Guinness wants to grab consumers’ attention “in the right way” as it kicks off its headline sponsorship of the Six Nations Championship with marketing activity that focuses both on its ‘Made of More’ brand positioning and its work to encourage people to drink responsibly.

The Diageo-owned beer brand has been the official beer partner for the tournament since 2011 and has a “long-standing history of supporting rugby”, according to Diageo’s head of European beer business Jeremy Kanter.

Speaking to Marketing Week ahead of the tournament, which starts tonight (1 February) with the game between France and Wales, Kanter says it made “complete sense when the opportunity arose to become the title sponsor of such a fantastic and prestigious rugby tournament”.

“[When considering a partner] we look at the type of audience they’re looking to attract and we look at shared values,” he says.

“We believe in the power of sport and think rugby is a wonderful way to connect with people. The Six Nations is a great fit because there’s a shared value in rugby’s honour code of integrity, authenticity, inclusivity and strength, which are all values of the Guinness brand.”

As part of the sponsorship, Guinness has revealed two, vastly different, campaigns. The first, titled ‘Guinness Clear’, is a tongue-in-cheek advert designed to promote responsible drinking. The spot encourages rugby fans to trade a pint of beer for a pint of water – but not just any water, this is Guinness H2O. It’s accompanied by the tagline “make it a night to remember”.

The Six Nations is a great fit because there’s a shared value in rugby’s honour code of integrity, authenticity, inclusivity and strength, which are all values of the Guinness brand.

Jeremy Kanter, Diageo

“We wanted to make something that got people’s attention in the right way and engage them while delivering a really important message,” Kanter says.

“We are passionate about promoting responsible drinking and one of the simple ways to do that is to have a pint of Guinness followed by a pint of water. Guinness has a reputation of being a really high-quality beer and we want to demonstrate that drinking water…