Campaign: Wooden Spoon gets rugby fans involved - Voluntary Sector

Campaign: Wooden Spoon Mascots' Challenge Client: Wooden Spoon PR team: ENS Timescale: Ongoing from February 2005 Budget: Part of retainer

Wooden Spoon is a rugby charity working to benefit socially, physically and mentally disadvantaged children across the UK.

Since its foundation in 1983, the charity has suffered from low awareness among club rugby fans, despite winning the support of the rugby establishment and raising more than £10m. Retained agency ENS was charged with making Wooden Spoon more widely known.

Objectives

To recruit rugby club backing for Wooden Spoon. To increase awareness among rugby's wider fan base and engage supporters in fundraising.

Strategy and Plan

To target rugby fans through local PR platforms, ENS issued Premiership club mascots with the challenge of raising £5,000 each. This was backed by a pledge from the charity to match funds, creating a potential £10,000 for coaching programmes for disadvantaged children within each club's catchment area.

England World Cup winner and advocate of 'class-free rugby', Jason Leonard, agreed to be spokesperson for the campaign and attended the national launch event at Harlequins' rugby ground in February, accompanied by four London Premiership team mascots.

Additional regional launches resulted in story and picture opportunities for local media. These were boosted by tailored press releases for each club's local PR network.

Premier Rugby, the game's governing body, also made Wooden Spoon a beneficiary of the Zurich Premiership final at Twickenham between Leicester Tigers and London Wasps.

Here the charity staged a bucket collection, while mascots played a mini-match for the Wooden Spoon Mascots' Trophy, which was presented by former England international Martin Bayfield.

Measurement and Evaluation

ENS estimates that the campaign activities generated more than seven million positive opportunities to see, primarily through club websites, match programmes and local media, including the Leicester Mercury, High Wycombe Star and Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

The PR team also managed to set up features on Sky Sports and the Community Channel. All coverage was evaluated in-house.

Results

The mascots raised more than £50,000, which will, alongside Wooden Spoon contributions, finance an extended coaching programme for disadvantaged children this autumn.

Furthermore, the charity has established ongoing working partnerships with all 12 Premiership rugby clubs and their fans.

Sky rugby executive producer Martin Turner says the Mascots' Trophy was a 'great initiative' that provided TV-friendly fun: 'It's always good to see rugby breaking out of its perceived social group.'

He adds: 'Wooden Spoon and Premier Rugby have done a good job with what seems like a well-planned and thorough scheme.'

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