Rubicon hit sales targets using cricket sponsorship

  • Rubicon wanted to increase sales during a World Cup year
  • By sponsoring the ICC World Twenty20 they reached out to a new audience
  • The Rubicon brand grew a massive 66% year on year


In recent years, Rubicon has become an ethnic stable, drunk regularly by well over half of the ethnic population in the UK with a third saying it’s the brand they drink most often (source: Ethnibus tracking March 2010). Awareness of the brand within the ethnic community was very high although awareness outside of the ethnic community remained low. One of the key challenges therefore was to expand the brand and appeal to a broader audience.    

Rubicon is an exotic fruit drink brand that has a hefty competitive set that includes the likes of Coca-Cola, Lucozade, Ribena, Tropicana and Oasis. The additional challenge was to grow sales in this highly competitive market. To make the challenge more interesting, AG Barr would be looking to grow the brand in a FIFA World Cup year where these multi-national soft drinks competitors would be spending millions on advertising featuring some of the most famous faces on the planet (Pepsi’s ad featured Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba for example). 

To tackle these challenges, they needed to find a TV solution that would successfully bridge the divide between ethnic and mainstream without alienating the core ethnic audience as well as achieving standout amongst high spending competitors. 

The Solution

There is one sport that unites ethnic and mainstream audiences and that is cricket. It is a sport which originated in the UK but creates fervour amongst almost all of Rubicon’s core customer communities. It is the second most popular sport in the UK, as well as being the most popular sport to watch on TV amongst South Asians (source TGI 2010). In fact, amongst the UK’s Indian and Pakistani communities, it is as important as football.

However, the traditional ‘English’ cricket of starched cricket whites, long test matches, and cucumber sandwiches weren’t the values associated with the vitality of Rubicon. Luckily, 2010 was the year of the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup. Since its inception in 2003, Twenty20 cricket has experienced a rapid rise in popularity due to the urgency of the game and the fast-paced action more traditionally associated with sports such as rugby and football.

Rubicon could engage both the ethnic and mainstream audiences by harnessing the colour, vibrancy and excitement of Twenty20 cricket with the colour, vibrancy and excitement of the Rubicon range. An additional benefit was that the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup was taking place in the West Indies – a region that not only fits with the brand personality profile but also where Rubicon is extremely popular. 

A sponsorship package was created for the ICC World Twenty20 coverage across Sky Sports 1,2,3,4 and the Sky website. The deal included both live, repeats and highlights coverage and also Rubicon was incorporated into all of Sky’s promotional activity for the tournament. In addition, there were competitions both online and on air to win a trip to the Caribbean with Rubicon.

Because cricket coverage generates a large number of advertising breaks, this means Rubicon would be receiving a very high number of sponsorship credits. PHD North and Drum worked closely with The Minimart creative agency to create eighteen sponsorship idents and these were rotated across matches to tell a story across each match. This large number of creative executions minimised the chances of irritating those who the brand was trying to engage. 

With England winning the ICC World Twenty20 for the first time ever, TV ratings for the tournament peaked at over two million individuals for the final between England and arch-rivals Australia on 16th May 2010 on Sky Sports 1. 

The partnership was also leveraged off air as the association was carried through to trade store activity. This involved high profile displays which included the ‘Stade de Rubicon’ in Bestway (one of the largest cash and carry chains) where a Rubicon cricket competition took place in store. 

To further extend the message across the whole summer, the themes of the sponsorship idents were embedded into a TV spot. After the tournament had finished, a TV campaign including TVoD targeted other forms of cricket and exotic travel programmes to reach both cricket fans and the main shopper audience. 


  • The Rubicon brand grew a massive 66% year on year versus a total soft drinks market growth of just 6%. Carbonates performed particularly well, doubling year on year (Nielsen MAT Val – November 2010 – Total grocers)
  • This success extended to key trade customers such as Bestway who also showed significant sales increases
  • Rubicon juice drink distribution has also increased 22% year on year across total grocers and 18% in multiples (Nielsen Ac Wtd Selling Distribution 12 weeks year on year December 2010)
  • Post campaign, overall spontaneous brand awareness reached 32% amongst a broad audience, on a par with Ribena and Lucozade and when prompted with a list of brands, awareness increased to an incredible 78%
  • Winner of the ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’ at the 2011 World Food Awards
  • Winner of ‘Best Use of Sponsorship or Content’ in the TV Planning Awards 2011

Rubicon’s sponsorship of the ICC World Twenty20 on Sky Sports was a huge success for the brand and perfectly opened Rubicon’s summer of cricket campaign. Twenty20 cricket provided a great vehicle to extol Rubicon’s values of colour, vibrancy and flamboyancy. In addition to receiving an excellent response from our core ethnic consumers and customers, the activity has also successfully introduced the brand to a much broader mainstream audience.

Ben Anderson, Senior Brand Manager, Rubicon


Sector: Soft drinks

Brand: Rubicon

Campaign objectives: Increase sales and expand brand beyond core ethnic audience

Target Audience: 16 to 34 Adults

Budget: £1m - £2m

Campaign Dates: Sponsorship of ICC World Twenty20 from 30th April – 16th May 2010 on Sky Sports, TV campaign ran from 24th May – 20th June 2010

TV Usage: Sponsorship idents + 20” and 30” TV spots (at roughly 1:1 for 16 to 34 Adults)

Creative Agency: The Minimart

Media Agency:  PHD North and Drum

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