Astellas’ partnership with international rugby events beneficial to all

Just a few weeks prior to the record-breaking United States Men’s Eagles match against the New Zealand All Blacks at Soldier Field, Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Astellas signed on as exclusive healthcare sponsor of the event.

Formed 10 years ago following the merger of Fujisawa Healthcare and Yamanouchi Pharmaceuticals, the company had been brainstorming ideas on how to further reinforce its commitment to healthy living to consumers and healthcare providers around the world. With the announcement earlier in the year of a historic international rugby match at Soldier Field, an iconic, landmark stadium not 30 miles from the organization’s Northbrook offices, there could not have been a better opportunity for the company.

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A “kickoff” event held at the Astellas Americas headquarters featured Men’s Eagles Sevens players Carlin Isles and Zack Test, as well as Rookie, the USA Rugby mascot, to raise awareness of the partnership. Eagles Todd Clever and Andrew Suniula also appeared on local news broadcasts wearing team polos with Astellas branding.

“Astellas is dedicated to helping people live a healthy life, and we believe that physical activity is a key part of that,” Astellas Pharma US President Jim Robinson said. “Through our collaboration with USA Rugby, our goal is to provide thousands of people with the information they need to live a healthier tomorrow.”

In partnership with national patient advocate Men’s Health Network, Astellas hosted a free health screening outside of the Eagles’ training complex during the build-up week. Participants in the health screening received important information and testing on health conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and prostate cancer risk.

Open to the public, the screening was also attended by Isles and Test, who lauded the pharmaceutical company for its work in the community. Following the training session mere meters from the screening tent, the Eagles preparing for an international test lined up to receive their own check up, greeting fans and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White at Quest Multisport Complex.

The free screening was a success, and was replicated on match day in front of Soldier Field. With thousands of fans partaking in the fan fest ahead of the match, hundreds took the time from the celebratory atmosphere outside to get important information about healthy living from Astellas and Men’s Health Network employees.

Astellas branding was prominent inside Soldier Field just as it was on the outside, with video boards around the pitch displaying the company logo and a print ad in the limited edition match program bearing the headline, “Together, we change tomorrow.”

For those not at the stadium, Astellas’ U.S.-based entity produced its first corporate commercial that aired during the live match broadcast on NBC. More than one million viewers tuned into the match Nov. 1, providing significant reach for Astellas.

“Our rugby-based community engagement programs bring forward innovative activities that generate excitement for sport, provide health education opportunities, and engage fans in being active members of the communities so many Astellas employees and customers call home,” Robinson added.

For its effort, Astellas recently received multiple Public Relations Society of America Chicago Skyline Awards. Jeff Winton, chief communications officer and senior vice president of corporate affairs, was named the Chicago Public Relations Professional of the Year, while the company’s use of players and branding to leverage a message of healthy living resulted in an award of excellence for community relations.

Following on the successes of last year’s sold-out match in Chicago, the Windy City will again welcome one of the best international rugby nations in the world, Australia, as the Eagles prepare for Rugby World Cup 2015 England. Astellas will be ever-present this year as the event’s presenting sponsor and will further engage a global audience with a prostate cancer disease awareness challenge.

See the Eagles take on the winner of the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups Saturday, Sept. 5, at Soldier Field. Tickets are available at prices starting from $30 via Ticketmaster. For more information on the match, visit the USAvAUS event website.