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
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.
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
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
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.