Lack of consistent hashtag promotion costs RBS for Six Nations sponsorship

Lack of consistent hashtag promotion costs RBS for Six Nations sponsorship

Analysis of the weekend’s Six Nations clash between England and Wales reveals that RBS failed to successfully leverage their sponsorship of the championship to make a social media impact. Lack of promotion and consistency meant that consumers used their own hashtag when talking about the event, rather than the official RBS promoted tag.

Sport and event sponsorship has always had the potential to increase the visibility of a brand, but with the advent of social media this visibility is increasingly online rather than on the TV or at the event itself. With this in mind, WaveMetrix analysed online Twitter discussion around this weekend’s Six Nations matches, focusing on Saturday’s battle between Wales and England. RBS, the official sponsor of the event, promoted the #rbs6nations hashtag for the event, but England’s RFU promoted #rbs6n.
Analysis of tweets around the match show that this lack of consistency, combined with the lack of clear promotion, discouraged consumers from using hashtags mentioning the sponsor. Instead, most opted for the simpler #6nations, without mentioning RBS. This shows that to make the most social media impact from sponsorship, brands must carefully align the promotion of hashtags in order to encourage consumers to use them.
Most consumers used a different hashtag during the match, without mentioning RBS:
Lack of consistent hashtag promotion costs RBS for Six Nations sponsorship
  • While RBS’s officially sponsored hashtag receives some tweets, most consumers stick to #6nations during the game: A lack of visibility and consistency in the promotion of RBS’s official hashtag means that over 90% of hashtag discussion does not mention the brand


Anonymous 28th February 2012

Thanks for the reply, Andy.
(By the way - my name's shown up as 'Anonymous', even though I did complete the name field. Not sure what's going on there!)

Anonymous 28th February 2012


This is interesting stuff, and surely lessons can be learned.

But I'd strongly disagree with the main assertion presented above.

RBS's main mistake was *not* lack of clarity around the use of #rbs6n vs #rbs6nations.

Sure, had the RFU and RBS co-ordinated their message, more momentum may have been placed behind one of the two sponsor-preferred hashtags.

But look again at that graph. Look at the overwhelming scale of #6nations usage. It's hard to imagine how much co-ordinated communications it would have taken for RBS and RFU to overcome that trend with either #rbs6n or #rbs6nations. But should that really be the goal?

The simple fact is this:
Hashtags, in most cases, do not exist as advertising placards. They are labels to bring conversations together. They are usually defined by people, not by brands - by rugby fans, not marketers.

So to derive benefit from a hashtagged conversation, brands should not be embarking upon any kind of hashtag wars. Listen to the existing conversation. Be realistic as to whether or not you can influence the choice of hashtag. And if the greater momentum is behind the crowdsourced non-sponsored hashtag, accept it, live with it, use it and join in the conversation. Comment on the rugby, interact with the fans. Be part of the conversation that's already there. That's what Twitter's there for, after all.

Clive Andrews

Andy Pilkington 28th February 2012

Hi Clive,

That's a fair point. Of course there's more to social media than hashtag wars. If you really want to engage then you need to listen, understand and interact.

It's hard to establish what the impact of more promotion and coordination would have been. What's for sure though is that if you watched the game on TV you never saw the hashtag once. You can't expect people to pick it up and run with it without any visibility.

I'm sure some people would still have used #6nations, even with better promotion, but lack of promotion and lack of coordination must still have had a big impact.

We'll keep an eye out for a good example of a brand doing it well and do some comparison soon. Some context should go some way to establishing what the impact actually was.

Andy Pilkington

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