CAMPAIGNS: EVENT MANAGEMENT; Union sheds its ruggered image

Client: Harlequin Football Club PR Team: New Media Group Campaign: Launch of the first Rugby Union Ladies Day in the UK Timing: September 1995 to April 1996 Budget: pounds 6,000 plus prize promotion budget of pounds 1,000

Client: Harlequin Football Club

PR Team: New Media Group

Campaign: Launch of the first Rugby Union Ladies Day in the UK

Timing: September 1995 to April 1996

Budget: pounds 6,000 plus prize

promotion budget of pounds 1,000



Rugby Union has had a momentous season with moves towards

professionalism, full-time players, highly paid directors of coaching

and increasing emphasis on marketing and sponsorship.



Harlequins, based in Twickenham, could justifiably claim to be London’s

top club, packed with internationals including Will Carling and Jason

Leonard. It is regarded as innovative and progressive and recently

became the first premier union club to appoint a woman - Pat Currie - to

its committee.



Objective



Through the introduction of the first ever Ladies Day, Harlequins sought

to promote the club in a refreshing an authoritative way to the media,

potential new supporters and opinion formers, while opening up obvious

sales and marketing opportunities.



Tactics



Ladies Day was scheduled around Harlequins’ last home game of the season

on Saturday 13 April. As well as the main event, Harlequins against

Gloucester, a women’s match was to take place in the morning, followed

by a champagne lunch and two fashion shows, one featuring models from

top agency Storm, and the other Quins players. The day culminated in a

black tie dinner.



New Media Group sent invitations to celebrity guests such as Dani Behr,

Jilly Johnson and Heather Mills and an announcement information pack to

target the media, including fashion spots and diary journalists, in TV,

radio, national and regional press and consumer magazines.



Contact was maintained with the media via press releases and personal

contact, and in early spring key sports and fashion journalists were

invited to attend Ladies Day as VIP guests.



‘VIP Day Out at Ladies Day’ competitions were organised in the regional

radio and press, including Ms. London, the Middlesex Chronicle and the

Surrey Comet.



Results



Pre-event coverage included a preview on Carlton’s London Tonight; an

interview with Jason Leonard on Chris Evans’ Morning Show on Radio 1;

interviews with Pat Currie on Radio 5 Live’s Women on Top and the

breakfast show on London News Talk radio, a give-away promotion on

Capital FM as part of its Easter Help a London Child appeal, and a

preview on BBC Radio Gloucester’s sports show.



The day was well attended by both the media and supporters with

journalists from several nationals and the fashion press.



Television coverage on the day included Sky News and Channel One, while

Rugby Special and Live! TV ran reports afterwards. There was radio

coverage on the day on BBC, GLR and BBC Radio Gloucester.



National press coverage included generally positive pieces by sports

feature writers Sarah Edworthy of the Daily Telegraph and Emma Lindsey

of the Observer, and a full page colour fashion spread in the Sunday

Telegraph.



Verdict



A novel and very low cost concept, which attracted some support

particularly among female sports writers such as Edworthy, who says:

‘Rugby grounds are notoriously unwelcoming for women.’



But even Edworthy was cynical about the fact the day was only staged

after the club had gone professional. While the event may have helped

consolidate Harlequins’ image as an innovator in its first year, if it

survives it is unlikely to become little more than another novelty in

the corporate hospitality calendar.



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