With its Sonic Trophy, Mastercard transformed rugby's player of the match accolade
Octagon and Mastercard won in the Innovation category at The Drum Awards for Design for the Mastercard Sonic Trophy. Here’s the award-winning case study.
As a sponsor of Rugby World Cup 2021 in Aotearoa (New Zealand), technology brand Mastercard had a platform to showcase its continued support of and investment in the women’s game, through the Player of the Match (POTM) Trophy.
To demonstrate the brand’s cultural understanding, we used the voice of the most powerful figure in the community, the kaikaranga, to turn every POTM trophy into a living story, that could speak to future generations of rugby players.
Over 2,080 minutes of gameplay was captured across 6 weeks, edited into bespoke soundtracks, and embedded into 26 trophies, which were then awarded to the POTM minutes after the final whistle.
1 in 2 now view Mastercard more positively, due to its understanding of New Zealand culture and we raised the profile of the game globally, via 60.8M social impressions and 42M total reach.
As a sponsor of Rugby World Cup 2021 in Aotearoa (New Zealand), technology brand Mastercard had a platform to showcase its continued support of and investment in the women’s game, through the Player of the Match (POTM) Trophy. This was especially crucial, given that men’s rugby had historically dominated viewership.
Problem was, Mastercard wasn’t top of wallet in Aotearoa, making demonstration of brand relevance and participation in the market critical. So, Mastercard needed to activate POTM with a cultural lens, reinforcing their commitment to the local market, as well as reaching the hearts & minds of sports fans in Aotearoa, demonstrating the brand’s understanding of the country and its culture.
Campaign success would be assessed against two key objectives:
1. Demonstrate Mastercard’s connection to the local New Zealand/Māori culture
2. Drive conversation of Mastercard’s sponsorship of the tournament and broader
commitment to accelerating the women’s game & growing youth participation.
Strategy & Insight
Mastercard understands the power of their audience’s passions, and how connecting to them helps grow relevancy, trust, and integration into their audience’s lives.
New Zealanders are big fans of rugby. Well, men’s rugby – and their men’s national team, the All Blacks. Despite being more successful and winning more world cups, their women’s team – the Black Ferns – weren’t as supported as their male counterparts.
To help amplify women’s rugby in Aotearoa / New Zealand for the women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 (where the Black Ferns would be defending their title), we tapped into something else New Zealanders are proud of – Māori culture – and used the voice of the most powerful figure in the community, the kaikaranga, to create a memento that gave a voice to the women’s game, and could speak to future generations of rugby players.
Sonic branding is a powerful element of the Mastercard brand, and oral history is an important part of Māori culture. With audio such an important overlap between both, we tapped upon it –creating a memento that gave a voice to the women’s game, and could speak to future generations of rugby players.
We turned every ‘Player of the Match’ trophy into a living story – encapsulating the plays, the emotions, and the fan passion for the Player of the Match. Each trophy was co-created live with the community, with recordings bespoke to that match.
This innovative ‘world first’ also helped put additional media spotlight on the women’s game.
Craft & execution
We worked closely with Māori cultural advisor Piri Hetet and designer Nichola Te Kiri to ensure the ‘Player of the Match’ (POTM) trophy was culturally sensitive, and told authentic stories.
To capture the live emotions of every game, we set up a bespoke Sonic Studio; made up of sound engineers and designers, who collected and clipped the different sound layers.
The layers were made up of a young female superfan, who was mic’d up for every game – her voice expressing the action – the official World Rugby broadcast commentary, the stadium roar, and the Mastercard Sonic brand.
Over 2,080 minutes of gameplay was captured across 6 weeks, edited into bespoke soundtracks, and embedded into 26 trophies, which were then awarded to the POTM minutes after the final whistle. Our POTM became our media channel to the global rugby youth, sharing with them the attention we’d earned.
We successfully demonstrated Mastercard’s connections to the traditions of local NZ/Māori culture. Post tournament,1 in 2 now view Mastercard more positively, due to its understanding of New Zealand culture.
Impact extended beyond this as we also raised the profile of the game globally, via:
- 60.8M Impressions on Social
- 42M Total Reach
Impressively, Mastercard had the largest Share of Voice across the tournament, which demonstrated a powerful connection to rugby fans.
26 Elite Athletes became our spokespeople, and media channel to the next generation.
Significantly, we also showcased Mastercard’s commitment to accelerating the women’s game and growing youth participation.
Mastercard tripled awareness that they’re accelerating women’s sports.
Because it’s not just the numbers; the accountability that comes from visibility will continue to grow the game, and be the legacy for years to come.