Hill+Knowlton Strategies awarded England Rugby World Cup 2015 brief

The organisers of the first Rugby World Cup to take place in England for a generation have selected WPP's Hill+Knowlton Strategies to promote the tournament globally.

England 2015: Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio helps mark two years till the tournament
England 2015: Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio helps mark two years till the tournament

Ticket sales are at the heart of the six-figure international brief from England Rugby 2015, which will still be open to working with alternative agencies for other aspects of the campaign and continues to work with Four Communications on a project basis.

Joanna Manning-Cooper, comms and marketing director for England Rugby 2015, said that H+K Strategies' sporting experience and global network were key with 20 countries set to compete in the tournament.

"We have around 2.5 million tickets for 48 games to sell, and as an organising committee than is our one revenue stream to fund the tournament so that will be vital," she said.

Referencing this summer's victorious British and Irish Lions tour, she added: "This country loves rugby – that was evident with the Lions – and that enthusiasm will be what we’re trying to capture and bottle for the ticketing campaign."

Timing is understood to be a key part of the strategy, with next year’s sporting calendar including the football World Cup in Brazil and the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Major activity will begin with the launch of a volunteer campaign in February and build up to a major marcoms drive in May, marking 500 days till the tournament.

Tickets will begin to be sold next autumn, with work continuing to ramp up until the tournament begins in September 2015.

"From 2015, we want this country to feel like a rugby nation," Manning-Cooper added.

Andy Sutherden, global head of sports marketing & sponsorship at H+K Strategies, said: "London 2012 created enormous national pride in our ability to host world class events, so England is very proud to be hosting another one three years later. The rugby World Cup promises to be a celebration of rugby and we have an important role to play in helping ensure the tournament captures the imagination of rugby union fans all over the globe. "

One sports PR agency expert said that efforts were also likely to focus on establishing a sporting legacy from the event.  

"Rugby is a social sport, but there was a feeling that not enough was done to build on England’s World Cup win in 2003, so that will be important," they said.

The quadrennial tournament was last held in England in 1991, with nations first competing for the Webb Ellis Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 1987.

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