorer in international rugby, Dan Carter – a World Cup winning All Black in 2011, to attempt a conversion through the biggest ‘posts’ in England – those of Tower Bridge.  Iconic imagery and smart video footage appeared all over the sporting press with the World’s best player kicking at a globally known landmark.

It’s not always easy to spot a fake

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To dissuade rugby fans from purchasing fake 2015 Rugby World Cup tickets, organisers made a clever video featuring a Jonny Wilkinson lookalike going through his trademark routine before a kick in training. All of his mannerisms were spot on, until the doppelganger went to kick the ball, only to trip over his own feet in the process. The first time I watched it I was convinced it was the World Cup winner himself, but it highlighted the point of the campaign perfectly – it’s not easy to spot a fake. A smart idea, well executed, that will hopefully prevent thousands of fans from being disappointed when they turn up to matches next year.

Mark Cueto – Skinned Alive – Multipower Sportsfood

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And of course, here at Performance, we’ve staged some fantastic stunts with rugby ambassadors in the past including former England international Mark Cueto. The Sale wing had his muscles painted on to his body to create a striking series of images and an interesting video of the makeup process. This was shared ahead of the RBS Six Nations and secured a media value of £1.2 million in extensive print, online and broadcast coverage.

2015 will be an exciting year for rugby in the UK, but what other interesting stunts can we expect to promote the game? I’d like to see a punt from one side of the Thames to the other, or a pack of forwards practicing their mauling technique by piling on to a crowded Central line tube. As long as opportunistic brands don’t highjack the game in such a way that ruins the spirit of the sport, I’m all for stunts that raise the profile of rugby.


Tags: blog, pr, rugby, rwc, Sport, stunt,

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[…] you’re still not excited, then check out these top rugby stunts from over the years. Want to see a rugby player race against a jumbo jet? Of course you […]


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