One of the best and most reliable ways to get a brand in consumers’ minds is by sponsoring their favourite sports team, TV show or even a big event. However, with this big exposure can come big costs — and big risks.
This category looked at the creative activation of a brand sponsorship of a sports, arts, media or special projects event. However, rather than simply slap a logo on a big sports team’s jersey, the best entries also demonstrated strong creative insight, suitability of strategy, solution and execution.
To find out who (especially if you’re on the shortlist) wins the big prize, get your tickets booked for the B&T Awards at the Hordern Pavilion on Friday 24 November 2023? Early bird tickets are limited so don’t run the risk of paying full price later.
Catch up on the other shortlisted work by clicking on the links below:
- B&T Award For Bravery
- B&T Award for Diversity
- Best Content Marketing Strategy
- Best CTV Campaign
- Best Data-Driven Marketing Campaign
- Best Digital Campaign, sponsored by Twitch
- Best Direct Response Campaign
- Best Integrated Campaign
- Best Media Campaign
- Best OOH Campaign
- Best PR Campaign
- Best TV Campaign
Here is a look at the finalists’ work in their own words with the agency’s name and client. The listings are presented in alphabetical order, too.
Bastion, Budget Direct
Budget Direct wanted to build brand salience and consideration by leveraging sponsorship of the brand-new NRL team The Dolphins. We had to help launch the Dolphins team, drive membership and attendance and importantly make Budget Direct feel like their most significant and likeable sponsor – even though they weren’t!
The Dolphins’ best asset was one of the greatest coaches in NRL history – Wayne Bennett, However, he is not known for his humour or love of the media. Our challenge became – how do you activate & supercharge a sponsorship when your most recognisable name is out of play?
We needed another way to connect with fans. A key insight into NRL fans helped unlock our solution: NRL fans don’t engage with brands the same way they engage with other fans.
Budget Direct created their own ‘Dolphins super-fan’ – Dwayne Bennet, Wayne Bennett’s long lost and more extrovert cousin.
Through quick-wit and humour, Dwayne’s character acted as a bridge between NRL fans and Budget Direct, allowing us to share a mix of episodic, always-on, live and reactive content.
In four months, Dwayne amassed a legion of dedicated “Phinatics, including many fans of other NRL teams, including over 40k followers on TikTok, 10k on Facebook, and 8.3k on Instagram. Helping the Dolphins raise to 4th place on the NRL Membership Ladder in their first season.
Budget Direct has also achieved a huge level of exposure across all major social media platforms, with many subtle references to Dwayne Bennett’s great ‘mates’ at Budget Direct
During the campaign period Budget Direct also delivered “its largest Car & Home Insurance new customer sales volume in its 22-year history” said Jonathan Kerr, Budget Direct, chief growth officer.
Initiative Australia, LEGO City
This campaign proves the power of going beyond off-the-shelf media platforms to find new, more influential, and creatively rich opportunities to connect with hard-to-reach audiences.
Through a passions-over-platforms strategy we circumvented an increasingly finite kids’ media ecosystem and unlocked entirely new ways to engage kids.
Traditionally the domain of marketing or sponsorships agencies, we struck the ultimate kid-friendly, thrill-seeking partnership that was 100% identified, brokered and painstakingly executed by us (an Australian media agency) and scaled to the world.
Using cultural analytics, we identified one exciting brand with all elements needed to launch LEGO City into the cool books… NITRO CIRCUS. But, badging alone would not earn cool cred, we needed to inject energy into the experience and ensure LEGO City Stuntz was unmissable.
Media was at the epicentre of this campaign, dialling every single element within the collective ecosystem (LEGO and Nitro), up to 11! We executed the most expansive, deeply integrated and exciting partnership in Nitro Circus history to fuel brand love for LEGO City Stuntz.
Nitro Circus’ Tour Down Under was their biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, helping LEGO City reclaim its cool status, shattering all campaign objectives.
LEGO City GOES NITRO proves the cultural and commercial impact of deep, integrated and mutually beneficial partnerships over tactical marketing ‘stunts’.
Initiative Australia, NRMA
NRMA Insurance has been helping Australians since 1925, and in 2021/ 2022 NRMA launched the brand Nationally. We needed a platform to rapidly build awareness, association, and appreciation of its unique brand positioning of ‘HELP’.
In 2022, NRMA Insurance became the naming rights sponsor of Australian Test Cricket. A deal we helped identify, broker, and execute in a record timeframe.
