Rugby World Cup Worldwide Partner and Official Payment System/Card MasterCard’s expansive, multi-strand activation programme spans global advertising and regional promotions, ticket purchasing platforms, ticket giveaways and related promotions, a participatory ‘man of the match’ platform, a ‘turn the world oval’ digital drive, athlete ambassador led surprises and stunts, grassroots support, events and experiences.
This broad, integrated campaign – which follows its work as an inaugural RWC partner in 2011 – continues to run under MasterCard’s globally consistent ‘Priceless Surprises’ marketing platform through what it labels #DaysOfCrazy built on the idea of ‘turning the world oval’.
— MasterCardUK (@MasterCardUK) September 15, 2015
Indeed, both before and during the tournament, MasterCard is offering its cardholders a chance to receive rugby-related ‘Priceless Surprises’ – ranges from ambassador meet-and-greets, to signed kits, RWC-branded items and tickets.
Those customers who win a surprise are also being encouraged to share what they win on social media using #PricelessSurprises.
One such ‘surprise’ kicked off its activation around a year before the tournament in September 2014 when Mastercard ambassadors Chris Robshaw and Martin Johnson surprised youngsters from the (struggling) rugby team of St John’s School (Leatherhead) at a team building day on the London Eye.
Working with sponsorship agency Octagon, MasterCard and its ambassadors ran a ‘truly priceless team talk’ to inspire them for the rest of their season.
Robshaw and Johnson are just two of MasterCard’s rugby athlete ambassador team – which also includes New Zealand’s Dan Carter and Jonah Lomu, Ireland’s Keith Wood, former France player Sebastian Chabal – who feature at events, on mobile bus tours, appear in photoshoots, front ad executions.
Just a few days before kick-off Lomu surprised Londonders by leading a surprise haka in the middle of Covent Garden.
— MasterCardUK (@MasterCardUK) September 16, 2015
MasterCard is also blending its rugby endorsers with its other sports ambassadors.
An example of this saw it team-up Robshaw and golfer Ian Poulter for a web video posted in late August 2015 in which the pair play golf with rugby-ball-shaped golf balls.
These are just a few examples of the rugby ‘Priceless Surprises’ MasterCard is creating for cardholders and fans around the tournament.
Others include the opportunity to present the ‘Man of the Match’ award in person.
Much of the preferred payments partner’s activation is hubbed around a branded microsite at http://rugby.priceless.com/en/.
This site hosts a match-by-match fan vote for the player of the game (supporters can also cast their votes using the @MasterCardUK Twitter account).
Other practical fanzone and in-stadium features range from MasterCard working to boost stadium payments options from contactless to Apple Pay and setting up ‘MasterCard Fast Lanes’ that are designed to benefit cardholders’ experience, plus official RWC store incentives.
Also on the practical, preferred payments side of the brand’s tournament partnership, rugby lovers purchasing tickets with a MasterCard through the official ticket platform do not incur a transaction fee(thus avoiding the 2% credit card transaction fee) and the payments partner also benefits from significant brand presence on the official RWC sites.
The hospitality programme spans 365 travel packages across 19 markets and involving more than 55 merchants and issuers.
The payment’s giant also ran a series of regional and local market ticket sweepstake-style promotions.
For example, in Australia, through its 28 Degrees travel card, it hosted a cardholder competition for those customers who spent $500 during the promotional period giving them a chance to win a VIP experience (including tickets, travel, accommodation and a man of the match presentation opportunity) at the RWC.
While in New Zealand the local ticket promotion campaign in May 2015 again featured the familiar face of everyman rugby superfan Tim who returns in a MasterCard campaign developed with agency McCann Sydney.
This campaign invites New Zealanders to register, then ‘Tap & Go’ three times to try and win tickets to RWC2015 in London.
Led by a TV spot – Ruck & Mall – featuring Tim hauling All Blacks star Richie McCaw across a shopping centre, to a cinema and a hairdresser as he tries to ‘Tap & Go’ three times and win tickets.
This was followed up by further spots called ‘Walk’, ‘Cinema’,
The campaign is supported across out-of-home, additional video content and across social channels.
Fans can also register to win the promotion at www.mastercard.co.nz/RWC2015.
This is Tim fourth MasterCard NZ campaign.
His debut ad appearance in 2012, called ‘Check In’, was voted by Kiwis as their favourite TVC of the year at the ‘Fair Go Advertising Awards’.
The follow-up campaign won the same honour again in 2013,
while the 2014 spot made the awards shortlist.
Simple contactless card usage (and Richie McCraw) is also part of the UK’s ticket sweepstakes too.
— Nicola Entwistle (@Nicky_Entwistle) September 15, 2015
Another interesting UK ticket competitions saw MasterCard create a series of illustrations showing normal London scenes ‘turned rugby crazy’ with hidden rugby balls.
Consumers were challenged to tell MasterCard how many balls are hidden in the images.
Those getting the right answer were entered into a ticket draw.
— MasterCardUK (@MasterCardUK) September 9, 2015
— MasterCardUK (@MasterCardUK) August 26, 2015
Other ticket initiatives are being run through a set of media partnerships – such as with TalkSport.
— talkSPORT Comps (@talkSPORTComps) September 16, 2015
— talkSPORT Comps (@talkSPORTComps) September 16, 2015
Another key strand of the UK work was the brand’s advertising programme – which included a major transport media flight and outdoor domination at Waterloo and Twickenham stations.
Consistent as ever, MasterCard’s dependable approach of sticking with its homogenous ’Priceless Surprises’ concept continues with its rugby activation – as it does right through its sponsorship property portfolio.
‘Rugby fans are extremely passionate about their sport, and through Priceless Surprises and Priceless London, our goal is to enable the best experiences for Rugby fans everywhere who are planning their travel to this must-see event,’ explains MasterCard chief marketing officer Raja Rajamannar.
According to Rajamannar, MasterCard’s RWC work, like so many financial sponsor campaigns, aims to make the brand’s image more exciting, to continue to position it as an ‘enabler of fun’, to evoke fan passion, reward customers and ensure MasterCard stands out from what is so often a fairly ‘bland’, vanilla sector.
MasterCard’s sponsorship strategy, which is built on an internally devised consumer framework that divides people into nine ‘mind passion’ categories (including sports, music, entertainment and travel), uses each of its sports properties to focus on different demographic segments.
Its RWC goal measurement programme is built around three silos – exposure, brand equity and generating new business – spans tracking studies monitoring brand preference and advocacy metrics and attribution models showing changes in market share and new business.
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