PlaceMakers needed to reignite their sponsorship activity with New Zealand Super Rugby, as their tried-and-true strategy had lost its sheen. But the landscape of rugby sponsorship is saturated – and massive budgets are often needed to cut through the chatter.
How could we reimagine their Punt for Prizes campaign in a way that would maximise reach, build brand loyalty, and rekindle the relationship between tradies and PlaceMakers? The answer was a micro-influencer campaign led by die-hard Super Rugby fans – who just happened to be customers.
Stage one: The Captain’s Quest
The campaign began with the Captain’s Quest, a New Zealand-wide recruitment drive where we invited the top scoring 100 punters from each of the five Super Rugby team regions from the previous season to apply to be their region’s ‘Captain’.
Stage two: Clash of the Captains
We got an amazing response from around the country, as punters put forward their ‘Power Stats’ and ‘Signature Moves’, along with passionate arguments for why they should be Captain. Clash of the Captains put it to a public vote as the two finalists from each team went head to head. To vote, users had to log in through Facebook, netting us a database to contact and drive conversion into punters.
Stage three: Introducing The Tight 5
For each week of the Super Rugby season, The Tight 5 were tasked with generating engaging content, building their own social media fanbase, and most importantly, encouraging fans to submit their punts to win prizes. In return, they got free match tickets and – most importantly – honourary standing as Captains.
The Captains were incredibly resourceful, pulling out all the stops to ensure their social media following was fully engaged in Punt for Prizes, and generating a groundswell of engagement and excitement to leverage and convert punters at season start. The campaign also created an authentic voice for Punt for Prizes that became a genuine demonstration of the PlaceMakers brand, ‘Together we’re building New Zealand’.
Collectively, the Captains recruited nearly 7,000 fans on their own community pages, promoting a flood of 6,000+ followers on PlaceMakers’ social channels and a 15% YoY rise in post engagement. Our strategy also led to an increase of 7,600+ users in the Punt for Prizes database prior to the start of the Super Rugby Season, which provided an opportunity to convert sign-ups into players and, most importantly, customers. We saw a rise of over 20% in first-week Punter activity from the previous year and almost 40% of users participating in Punt for Prizes social ‘group’ functionality.
So what did we learn?
1. Keep it genuine
Finding your greatest promotors and putting them in a position where they can talk to your entire audience is only ever going to be a huge positive for your brand and your customers.
2. Sponsorship for its own sake doesn’t work
Rather than just putting your logo next to another brand, it’s important to build real value into the platform for both your influencers and your customers – this will give you the return you need.
3. Start as you mean to go on
We’re currently planning a hall of fame for the most successful Captain each year, including a shield engraved with their name as a thank you to them and their fans.
Some words from the front line
“We’ve loved working with our Punt for Prizes Captain, Bevan. He’s had great ideas that have been easy to pull off, engaging the fans in Chiefs Country right from the get go. He’s even managed to convert some long standing Hurricanes supporters to our Chiefs’ whanau so that’s a win for us!”
Emma Langman, Sponsor & Community Relations Manager for The Chiefs
“The Blues Captains role has given me unprecedented access into the Blue’s super rugby team environment. Creating content that’s engaging and inspiring participation has been truly rewarding. Thanks for this amazing opportunity to really get behind a team I love so passionately!”
Lenny Pene, Fan Captain of The Blues