Telstra Fuels A ‘State Of Origin’ Twitter #FanBattle

Telstra, the NRL’s mobile and Internet naming rights partner and title sponsor its Premiersihip competition, focused much of its State Of Origin activation around its social media led #FanBattle campaign.


The campaign’s aim was to create a platform for either team’s fans to battle for victory on Twitter in parallel with the players efforts on the pitch.


The core mechanic of the #FanBattle initiative was to count every game-related cheer, jeer, like, post, tweet and retweet and thus determine which state’s fans had won after each game.


To do this the telecoms and online brand created its very own social media centre, called the Sportsfan Lab, to help light up and monitor the State Of Origin ‘Twitterverse’.


The social hub, a kind of ‘pop-up mission control centre, was built within the stadiums where the three games took place and was staffed by 15 social media specialists who were tasked with engaging live with fans pre/during/post match.


Telstra generated interest in its campaign through call to action tweets that polarised consumers into two camps – #Queenslander & #UpTheBlues.


It also linked up with Mark Geyer and Wendell Sailor as brand ambassadors: both former players and icons from New South Wales and Queensland respect to further fire up Twitter fans through their branded posts.


TV, web film and other media work also drove consumers to start using the campaigns hashtags and drive Twitter activity.





As well as fuelling the rivalry and sharing fan messages of support, the initiative was also a platform for creating and curating custom Fan Art: art which highlighted key moments from the match and celebrations.


The brand sent out tweets within the campaign urging fans to follow and submit their work:


“To help your state win the next Telstra Origin Fan Battle and possibly get your own Fan Art follow us @Telstra_News and get tweeting using the hashtags #Queenslander or#UpTheBlues.


At the end of the game, the team with the loudest and proudest fans on Twitter will be announced as our Fan Battle winners!”


Further incentivisation was driven by shirt giveaways and signed memorabilia offers.


Sportsfan Lab was, perhaps unsurprisingly given the amount of traffic it generated, recognised by Twitter’s Head of Agency and Brand Advocacy Melissa Barnes, as an example of best practice for the social network.


She described it as a great example of the way social media can add to the experience of live sporting events.


‘This is the culmination of a strategic collaboration between R/GA and Telstra, with the first social response lab we launched earlier this year introducing a unique way to interact with fans live and one-to-one. The intense rivalry of State of Origin has taken this project to a new level,’ explains R/GA Sydney’s creative director Josh Rowe.


‘All fans have to do is tweet for their team using #Queenslander or #UpTheBlues to get involved in the Origin #FanBattle – we’re really looking forward to Game 3.’




While the Blues actually won Game One, it was the maroon Queenslanders came out on top in the #FanBattle with 52,451 tweets to 50,137. But later NSW fans hit back and before Game Two kick off NSW had racked up 81,029 tweets to Queensland’s 71,907.


Indeed, despite Australia only having two million active twitter users, Telstra claimed that Game Two of the series saw more than eight million Twitters uisers engaging with its #FanBattle.


A Telstra spokesperson said that through Game Two Tweets and Facebook posts, its Lab had recorded more than 4.5m social impressions.


Driving activity and reacting to events live through social media has, of course, been one of the stand out tactics of sports activation in 2013.


From Oreo’s famous tweet in the Super Bowl, to Dulux’s clever leveraging of The Brits, brands both official and ambush have been jumping on the live Twitter response bandwagon.




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