Historically when brands and rugby teams collide in advertising, the stories that are told are ones of blood, sweat and tears. The triumph of men and teams winning on the pitch in epic, often superhuman style.
It’s a history which lies behind Guinness and AMV BBDO’s latest campaign that tells the story of Japan’s first female rugby squad Liberty Fields. The campaign delivers a warmth breadth and inclusivity to a genre of advertising that has often been one dimensional.
Alongside the spot Guinness has created an extended five-minute documentary which brings the Liberty Field team together to share their story. As the captain, Noriko Kishida, explains, “At the time the women’s team wasn’t recognised as official so we founded our own organisations.” For this was a generation of players which faced some of their biggest battles off the pitch.
Ultimately the Liberty Fields team was knocked out in the first round of the Rugby World Cup, but their story is still a tale of success as pioneers for the women’s game. As Keiko Kawaguchi, a hooker in the ground-breaking team adds, “It was pure joy. There was a freedom to do anything you wanted.”
Commenting on the campaign English international rugby player Danielle Waterman, said, “While 2019 has been an incredible year for women’s sport, there are still plenty of barriers to overcome both within sport and more widely. Much of the ‘Liberty Fields’ story still rings true with me today. However, it is incredible to have this story shared because talking about and celebrating women as pioneers can really make a difference. How we approach and embed inclusivity and diversity, is key to future success.”
Guinness has a long heritage in rugby, a commitment it increased in 2018 when it became the title sponsor of the Six Nations. It’s a deal which also included a six-year partnership with the Women’s Six Nations. The brand celebrated the newly signed sponsorship with the ‘Sisters’ ad, the real-life story of Harriet and Bridget Millar-Mills, who respectively played for the England and Scotland national teams in 2013.
In the rugby community, the importance of “leaving the Jersey in a better place” is a concept which reflects a commitment to making the game better as well as highlighting that success is about far more than any one individual, something that this campaign from Guinness truly captures.