Kingstone Press: Activating Sports Sponsorship

The King of the Fans Facebook Timeline Image.

The King of the Fans Facebook Timeline Image.

Kingstone Press Case Study: The Highlights

75 items of press coverage and 344 online mentions

Over 25,000 views of the campaign pages

59% growth in Twitter audience

122% growth in Facebook likes

79 mentions across regional media

700 bottles of cider sampled by our social audience

A happy media partner and client. Great feedback from the press…

…and 23 ecstatic rugby league fans!


The Challenge

Kingstone Press is a cider brand produced by Aston Manor Cider one of the largest independent cider businesses in the UK. In 2013 Kingstone Press was re-launched with a new brand identity.

As part of this the brand took advantage of an opportunity to sponsor rugby league becoming the Official Sponsor of the Rugby League Championships (becoming the Kingstone Press Championships) & an Official Partner of England Rugby League.

Our role was to:

  • raise awareness of the Kingstone Press brand through digital communications
  • leverage the sponsorship through engagement with consumers via social channels
  • deliver offline coverage in sports and local media to raise awareness and build relationships with clubs, fans and media
  • develop and manage campaigns to engage with rugby league fans
  • help drive trial of Kingstone Press



Sports sponsorship is often dominated by big brands who support their large investment with equally large ATL campaigns covering TV, idents, press, etc. The return on investment from these sponsorships is often difficult to measure. For smaller brands it’s an even bigger challenge. How can you leverage your sponsorship without breaking the bank?

The first step was to develop an appropriate strategy for the consumer communications. From an audit of other sponsors’ activities, it was important to be seen as credible. It was also important to avoid creating content and channels that un-necessarily competed with more trusted sources.

We took an alternative view: the brand should become the voice of the fans whilst acknowledging our lack of expertise in the sport letting the fans educate us. Kingstone Press’ role was to facilitate access to the sport.

So how do you get to the fans? The Championships has a loyal following across its 23 clubs yet many of them have limited resources compared to the bigger sports.

We developed a campaign idea ‘Championing the Championships’ which was a celebration of all things rugby league from the fans through to the clubs.

We recommended finding a media partner for this, developing content for their channels that would give us instant access to an audience and focus spend on building credibility (rather than pure audience building). We created a club highlight area on their site, talked about iconic moments in each club’s history and ticket/cider giveaways.

Coverage in the national media is sporadic but more comprehensive at the local level. For online fans one site in particular, was particularly popular with lovers of the sport. The campaign featured five elements split between LoveRugbyLeague and Kingstone Press’ owned channels.

Overview of the Championing the Championships campaign.

Overview of the Championing the Championships campaign.


What We Did

  • We worked with LoveRugbyLeague develop the ideas and the content
  • Developed the content features that would run on the LoveRugbyLeague site throughout the season. This content was updated weekly on both LRL and Kingstone Press’ social channels
  • Worked with them to drive ticket sales of mid-week matches through our #RLThursdays Twitter ticket giveaways
  • We created a FB app for people to submit their King of the Fans nominations. Fans could nominate themselves or another fan with a 150-word explanation. This created content for PR.
  • Promoted the campaign through the partnership with LoveRugbyLeague and through local PR with regional news titles
  • Created collateral for clubs including posters, flyers and entry forms and worked with them to source content, promote King of the Fans and our competitions
  • With King of the Fans, we put a call out to journalists asking them to help us in the search for their local teams Kings of the Fans. Clubs also got involved, sharing information on their website, social media and announcements at games
  • Created credibility by getting the RFL, media partner and client to judge the contest
  • After judging took place, we announced the winners via social media and press releases to the local press prior to Finals Day. Clubs were contacted too.
  • All fans were invited to Finals Day to represent their club on the pitch. They were all given flags for their clubs and created guards of honour for the Finals games.
  • After Finals Day we issued photographs of the King of the Fans to their relevant local press


The results

The campaign delivered excellent results for both Kingstone Press and LoveRugbyLeague:

  • 16,748 unique views of the Championing the Championships home page
  • A 206% increase in overall Championship page views compared to the same period in 2012
  • 6,510 unique views of the Club of the Week feature
  • 4,990 unique views of Blast from the Past
  • 18.2% open rate on the campaign email newsletters
  • 183 entrants into the King of the Fans competition
  • 9,753 fans reached via social media

The campaign also generated massive interest from local titles with 79 items of coverage on all aspects of the campaign with King of the Fans proving especially popular.