Back at the start of 2009, Contagious featured a piece on Guinness' quiet development of RFID technology in association with ball manufacturers Gilbert and the technological whiz kids at the Fraunhofer Institute in Nuremberg. The innovation, conceived by Red Urban in London, saw an RFID chip placed in rugby balls and sensors situated around rugby pitches which can monitor players and the ball itself to log a startling number of statistics such as accuracy of passes and strength of tackles. Potentially, Guinness and its fans would have access to a vast amount of data that could have a huge affect on enhancing the game itself.
A year later, Contagious updates that it looks like the innovation is coming to the fore in an interactive hub and TV spot entitled Area 22, directed by Rory Kelleher and produced by Company Films, Dublin and Believe Media, London. The spot shows a futuristic rugby training ground and concludes with a link driving viewers to Area 22, a site hosting a plethora of rugby information including an iPhone app that aggregates different rugby news feeds, a pub finder that uses google maps and a rugby kicking game. A Facebook Fan site for Irish Rugby supporters has the option to send gifts of team jerseys to friends, (and has gathered some 4,000+ fans to date).
The site will also be filled with stats thanks to the new technology, when Ireland starts its Six Nations campaign in February. The campaign was conceived by IIBBDO, Dublin. All this, of course, is still a prelude to the Rugby World Cup in 2011, when we expect to see Guinness' sponsorship and long established brand association with the sport become seriously mainstream.