The ARU is coming off the back of what was a very big 2011 for southern hemisphere rugby with the Tri Nations, Bledisloe Cup and Rugby World Cup all taking place last year.
Whilst they have had some level of focus on developing their social presence in previous years, 2011 presented the first real foray into the social media world where they introduced an animated branded content series, a facepainting application and a rewards platform (Rugby Rewards).
Here is a short video created for the Facebook Awards last year (of which we the ARU were 1 of 4 Australian finalists, and 1 of 70 global finalists).
For 2012 they are placing the focus on the Rugby Rewards concept from last year. Their objectives are very much around retention (vs recruitment in 2011) and deeper levels of brand engagement (be this social interaction or a ticket purchase).
The change this year though is adding several different layers to Rugby Rewards and leveraging some of the growing trends in social/digital media – gamification (points game that monitors interaction across Facebook and Twitter), exclusive video and social deals.
Their search for the Ultimate Fan (top point earner) and Ultimate Team (top 15 point earners) means they are essentially tipping the ‘people’s choice award’ concept on its head, with the ARU and the national team (the Qantas Wallabies) selecting and recognising fans for the contribution they make.
This ‘upgrade’ will allow fans to compete against one another in a bid to win a spot on the Qantas Wallabies ‘Ultimate Team’ and in the process be crowned the inaugural ‘Rugby Rewards Ultimate Fan’.
The 2012 Rugby Rewards was launched prior to the Qantas Wallabies first Test of the 2012 Castrol EDGE Wales Tour on Saturday 9 June at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Qantas Wallabies captain, James Horwill, has been encouraging fans to get involved and show their support for the Qantas Wallabies.
“Last year the support we received from our fans through social media was amazing and something the side really took a lot of motivation from,” Horwill said.
“We never take the dedication and passion of our fans for granted and Rugby Rewards is a great way for the Qantas Wallabies and ARU to give a little bit back for all the support they give us.
“I encourage everyone to give it go and show us why they should be crowned the ‘Ultimate Fan’.”
Run via the Qantas Wallabies Facebook page, fans will be able to track their points tally through their own Facebook page and see where they sit – against others – in the bid to be crowned the inaugural ‘Ultimate Fan’.
Fans will have the chance to accumulate points by doing what they love – talking about and watching Rugby content across Facebook and Twitter; and attending any of this year’s Castrol EDGE Test matches.
They will also get the chance to gain exclusive access to a range of public and tiered rewards as part of the Rugby Rewards initiative.
These tiered rewards will be based off the individual fans level of interaction with the Qantas Wallabies and their Official Partners across Facebook and Twitter.
Fans not participating in the ‘Ultimate Fan’ challenge will also have the opportunity to take advantage of a number of different rewards with a range of ‘public rewards’ offered to all fans across the Test season.
At the conclusion of the 2012 domestic Test season the Fan with the most amount of points will be crowned the inaugural Qantas Wallabies ‘Ultimate Fan’ and will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
As part of Rugby’s prestigious John Eales Medal evening, on Thursday 1 November, the ‘Ultimate Fan’ will be presented with a bespoke hand-crafted Medal as part of the awards ceremony on Rugby’s night of nights.
In addition, the top 15 participating Rugby Rewards fans, including the ‘Ultimate Fan’ will have the opportunity to be a part of the Rugby Rewards Ultimate Team.
The Rugby Rewards ‘Ultimate Team’ will be chosen, like the ‘Ultimate Fan’ based on the amount of points they have amassed at the conclusion of the 2012 domestic Tests season.
Members of the ‘Ultimate Team’ will receive a one-off experience to rub shoulders with their Qantas Wallabies heroes at the squad’s training ground at Coogee, a night at Crowne Plaza, Sportscraft and BlackBerry products, Le Coq Sportif footwear and a Rugby Rewards ‘Ultimate Team’ photo.
The team will also be gifted their very own unique team kit, including a one-off Qantas Wallabies jersey. In the coming weeks ARU will begin to release a series of online video content explaining the changes to the revamped Rugby Rewards application.
Using Qantas Wallabies players and Australian Rugby’s favourite mascot Wally the Wallaby fans will be shown just how to use, interact and win with the all new Rugby Rewards.
It will be interesting to see how well it works after the testing from 2011 that took place and with some good investment behind it. Rewards and gamification have been hot topics for a while, with Coke Zone being the highest profile example to date.
Thanks to Mick Briggs from the ARU for the details and good luck for the rest of the season!