To connect with fans, it’s important for brands to add value to sport and not just sponsor the code and resort to excessive logo slapping.
Historic weather data interrogation uncovered whilst Australian cricket is synonymous with sun, the most-watched iconic Sydney Test is consistently the most washed-out; Bad weather had the potential to increase our risk of sponsorship washout; less play = less brand presence.
Cricket is a game where conditions count. The pitch is the literal heart of the match; a living and ever-evolving element that over five days of play changes dramatically to continuously challenge bowlers and batters alike.
Protecting the pitch is critical to the integrity of the game, resulting in the rollout of weatherproof covers at the first hint of rain. Yet despite their significance and century-long use, their giant plain white design has never been altered.
With that revelation, we transformed the most untapped media asset in professional sports (wet-weather cricket pitch covers) into a new distinctive media device, one that acted as a powerful manifestation of NRMA’s commitment to HELP. Bigger than any billboard in Australia, this new out-of-home channel delivered unrivalled cultural visibility, ensuring inclement weather didn’t ‘washout’ NRMA’s sponsorship, it strengthened it.
This campaign proves the power of finding interesting and differentiated ways to reinforce NRMA Insurance’s brand purpose, and through a media-led idea helped create disproportionate fan and cultural attention.
It’s an enduring asset they plan to scale and build equity into for centuries to come.
Hyundai ‘She’s Electric’: Using sponsorship to pave the way for female surfers with the power of data
A quick visit to your local surf break and you’ll witness the Aussie love of surfing. However, the sport has a big problem: 1 in 3 surfers are women, but just 10 per cent of junior competitors are female.
It’s a sport judged on vanity metrics for women; if you don’t have the look you don’t have a profile. So It was time to change the selection criteria to unearth the future of women’s surfing on performance data, not looks. In a partnership with Surfing Australia, ‘She’s Electric’ was born.
Working with competition scoring platform, Live Heats, we created a new data metric and connected live-competition data from Australia’s largest surfing events into a national ranking, giving every female surfer a profile based on real-time performance data. The bigger their Average Wave Score, the higher up the She’s Electric leaderboard they climbed, and the bigger their media exposure.
For the very first time, the next generation of female surfing talent was being discovered based on performance, and nothing else.
The Mint Partners, Archie Rose Distilling
Archie Rose has been the Mardi Gras gin partner for three years running and was signed as the official gin partner for WorldPride. MINT identified the opportunity to drive positive sentiment for the brand, which was prepared to put its money where its mouth was and genuinely support, engage and amplify the voices within the LGBTQIA+ community.
MINT + Archie Rose faced a daunting task – to stand out amid the cacophony of commercialisation and rainbow-washing surrounding WorldPride, all while competing as a small independent Sydney brand, alongside big global brands with even bigger pockets.
MINT designed an integrated campaign for Archie Rose, activating hero talent Matt Hey and Millie Sykes, supporting influencers, organic and paid social, interactive online editorial (quiz), infographic illustration along with the slightly cheeky ideation of a talkable moment – the Archie Rose ‘botanical lube’ that was distributed as a gift with purchase and drew much positive commentary and welcome attention. The playful lube idea was blended in partnership with sexual wellness company LBDO and demonstrated Archie Rose’s inclusive values to be proudly for Sydney and proudly for everyone! The suite of cross-channel activity integrated perfectly to create unique story hooks for earned, owned and paid media messaging.
The results were extraordinary! The collaboration with influencers was not tokenistic but resonated deeply, avoiding clichés and fostering authenticity. Talent organic social content achieved 29 times the average post engagement rate and five times the average reach. The lube announcement was covered in key media titles and sparked hilarious social engagement.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 in Aotearoa (New Zealand) was one of the biggest sporting events in 2022. As a sponsor, technology brand Mastercard had a platform to showcase its innovation credentials – and use the ‘Player of the Match’ (POTM) Trophy as a way to inspire the next generation of female rugby players.
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 its 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.
We created the world’s first sonic trophy – mixing the excitement of live sport with fan passion, giving the world of rugby another reason to be excited during the tournament period.
Every trophy contained the live sounds of the match – young female superfans’ passionate voices, play-by-play broadcast commentary, and the electric energy of the stadium. Every sound was captured live and mixed in real-time at the Mastercard Sonic Studio. The resulting bespoke soundtrack was embedded within the trophy, and gifted to every Player of the Match, minutes after the final whistle, as a priceless memory.
26 matches, 26 bespoke trophies.
This innovative piece of tech captured the largest share of voice of the tournament and had significant reach + earned media.
