For the last few years Welsh rugby’s main shirt sponsors has been Brains, Cardiff-based brewers of some damn fine beer.

It continues to be a happy marriage, good business for both the Welsh Rugby Union and Brains.


After all, it taps into two of the great Welsh love affairs – rugby union and beer.

Admittedly, as with most great love affairs, there are the odd turbulent times. But when it is good, it is very very good.

Like most sports marketing, Brains is currently enjoying the association with a winning team.

The company is working hard to capitalise on the link, whilst developing a mutually beneficial relationship with the WRU. There have been some clever marketing ploys and PR campaigns since the shirt sponsorship began.

Arguably, the best campaign has been forced on the brewers by the strict advertising rules in France.

When Wales play in Paris, French laws ban advertising alcohol so there has been a need to change the shirts. One option would have been to remove the Brains logo completely.

But, in a minor stroke of genius, in recent years Wales have been taking to the pitch in Paris wearing shirts emblazoned with the word “Brawn”.


A nice play on words – if you can’t use Brains, try Brawn instead – the fact that Wales have enjoyed a surprisingly good record since changing to the non-alcohol shirts has certainly done wonders for the shirt sponsors too. Indeed, so great was public demand that the WRU had to make the Brawn shirts available for sale.

Now Brains is looking to secure an equally enthusiastic response to the next generation of non-alcohol shirts.

In a little under a fortnight, Wales will take on France with shirts spelling out two words – “Try Essai”.

The explanation is simple:

  • “Try”, as every rugby fan knows, is the aim of the game – the five-pointer, the “touchdown” behind the opponent’s line (for those without a basic grounding in all things rugby).
  • “Essai” is the French word for try.
  • “Essai” also refers to SA, one of the most popular beers produced by Brains.

Although “Try Essai” might not have the same instant recognition and impact as “Brawn”, it is another clever play on words to get a marketing message across and side-step the French advertising laws.

I’m not sure there will be quite the same clamour from fans for the “Try Essai” shirts, but it has already started to prove a talking point.

Of course, none of this really matters compared to the match itself as Wales attempts to make it 3 wins out of 3 in this season’s Six Nations championship.

Its only marketing, after all.


5 responses »

  1. Clever stuff! As a marketeer myself I probably shouldn’t admit to having watched the rugby without noticing any of this. Then again, when it comes to Wales England clashes I find it hard to take in anything but the game. I’m not on the Welsh side of the fence but it sounds as if they won the marketing and the rugby battles at the weekend. Hopefully all change next time!

  2. […] me off to some really clever marketing by the Welsh beer brand, Brains. Read Paul’s story here. When Brains don't work, use […]

  3. […] me off to some really clever marketing by the Welsh beer brand, Brains. Read Paul’s story here. When Brains don't work, use […]

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