Cannes Lions

#NeverSettle

PHD, London / GUINESS UDV / 2022

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Overview

Background

In Ireland, sports have always played an important cultural and societal role. Recently progress has been made to create a more inclusive playing field, with participation between men and women reaching almost equal levels.

‘Diageo Society 2030 Spirit of Progress’ is a 10-year action plan to create a more inclusive and sustainable world. Voted Sponsor of the Decade in Ireland, Guinness is heavily associated with sports in Ireland, particularly rugby.

For over 70 years, they have supported the game and its players, both male and female. But they recognised that inequality still exists, especially when it comes to the media coverage given to women’s sports.

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 Women’s Six Nations Championship would be held as a stand-alone event for the first time. Guinness decided to seize this moment to become a catalyst for change, breaking the vicious cycle of under-representation once and for all.

Strategy

Driven by the mantra “build it and they will come”, Guinness would help the nation HEAR and SEE women’s rugby like never before.

We set ourselves an ambitious target of moving the dial from 6% to 20% coverage during April.

We would challenge Ireland’s leading media publications to act as catalysts for change.

To stand out, we needed innovative executions across media channels:

• PRINT: Partnering with The Irish Independent, Ireland’s most-read newspaper, we would launch the industry’s first-ever ‘invisible’ print ad, reflecting just how little coverage women’s rugby had.

• ONLINE: Partnering with The42.ie, one of Ireland’s biggest sports websites, we would work with Ireland’s leading rugby correspondent to create the platform’s first women’s rugby vertical.

• AUDIO: Partnering with OTB (Off the Ball), the leading voice in Irish Sport, we would put women’s rugby front and centre of national and regional news broadcasts for the first time.

Execution

We launched the campaign with disruptive executions in PRINT, ONLINE, and AUDIO.

• PRINT: On the opening weekend of the championship, we seeded our ‘invisible’ ad in The Irish Independent, reflecting how little coverage women’s rugby had. When held up to the light, the full copy was revealed alongside Guinness’s commitment to #NEVERSETTLE.

• ONLINE: On The42.ie, we created the site’s first women’s rugby vertical and matchday magazine. We also commissioned ‘Trailblazers’, an editorial series aiming to “shape rugby’s future by rewriting history”. With a unique graphic identity, we made women’s stories visible.

• AUDIO: With OTB, we normalised women’s rugby coverage, ensuring all sports bulletins across Media Central’s radio network included updates from the W6Ns daily (brought to you by Guinness) for the first time. We also created The Women’s Six Nation’s weekly show; hosted by one of Ireland’s biggest female sportswriters and Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll.

Outcome

We built it and they came.

Guinness reached over 80% of the population with #Neversettle. We surpassed our ambitious target of 20% coverage, moving the dial from 6% to 22% coverage for the women’s game.

For the brand, 95% of all organic coverage mentioned Guinness, with #Neversettle responsible for making Guinness the most loved sports sponsor in Ireland for 2021.

Our media partners smashed their targets, generating over 70% more media value versus Guinness’ investment, further proving that media had previously undervalued women's sport.

But, most importantly, we ignited conversation and change amongst media.

In research commissioned by Guinness post #Neversettle, 83% of sports media felt that Guinness’ #Neversettle campaign would encourage more people to follow the sport.

And a massive 91% of them agreed it would encourage sponsors/brands to support the women’s game, a claim already proven in 2022 with a record number of new sponsors.

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