'We deal in real' was first used by the automotive brand during the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and Land Rover has decided the tagline is equally relevant for the British & Irish Lions – a partnership that has been running for 16 years (five tours).
The ultimate aim of the campaign is to find two "heroes of grassroots rugby" who, along with their partners, deserve a trip to New Zealand for the British & Irish Lions tour in June/July by embodying rugby's values of 'resilience, integrity and passion'.
Land Rover's rugby ambassadors, including former Lions Brian O’Driscoll, Martin Johnson, Gavin Hastings and Sir Gareth Edwards, surprised Whitton Lions RFC this week (15 February) on the campaign's first stop in a tour of the UK & Ireland. More live events will take place at grassroots rugby clubs and Land Rover dealerships across the UK and Ireland in the lead-up to the tour.
Alongside the live elements, the competition to win a place on the tour will run through social media, where fans are asked to submit a written/photo/video message of support to the Lions and a reason why they deserve to go on the tour:
Mark Cameron, brand experience director for Land Rover, told PRWeek: "The campaign we're launching today is following on from what we did for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It was hugely successful and struck a chord, so we didn't want to ditch the idea.
"Because Land Rover has had a deep presence in rugby for some time, we really wanted to use it as an opportunity to talk to the grassroots of the game – fans of all ages, up and down the country. The mechanic this time, though, is that we want to find those heroes of grassroots rugby who best epitomise what it is to be a Lion – and take them as our guests to New Zealand."
Cameron also highlighted the role Land Rover's ambassadors would play within the campaign, by generating excitement and unique content for fans.
"Our rugby ambassadors are, themselves, Lions legends, so we can use them to create that initial spark of interest, to help inspire people to write a small piece and create some of their own video content," he said.
"Then we'll have some X Factor-style judging sessions to find out a bit more about what their background and story is, and what they do in rugby. Hopefully the idea will capture people's imagination."
Cameron was keen to point out the difference between ambassadors and influencers.
He said: "The great thing about rugby players as ambassadors is that the sport is their love - it's not like paying an influencer and saying 'here's the contract, this is what you need to do' – they want to do it anyway.
"Obviously we want to have sight of what they're doing to make sure there's no duplication or conflict, but we're not going to write stuff for them, it's far more effective in their own words. We're talking to the rugby fan and we don't want to be overly commercial; and because we've been in rugby for so long I think we have a bit of permission to do that."
Wider elements of the campaign will include live events and screenings of the Lions matches, despite the tour taking place on the other side of the world: "During the tour itself, our retailers will be getting behind the campaign and hosting screenings, despite the time difference being a little bit challenging.
"There's a real buzz about the Lions right now and we feel we can spread that quickly through social media and quickly get fans engaged. We're only half way through the Six Nations and everybody's already talking about Lions picks."
As a British & Irish Lions sponsor, Land Rover's access to the players themselves in the lead-up to, and during the tour, would help the brand create unique content for the fans.
"We'll be doing a lot of PR activity with the Lions players themselves in the lead-up to and during the tour, for example some drive expedition-type stuff," said Cameron.
"We'll be capturing content through their eyes, almost having them as the authors of the content, at key points during the tour. That's what we can give back to the rugby fan – some unique insight into the tour that TV and media channels won't necessarily be picking up. We've got to be there with the right people at the right time to capture those behind-the-scenes moments and quickly create content and get it out to the fans."
The 'we deal in real' has been rolled out by Land Rover's in-house PR resource, with the help of agencies Chime Sports Media and Fast Track.