With England set to host the Rugby World Cup next year, expect to see plenty of ads that celebrate size and strength, and feature big, burly players covered in mud. Guinness Europe takes a different route, delving into the history of rugby and coming up with compelling stories as it launches a campaign set to run in the U.K. and Ireland during the Autumn Internationals, the sport's end-of-year international matches. Four films, some of which cleverly piece together archival footage, tell lesser-known tales from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (Guinness sponsors all four rugby teams).
They celebrate the inspirational Bill MacLaren (above), who beat tuberculosis to become a much-loved commentator; Johnny Wilkinson, the English rugby hero who, it turns out, is bizarrely loved by the French; Shane Williams, a Welsh player who was told he was too small to make it in rugby; and Ireland's Munster team, which defeated "unbeatable" New Zealand in 1978. All focus on "the inspirational character and integrity that is central to the sport," said Stephen O'Kelly, marketing director, Guinness (Western Europe) at Diageo, in a statement. The ads, by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, launch on British TV today.