Since 1872, Scottish rugby team Edinburgh Rugby has enjoyed a passionate crowd and rousing atmosphere. But, beginning in 2018, the team required a more holistic match day and supporter experience. Melina Thalassinou examines how the club’s use of video engages a wider demographic
No sweat dripping, no clothes sticking to straining bodies, just pictures flashing and smiles shining. The Edinburgh Rugby team has gathered under the spotlight once again, but this time for a different cause. It is a new dawn for the team, and to achieve goals it hasn’t before, it needs to do things it hasn’t done before.
Edinburgh-based production specialist 20/20 Productions teamed up with the Edinburgh Rugby team to enrich the development and growth of the team’s digital channels and match day experience. The partnership aims to expand the Edinburgh Rugby team’s audience and attract more sponsors, for example through a five-minute promotional film, designed and produced by 20/20 Productions. The film invites membership to the Edinburgh Rugby Business Club, which provides members with opportunities to network and build relationships with senior business people in the city at Edinburgh home games. The agency was also tasked with filming Edinburgh Rugby’s first home game of the season against regional Welsh team, Dragons Rugby.
The relationship between Edinburgh Rugby and 20/20 Productions emerged from 20/20 Productions managing director, Alastair Scott’s, personal interest in the sport. As an ex-rugby player, Scott became friendly with Edinburgh Rugby’s marketing and PR team and the team’s business club. The connection was instant, he says, and the realisation that both parties could benefit from one another soon led to a collaboration, “There’s a very healthy business club which is part of the Edinburgh Rugby social scene and we met and realised that we had things to offer one another and it really went from there,” says Scott.
With the introduction of a new coaching team including Richard Cockerill, a three-time winner of the English Premiership, it was important for Edinburgh Rugby to evolve and improve its communications strategy. Edinburgh Rugby managing director, Jonny Petrie, says, “In such an exciting time for the club, it has never been more important to strengthen the relationships we have with our supporters and the Edinburgh business community. With the help of 20/20 Productions that’s exactly what we aim to do.”
While the team’s in-house content satisfies supporter curiosity about the sport itself, 20/20 Productions helps with the enhancement of the match day experience and the expansion of the club’s public campaigns. For 20/20 Productions to understand the team’s desires and goals, consequently reaching its targeted audience, the agency worked in close partnership with the Edinburgh Rugby’s marketing team. This opportunity allowed 20/20 Productions to gain insight into the team, making it easier to develop a marketing plan that fulfilled all of Edinburgh Rugby’s needs. “20/20 Productions’ creative and technical expertise helps us take our matchday and campaign-led content to the next level, while our in-house resource covers the day-to-day workings of the team,” Stuart Martin, Edinburgh Rugby marketing and communications manager, says.
Personal instinct also was key in making the content current and relevant, as Scott, being a fan, had a better understanding of what the supporters really want from a video experience. “What the audience wants, is very much what I want,” he says, “which is a look behind the scenes and a privileged access to a lot of the things that don’t get to be seen by supporters. The club itself has a very good and clear idea of the demographics of those people, so we’re very much targeting different groups with each production we’ve worked with.”
While the campaign aims to engage the supporters and increase the team’s funds, the behind-the-scenes videos are what help the Edinburgh Rugby team connect with its fans. Content that reveals more personal information about the players, such as the greatest moment of their career or their favourite game, private stories that sponsors usually don’t know about, shed a different light on high-profile players, making them relatable and approachable.
Behind-the-scenes content also appeals to the public because of the atmosphere it conveys. The five-minute promotional video is a good indicator of the relationship between the players, who are having fun when shooting the film for the campaign. But talking about the challenges of the task at hand, Scott says, “Young men who play rugby like to mess around, and trying to wrangle 30 players into order to stand in front of a camera is not the easiest. They say, ‘never work with children or animals,’ but I might add ‘crazy rugby players’ to that as well.”
With regard to the supporters’ demographics, choosing a simple yet informative video such as for the Edinburgh Rugby Business Club, was a conscious one. The message conveyed needed to be as clear as possible; it’s addressed to a more mature audience, in comparison to a generally younger audience that attends the matches. And while many organisations choose YouTube as the main channel for promotional content, Scott says that although the team’s videos can be found on the platform, 20/20 Productions avoided making YouTube its main content outlet. According to Scott, “The message had to be very straight-forward about the benefits and what was on offer. Whereas other projects we’re involved in are much more social media-oriented, much quirkier and fun, those are for a younger audience.”
Alternatively, social media platforms such as Twitter, where Edinburgh Rugby has an impressive following of 46,5000, are the main outlet for the Edinburgh Rugby team to make announcements about new players or initiatives that are going on in the club. It gets out to a larger, wider and younger demographic, boosting the team’s reputation and encouraging match attendance.
Edinburgh Rugby also produces some in-house content, such as social media moving image pieces. But according to Scott, its scope is limited and cannot confidently take on bigger projects such as the creation of a moving image background with graphic flames which reveals the players before every game. This is also the achievement Scott is most proud of. It inspires dynamism and confidence to the crowd, he says, while getting patrons excited for the game.
In the future, Scott reveals, both organisations have plans to develop the collaboration. In the short term, there are four films due to come out before the end of the successful season. In the long-term, because of the team’s success, the fans have a growing appetite for more material, which 20/20 Production is responsible for curbing within the next few years.