RPC Sports Ticker (13 September 2021) - Heineken & women's sports, World 12s and gaming restrictions

Published on 13 September 2021

In a fortnight during which Emma Raducanu broke countless records by winning the US Open, Cristiano Ronaldo made a goalscoring return to Man United, and where Nike gave US head office workers a week off to re-connect with loved ones and “power down” from work, we feature Heineken's latest partnerships in women's sports, a new rugby tournament proposal and BMW and Fnatic's new esports campaign. We also feature China's latest crackdown on under 18 gaming and the suspended World Cup qualifier game between Argentina and Brazil.

We also include information on London Tech Week, and a session that we will be hosting in-person on partnerships between esports and gaming organisations, and retail / consumer brands.

As always, if there are any areas you’d like more information on (or if you have any questions or feedback), please let us know or get in touch with your usual RPC contact.

Cheers to Women's sport

Heineken has not only signed up as the official partner of UEFA's Women's Champions League together with the UEFA's Womens' EURO 2022 and 2025, but also the W Series, the international single-seater motor racing championship for female drivers. Heineken is said to be building on its already existing partnerships with football and motorsports alongside showing its commitment to fans. The partnership with UEFA's women's tournament (up until the 2024/25 season) will provide Heineken with hospitality, additional ticketing, branding and pouring opportunities, whilst the partnership with the W Series will give visibility for its 0.0 alcohol free product at the race track. The excitement around such sponsorships has been shared by many with the announcement being celebrated in a new film featuring Heineken ambassadors Thierry Henry and David Coulthard, alongside Pernille Harder, Melanie Leupolz, Jamie Chadwick, and Naomi Schiff. An exciting announcement for Heineken, demonstrating its support of female sports. Read more

Rugby to give new format a try?

World 12s has been announced as a new 12-a-side rugby tournament, proposed to commence in August 2022. The tournament is expected to take place over three weekends before a knockout phase with equal prize money for the men's and women's competitions. It is intended that the competition will feature 192 of the world's best players from tier one and tier two nations who would be chosen via an auction which is hoped will inject around £250m into the Rugby Union. Ian Ritchie, World 12 Limited's chairman commented: “this is a game for our changing, fast-paced world that can excite a global fanbase the way we have seen with … The Hundred in cricket”. Alternative and shorter format sports are on the rise (see Ticker 45), primarily with a focus on attracting new (and often younger) fans. The World 12s has received support from the likes of New Zealand's former head coach Steve Hansen and former chief executive Steve Tew but, unsurprisingly, the proposed new format has also faced criticism from various stakeholders. The most significant of which relate to questions around player welfare and a congested fixture list. Simon Halliday, European Professional Club Rugby chairman gave particularly strong comments stating that he found the proposal to be “nonsensical” and “illogical”. Read more

It's all about balance

Fnatic and BMW have teamed together to launch a new esports campaign called “Drive is the Difference” which consists of a 10-minute documentary style “hero film” featuring Tekkz (FIFA esports World Champion) and Shawrey (esports star) as well as four 45 second supporting films. The partnership focuses on both Fnatic and BMW's aims of creating excellence and high performance, whilst also understanding the pressure that the intensity of esports pro players spending around 7-9 hours practicing daily can bring. The campaign therefore aims to promote a balance and ensure that players are aware of and focus on their mental and physical needs. The campaign portrays a great message, encouraging a balance between gaming and general down time and relaxation by reiterating the importance of switching off to recharge, a message which is particularly important following the pandemic and a series of lockdowns. The campaign can be watched on Fnatic's YouTube page (see here). Read more

China cracks down on screen time for gamers

The latest rules in China now limit Chinese children to playing only one hour of video games on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Under the regulations, online gaming companies are only able to allow under-18s to play between 8pm and 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The gaming companies must use real-name registration systems and login requirements in order to enforce the rules. According to Chinese state media, this move was designed to protect minors' (defined as under-18s) mental and physical health as well as to prevent overindulgence in online gaming. This extremely restrictive policy has led to a drop in stock prices for Tencent and NetEase, giants of the gaming providers industry, in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last week. This latest move came amid a regulatory shake-up of China's tech-industry. Read more

0 - 0 for Brazil and Argentina

Perhaps one of the shortest international games in history - only minutes after the World Cup qualifier game between Brazil and Argentina started in Sao Paulo, it was suspended as Brazilian health officials thought that some of the Argentine players had broken the quarantine rules (see Ticker 45). Antonio Barra Torres, director at Anvisa (Brazil's health regulator) commented: “[the four players] were directed to remain isolated while awaiting deportation, but they did not comply. They went to the stadium and they entered the field”. FIFA is currently gathering and reviewing evidence from both the health authority and the club in order to ensure it fully understands all events before deciding on the most appropriate action. This suspension demonstrates how seriously breaches of covid protocols and quarantine rules are being taken, regardless of potential cancellations and other consequences, and it will likely serve as a reminder to other players and clubs to ensure they follow procedures and prevent any similar situations occurring in future. Read more

Extra time...

… and finally, to mark London Tech Week, we are delighted to announce that RPC will be hosting a series of in-person events and experiences this month, including an afternoon on Thursday, 23 September focused on the technologies shaping the retail industry and within this, an esports and gaming takeover! It’s amazing how old it can sound to still be saying that the esports and gaming industries are huge – and are exploding. But it is a truism nonetheless and the data doesn’t lie. Valuations are continuing to grow; brand engagement and the interrelation between traditional sports, influencers, non-endemic consumer brands shows no signs of slowing; and the prominence of gaming arenas on our high streets and the return of physical gaming expos and competitions around the world underline the importance of esports and gaming to other industries as well. Our session on Thursday 23 September at 3pm will bring together a variety of stakeholder voices to discuss what’s on the horizon for partnerships between esports and gaming organisations, and retail / consumer brands. To register to attend this event (or any of the RPC at London Tech Week series), please contact us (or your usual RPC contact). We will be sending you an email separately in the week with further information.