DHL, official logistics supplier to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, rolled out an epic campaign of activations through 2018 and 2019, spanning the trophy tour, grassroots global amateur games, fundraising, gaming, match ball delivery, in-stadium and social initiatives, ticket promotions, plus hospitality and employee engagement programmes.
Agency: Bright Partnerships
Other organisations: Adrivo, Brand Brewery
DHL’s overall ambition around the RWC was to engage rugby fans globally through emotional moments both on and off the pitch, in line with the global brand platform – ‘Moments that Deliver’ – that stretches across all its sponsorships.
By helping the tournament run smoothly as official logistics partner, DHL could also showcase its logistical expertise to the world.
The four specific objectives for the campaign were:
Drive fan engagement and reach beyond previous RWCs
Continue to humanise the DHL brand and celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary
Celebrate Japan and its debut as the RWC hosts
Grow the game amongst supporters and players, from the professional elite to amateur grassroots
While ‘Epic Moments’ was a global campaign with a single consistent message across 50 markets, it centred on Japan, the host of RWC 2019 and a key DHL market.
Thus, planning of the activation was also based on understanding Japanese culture and the country’s attitudes towards rugby: particularly the idea that the Japanese rugby team and its fans embody rugby’s values of fairness, passion and dedication.
The word ‘Epic’ (from the campaign title) has no direct Japanese translation, so the DHL team transliterated the word into Japanese as ‘Epiku’ (エピック).
This created a memorable creative mark in Japanese characters that could run across all DHL’s activations and content pieces, driving brand recognition and recall with both Japanese and global rugby fans.
The multi-phase campaign began ahead of the tournament with DHL’s support of the RWC Trophy Tour, taking the Webb Ellis Cup travel to 19 nations.
And it continued with the #RugbyDelivered strand, which invited fans and grassroots clubs to host their own rugby matches for which they were supplied with DHL-branded rugby kits.
From the 2,200 players who participated across 42 countries, two women’s sides – one from Japan and one from South Africa – were selected as the overall winners and awarded an epic experience at the RWC, which included tickets and coaching sessions from DHL ambassadors Shotaro Onishi [an ex-Japan international] and Sir John Kirwan [the All Black legends and World Cup winner].
A third pre-tournament strand was the ‘Race to RWC’: a 21,000km journey by two cyclists, starting Twickenham Stadium in London and passing through 27 countries to deliver the whistle to opening match referee Nigel Owens at Tokyo Stadium.
A fourth engaged consumers with a competition: asking fans to share their own best rugby inspired #EpicDelivery via social to be in with a chance to win match tickets.
Via a series of local marketing campaigns, DHL gave 48 children from 24 countries the opportunity to travel to Japan and deliver the official match ball onto the field of play prior to the kick-off of each RWC match.
In and around the stadium, the brand launched several activations:
Almost 500,000 DHL-branded clapper banners were distributed to local fans to celebrate in-stadium.
An at-stadium rugby skills challenge – #EpicDelivery – designed like a Japanese gameshow drew more than 3,000 fans during the tournament.
And another at-stadium initiative – ‘DHL Box StackerPRO’ – involved an anime-style virtual reality environment in which fans where challenged to stack items in a DHL warehouse.
During the tournament, DHL shared ‘Epic Moments’ on its channels and asked fans to vote for their favourite.
In terms of its official supplier role, DHL delivered more than 67,000kg of freight and 400,000 tickets around the world, plus it supplied a 120-strong fleet of branded logistics vehicles, which carried out more than 600 in-tournament freight movements.
Its logistics role was promoted through four anime shorts featuring Kyoko and her #EpicSquad of DHL colleagues, highlighting various aspects of DHL’s role at the tournament including ticket delivery, team logistics and match ball delivery.
The activation’s global media reach was 780 million, with more than 30 million social impressions, 6.1 million video views and a further 2.5 million digital engagements.
In Japan, 4,700 fans actively participated in the in-stadium elements and the campaigns delivered more than 12,000 new DHL Japan Facebook followers.
About 450 media articles across Japanese TV and press generated €4.5m in media value.
Brand and agency say the campaign was DHL’s most successful RWC activation to date and surpassed all target KPIs. DHL reported “significant increases in business revenue” and claimed “unprecedented” levels of employee engagement.