SPONSORS of the England rugby team have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after glossy giant billboard posters promoting England’s Rugby World Cup campaign were accidentally placed all along Edinburgh’s Princes Street.
The rotating computerised posters promoting the English squad’s appearance at a star-studded event in London had appeared to much bemusement in recent days.
If it’s promoting the Rugby World Cup that’s fine by meGavin Hastings
The “official send-off” for the England rugby side is to take place at the O2 arena on 9 September, when Take That will appear as part of a glitzy event billed as a celebration of English rugby as the host nation of the competition. However, England rugby’s sponsors 02, after being contacted by The Scotsman, said the adverts which invite people to “Wear the Rose” for the team and buy tickets for the launch were only intended for sites south of the border and had been placed at bus stops in Princes Street by mistake.
The mobile phone giant said the billboard posters showing members of Take That, including the group’s frontman Gary Barlow, holding English rugby stars on their shoulders, would be taken down in the next few days and replaced with an 02 commercial advert.
An 02 spokeswoman admitted: “We made a mistake. The Wear the Rose poster is intended only for sites in England. We’re taking it down as soon as we can and replacing it with another element of our Priority campaign.”
Scottish rugby fans had been puzzled about why bus stops all along Princes Street had been chosen as advertising spots for the nation’s main sporting rivals in the first place.
Alan Greenwood, a regular at Murrayfield and a contributor to the Scottish Rugby Blog, said: “It’s all a bit bizarre that they would do this so close to Murrayfield.
“Hopefully it will just make Scotland supporters get behind the team more though and make the players a bit more motivated.”
Scottish rugby legend Gavin Hastings, part of the national side that reached the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup in 1991, disagreed, though.
Hastings said: “If it’s promoting the Rugby World Cup that’s fine by me. O2 is a big sponsor of the game and there are lots of English people in Edinburgh.”
Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South, said the 02 mistake could be a good sporting omen for the Scotland side, which is playing its qualifying matches in the tournament’s opening round at football stadiums St James’ Park in Newcastle and Elland Road in Leeds.
He said: “It’s a bit embarrassing for the company to be advertising England’s World Cup campaign in Edinburgh, but hopefully Scotland can see off England in the tournament and get further in the competition – and then we can truly say Take That.”
SNP Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir added: “Perhaps the World Cup marketing team for England need to do a bit more geographical research.
“People involved in Scottish rugby will certainly have been a bit surprised to see all these England posters quite close to Murrayfield.”
Last month, a Glaswegian response to a similarily geographically challenged Microsoft bus stop advert went viral on the Internet.
It showed mobile voice-activated assistant, Cortana, announcing a reminder about playing cricket at the weekend.
Twitter user Chris responded: “Said nobody in the east End of Glasgow ever.”
The Scottish Rugby Union is understood to be planning to launch an advertising campaign at the same spots in Princes Street as those used in error by England’s sponsors.
The international tournament, held every four years, kicks off on 18 September.