Mastercard made sure its rugby sponsorship turned into a loud success
This campaign took home the coveted Chair Award as well as winning in the Design/Brand, Innovation, Partnership/Collaboration and Tech categories at The Drum Awards for Marketing APAC 2023.
Mastercard won an award at The Drum Marketing Awards APAC for its rugby world cup activations
Sports, entertainment and culture agency Octagon cleverly utilized audio branding to make the most of Mastercard’s Rugby World Cup sponsorship slot.
The women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 in Aotearoa (New Zealand) provided Mastercard, a sponsor of the event, with an opportunity to showcase its innovation and inspire the next generation of female rugby players.
However, the company faced the challenge of low brand relevance and market participation in Aotearoa. To address this, it looked to capitalize on a specific moment in each game – the Player of the Match (POTM) trophy – and apply a cultural lens to it, reinforcing its commitment to the local market and demonstrating an understanding of New Zealand culture.
Recognizing the power of sonic branding and the importance of oral history in Māori culture, Mastercard tapped into audio as a means of connecting with the audience. It transformed the POTM trophy into an authentic, audible memento by embedding the live sounds of the match – such as young female superfans’ voices, play-by-play commentary and the stadium atmosphere – all captured and mixed in real-time at the Mastercard Sonic Studio. This approach aimed to memorialize the raw emotions of each match and inspire a new generation of rugby fans.
Working closely with cultural expert Piri Hetet and renowned Māori artist Nichola Te Kiri, Mastercard developed a trophy design that paid homage to Māori storytelling traditions. The trophy’s swooping form echoed the way the Kaikaranga, the most powerful voice in the Māori community, wears her cloak. Māori cultural elements were incorporated into the design, effectively telling the story of the tournament.
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Mastercard’s campaign yielded impressive results, establishing a strong connection with rugby fans and increasing global visibility for the game. Key outcomes included:
Mastercard achieved the largest share of voice throughout the tournament, demonstrating a powerful connection with rugby fans; the work generated 60.8m impressions on social media and reached 42 million individuals. Earned media value amounted to $460,000, while the perception of Mastercard as an innovative brand increased by 78% among the target audience.
Polling showed that 50% saw Mastercard more favorably and awareness of Mastercard’s commitment to accelerating women’s sports tripled. Furthermore, 26 elite athletes became spokespersons for Mastercard, serving as a media channel to the next generation.
By leveraging the power of sonic branding, honoring Māori cultural traditions and capturing the essence of each match within the POTM trophy, Mastercard successfully demonstrated its relevance, commitment and understanding of the local market. The campaign not only raised brand visibility but also contributed to the growth and legacy of women’s rugby for years to come.