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Why Mastercard created the world’s first ‘live’ trophy at the Rugby World Cup

Octagon won ‘Best Technology-led Innovation of the Year’ at The Drum Marketing Awards Europe 2020 with its ‘Live Trophy’ project for Mastercard at The Rugby World Cup 2019. Here, the team behind the winning entry take us inside the challenge faced and strategies used to deliver the project…

The challenge

Mastercard has been a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup since 2011. At the 2019 edition of the tournament we faced the unique challenge of trying to Drive Awareness & Engagement for the brand globally, while showcasing Mastercard as an innovative technology brand. This all needed to be achieved at a sports tournament being played in Japan - a non-English speaking, non-traditional rugby market where the brand has low market share.

The strategy

It was critical that we reach fans during their most engaged and passionate rugby moments; in game, with a cohesive and compelling message for a diverse global audience.

We decided to focus on leveraging the marquee sponsorship asset of the tournament, the Mastercard Player of the Match award. This award is presented to the best performing player of each match (48 matches) of the RWC tournament; as decided by a panel of experts appointed by World Rugby. The question was – how could we use the Mastercard POTM award to grab the attention of fans?

Every game of Rugby in the World Cup is completely unique – it has its own story of heroic comebacks, unforgettable moments, a nations pride. But every Player of the Match trophy is always the same. And Mastercard is all about unlocking ‘priceless’. So we created a trophy as unique as the match itself.

The campaign

Mastercard created the world’s first Live Trophy featuring priceless moments of the game identified through social listening and laser engraved in seconds.

To celebrate the unique milestone of the first RWC in Japan, Mastercard paid homage to Japanese arts by crafting a trophy in an Origami form. The trophy was designed in collaboration with Professor Jun Mitani, from Tsukuba University. One of Professor Mitani’s key areas of research is Computational Origami – the use of computer design software to create complex origami designs. Mitani oversaw the design of a trophy that had a modern look and feel, whilst taking inspiration from the uniquely Japanese artform. A content piece featuring the Professor and explaining the process was launched prior to the opening match of the tournament.

We brought together rugby fans, Japanese design, game pace storytelling and innovative technology to capture every unique rugby match of the tournament.

Prior to each game, we used World Rugby Twitter channels to encourage fans to tweet and share their priceless moments of the match live - a epic try, what a thundering tackle, huge kick. This allowed us to hear what the fans were loving.

As the match kicked off, a team of Rugby experts assembled in the Mastercard POTM headquarters to analyse the match as it happened and build the story of the game. Using an audio to text software service, the group monitored the official World Rugby Commentary, allowing collection of the commentators wonderfully emotional rugby words. Commentary referring to the best moments of the game, moments that sparked excitement or a dramatic change in game play were shortlisted for use on the trophy.

Simultaneously, a bespoke Twitter API monitored Twitter for fan spikes in activity that identified specific match highlights; these were then cross referenced with the corresponding commentary shortlist.

The best fan loved comments from the Official World Feed Commentary team were curated into a list of 15 highlights that best captured the story of the match. 15 highlights = one for every player on the team.

Once all 15 comments had been approved and stylized into a template, a design file was sent to the Stadium Operations office where a specialist team was ready and waiting to engrave the trophy. The Stadium Operations team used a custom rig to hold a match specific trophy and execute the speed lazer engraving process, creating a one-of-a-kind trophy featuring official match commentary.

This Stadium onsite process was time sensitive and had to be completed within the 80 minutes of each rugby match, with the finished trophy handed over for broadcast presentation moments after the full-time whistle.

The process was executed for all 45 matches of the tournament at all 12 stadiums across the 3 main Islands of Japan. On the busiest weekend there were 7 games played in 3 days.

Post-match, a range of POTM trophy content was created for amplification via Mastercard and World Rugby Social channels; including a 360 animated video of each completed trophy allowing fans to read the highlights of the match. Mastercard Rugby influencers visited the POTM Control Room and Stadium Operations Room to live stream the trophy creation.

The results

Mastercard’s smart use of its sponsorship assets allowed us to achieve an overall 80% Share of Voice amongst RWC2019 sponsors.

The campaign achieved a cumulative reach of 3.06 Billion across social and broadcast.

The Live Trophy’s innovation story generated 348 pieces of global coverage and an estimated reach of 47 million.

We created unique trophies at 45 matches in 6 weeks, played at 12 stadiums across 2,337km. We simultaneously translated the live story of the match at the speed of game play ready for a broadcast audience.

We earned more than $3.7M of media due to the innovative execution and real time storytelling, keeping Mastercard top of mind throughout the whole tournament.

We presented the Live Trophy at all 45 matches with over 1 Billion watching around the world.

This project was a winner at The Drum Marketing Awards 2020. To find our more about The Drum Awards, including which awards are currently open to entries, please click here.

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