Wear the Rose

Forward Media Global
Forward Media Global
6 min readApr 19, 2017


This year O2 celebrate 20 years of sponsoring the England rugby team.

Wear the Rose was the campaign which activated this sponsorship in a home turf RWC year and initiated a new positioning for O2 rugby for years to come.

Wear the Rose is derived from the insight that public support can make the team perform better on the pitch and consequently the campaign’s ambition was to galvanise support from the English nation for the England rugby team.

As a non-official RWC sponsor, there were many rules and regulations to be adhered to which posed a huge creative challenge for the RWC period — the creative strategy was to utilise O2’s team pre-tournament access and animate the characters for the campaign.

Comms strategy

The campaign was built around three strategic pillars — inspire, enable and demonstrate support for the England rugby team. We activated the strategy through carefully selected and bespoke media placements showcasing dynamic and reactive creative to reflect the progression of the tournament and the mood of the nation throughout.


The campaign started with owned media at the heart. The O2 retail estate was transformed with an England-wide shop front logo change to incorporate the rose, bespoke store screens, window visuals and giveaways in the form of a pin on rose badge so customers can leave the store ‘wearing the rose’.

The O2, another very well known O2 sponsorship property, supported the campaign with an amazing media first roof projection for the duration of the tournament. This was the largest projection project ever undertaken in the world, which could be seen from space! It hit the news headlines in a big way via a planned PR strategy. O2 also used The O2 venue to host a campaign kick-off concert, Wear the Rose Live, featuring the England rugby team and Take That for which advance tickets could be purchased via O2’s established customer loyalty programme, Priority.

Within Priority, we also promoted a range of Wear the Rose related offers (including 50K free England rugby shirts), experiences and content throughout the tournament to physically enable fans to get involved in the campaign.

Within O2’s core website, a designated interactive hub was formed where customers could create a personalised animated version of themselves for their social profile, watch and read the latest content (UGC and branded) and monitor the volume of support the campaign was generating through a live totaliser.

UGC and Branded content


Insight led phasing of the campaign meant the mass ATL launch was a week out from the tournament starting. We then pulsed the activity around the England games, which mirrored the excitement of the nation but also gave the campaign the best chance of success by establishing a good level of cover before the tournament even begun.

To establish this reach and build good levels of frequency, we used a wide variety of both offline and online media channel pushing innovation boundaries throughout and remaining reactive to England’s performance through the tournament.

After releasing the key campaign film primarily to the press, social influencers and rugby fans through paid social media, we launched in ATL with a 130” Ch4 premiere spot in the highly anticipated first episode of Gogglebox’s brand new series. We recorded a bespoke introduction to the film using Gogglebox narrator Caroline Aherne to add continuity from the programme into the ad. At the very same time the film was broadcast across the Ch4 estate through a roadblock buy on BT Sport, Gold, Dave, All4, Film4, More4 and E4 to name just a few.

Building on this we secured cinema takeovers for the launch weekend, airing in the break of every film in the silver spot ahead of the movie beginning. Personalised VOD supported the AV strategy and encouraged repeat visitors to the O2 site by serving sequential personalised messages and images of that individual’s animated character.

Online ads were synced with Wear the Rose and other RWC TV commercials to encourage support from second screeners and take advantage of the huge volume of RWC TV spend across multiple advertisers at that time.

Outdoor media was key to the plan in demonstrating real time support to the nation. Using carefully selected high impact digital screens within RWC host cities we dynamically fed real-time messages of support and the live totaliser into the ad placements — encouraging fans to interact with the screens and contribute to the growing level of support.

Two integrated media partnerships with ESI and The Sun helped tie the campaign together and brought to life what the campaign was all about through reactive editorial. The partnerships utilised all media touchpoints including owned assets of the partners including newspaper vendors, distribution vans, celeb talent access and distribution channels for Rose badges and posters.

During and following each of England’s matches our ad copy changed to become reactive to the tournament across TV, VOD, Digital OoH, Partnership editorial and Social using dynamic Liveposter and TVTY technology. The immediate relevance of the ads, improved engagement rates across the board.


The array of updated and reactive content over several social media channels across the tournament generated a huge scale of earned media. An all agency Newsroom was formed to monitor breaking stories and trends on key tournament days. Coupled with the Newsroom, bespoke live trigger ads were scheduled to react to in-game successes such as a try or a penalty conversion.

As part of the campaign a group of 100 O2 rugby brand ambassadors were created — The Rose Army. The Rose Army were set fun rugby related challenges each week which they filmed and submitted to @O2sport using the #WearTheRose. Despite only a small amount of social media support against the content, they generated a fantastic following over the tournament and the group continue to grow in size as they support 2016 rugby activation.

The campaign organically trended on Twitter at the launch event Wear the Rose Live due to the huge volume of fans using the campaign hashtag across the evening and to ensure maximum take up we secured paid for Twitter trends on key matchdays too.

And it doesn’t stop there….Via a product placement deal we ran an OoH media placement on the set of Coronation Street, Britain’s favourite soap — reaching over 6.5m viewers each week for the duration of the group games. Viewers tweeted about the placement, further adding to the earned media reach.

Key stats/Results

Although the support didn’t seem to help the England’s team performance (this time!), it was O2’s most successful social campaign ever, we nailed it — with over 250K mentions of the campaign in social media. We smashed the target of 5m public acts of support, which was counted on a dynamic totaliser on the O2 site. Over 20K people created an animated version of themselves wearing the O2 rugby shirt to use as their social profile picture generating further earned media.

When compared to the other branded RWC campaigns, O2 took a huge 67% SOV in social media over the period with Dove Men coming out second at 15%.

All relevant tracked brand image statements improved post the campaign as well as brand consideration, which was the ultimate marketing objective.

The significant online traffic that the campaign drove, had a 4% conversion rate to the O2 shop pages, showing a strong halo effect of the brand activity which helped O2 over deliver on their iPhone acquisition targets over this period.