Every four years, the Irish Rugby Football Union sees an influx of supporters for the national team – not only in the country, but around the world. The Rugby World Cup is a competition that all die hard and fair-weather fans get behind and Irish supporters are notorious around the world for their dedication to supporting their country. This year, however, the World Cup will take place over 13,000 kilometres away in Japan. Upholding the belief that rugby should be a sport for all to participate in and enjoy, the IRFU wanted to make sure every supporter could follow Ireland in the competition – no matter what.
Standing #shouldertoshoulder with all Irish rugby fans and players, the IRFU teamed up with ROTHCO, part of Accenture Interactive, to help those who would struggle to support Ireland. Although many fans must overcome physical distance, time difference, and access to viewing matches during this time, ROTHCO, part of Accenture Interactive, identified one specific audience that needed the IRFU’s help: colour-blind fans.
Those who are colour-blind – or suffer from a colour deficiency – typically have difficulty distinguishing between shades of red, yellow, and green, with colours appearing much duller than they should. Red-green deficiency is the most common, with blue-yellow (difficulty distinguishing between blues, yellows, and greens) also affecting a much smaller portion of the population. Over 250,000 Irish fans are colour-blind: 1 in 12 men, 1 in 200 women. That’s over 250,000 fans who would struggle to watch Ireland play.
The IRFU’s new campaign tells the story of one such fan. Bobby Blakeney, who has been an avid rugby supporter for 74 years, suffers from severe colour-blindness and is unable to distinguish accurately between green and red. Bobby rarely attends live matches and risks mistaking players for those on the opposing team when watching – even when he’s at home. The IRFU and ROTHCO, part of Accenture Interactive, set out to change this.
To help Bobby – and all 250,000 colour-blind fans across the country – see the emerald green of Ireland, the ‘See Green’ Google Chrome extension was built. The tool allows colour-blind users to apply a colour overlay to a video by adjusting the hue, saturation, and contrast. As colour blindness varies from person to person, the tool needed to be simple to use but capable of delivering a personalised experience. Thus, a slider-based solution – calibrated by using the IRFU logo – easily alters the contrast of the shades on screen. The extension can be used on desktop for any matches that are being streamed legally, enriching the experience across all spectrums of colour-blindness. Although only 5% of the population is colour-blind, they are as important to the IRFU as any fans, deserving to stand #shouldertoshoulder with all those who love rugby.
Adam Crane, creative director at ROTHCO, part of Accenture Interactive, says: “Inclusivity is central to Irish Rugby and the team stands shoulder to shoulder with fans. With this campaign we wanted to explore this idea even further. Colour vision deficiency and colour blindness only effects approximately 5% of the population, but we felt that it was a group of fans that we could and should help. See Green is a simple tech fix that can improve the flow of matches for this group. All our research suggests that we have made it a more enjoyable experience following the men in green.”
Philip Browne, CEO of IRFU, adds: “The IRFU are pleased to work with ROTHCO on this innovative solution for those who are colour-blind. People know all about the importance of the green jersey and getting behind the green team, but for some it is difficult to distinguish between Ireland’s green and the colour of the opposition jersey. Sports fans from all over the world who experience such issues can now see things clearer. While this tool had been developed with Irish Rugby fans in mind, the solution can help people everywhere to see a whole new world of colour. We hope that people will now See Green for the first time.”
The technology will be available to download for free from the 19th September with an accompanying video telling the story of Bobby – and his reaction to See Green – also live on IRFU YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels. A campaign website has been set up to house the technology, featuring instructions on how to download the extension and a series of ‘memorable Irish rugby moments’ that can be altered with See Green ahead of the World Cup.