Australia’s ‘Superbowl’ moment.
OMD, AAMI and Seven combined to pull off an audacious stunt that’s already etched into AFL Grand Final folklore.
An epic 90-second movie – filmed across four states and territories over 18 months.
It was designed to fool millions of viewers into thinking the sherrin (match-ball) for Australia’s biggest sporting event had gone missing!
Live pictures seamlessly cut to a parachutist delivering the ball, who was suddenly snared by the wing of a passing jet!
Then, 19 footy legends and the iconic AAMI women did what AAMI Does for all its customers – race to the rescue and save the day.
The Grand Clanger Rescue was an unforgettable spectacle, hailed by thousands on social media as the best AFL ad of all time, and perfectly reaffirming AAMI’s brand mission.
Running the sponsorship literally seconds before kick-off ensured all 2.43 million viewers were glued to their screens.
But there was so much more to it:
- Pre-game Twitter teaser led thousands to subscribe
- TikTok stars Shepmates engaged to promote this epic stunt, gaining 6.2m impressions and 47,700 likes.
- National Triple M coverage alignment.
- The AAMI logo and colours lit up the MCG as the 85,000 in stadium roared.
The figures speak for themselves:
- 64 per cent of all sponsor mentions – a record 121x the year prior!
- AAMI social mentions were 7x the naming rights sponsor!
- 64 per cent Brand recognition for a single stunt – equivalent to 12 weeks of TV!
- Outperformed every other AFL asset against every metric.
- Achieved an unheard of 67 per cent positive recall, with 29 per cent neutral.
- 68 per cent recalled AAMI, +13 per cent norm.
- 405,000 YouTube views.
The 90-second integration alone delivered a record 766 per cent ROI!
Who comes to the rescue for the biggest ‘clangers’ of all? AAMI Does!
OMD, Coles Group
Taking part in the first ever Australian World Pride marked the start of a radical, three-year sponsorship of the nation’s biggest and most attended LGBTQ+ event, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, for Coles Group.
Our ambition – to create an innovative, inclusive and interactive space that allowed Australians to demonstrate their allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community, acting on the Coles Group brand purpose: To sustainably help all Australians live healthier, happier lives.
The relationship between World Pride and Coles was more than just a sponsorship. It was more than just an event. This was an opportunity for Coles to act on our responsibility as a true cultural institution, both pledging support to the LGBTQI+ community, but also providing a platform for our people; our staff members and customers, to share, educate and support.
This wasn’t about badging. In fact, it wasn’t about the commercial benefit at all. This was an opportunity for Coles to align themselves with a community that they support, giving them an opportunity to be a part of the biggest event in the LGBTQI+ calendar, bonding not only their brand to that community, but to all of Australia.
Coles is first and foremost made for and by our people. WorldPride gave an authentic opportunity to showcase the true diversity of our employees, taking an inside-out to drive inclusively, acceptance and of course, Pride, both internally and to the communities that we serve.
Impact extended way beyond the event and the sponsorship platform extended to provoke thousands of conversations; igniting a movement of acceptance and inclusivity in a way that, quite frankly, no other Australian brand could. With an outstanding 65 per cent positive social sentiment and an impressive 15% increase in awareness of the partnership with Pride, CG’s campaign truly united communities, acting as a catalyst for change.
Macca’s brand love among Gen Z was declining as traditional advertising failed to connect with this audience. Gen Z deeply engage in their interests and form close-knit communities, prioritizing constant online connectivity, particularly in the realm of gaming and e-sports. We knew we’d found our platform!
Our approach involved starting slowly and building value through a long-term partnership with Blizzard, the largest game developer in Australia. By earning their stripes, Macca’s provided a stable platform for growth in esports, actively adapting to the dynamic audience demands. We leveraged the partnership with Overwatch 2 and created a limited-time menu in the My Macca’s app, offering exclusive Overwatch game content with each Overwatch 2 meal. A unique in-game skin for Overwatch 2’s main character, Tracer, was unlocked through customer participation.
To amplify the campaign, Macca’s partnered with multiple gaming media groups, esports publications, and top streamers. Collaborating with Australia’s biggest esports team, The Chiefs, they hosted a livestreamed Overwatch 2 x Macca’s house party, engaging their fan base. Blizzard’s exclusive channels and Macca’s extensive digital channels were utilized for promotion.
The results were impressive, with Macca’s achieving its most successful organic post ever, reaching a vast audience and exceeding sales targets. Macca’s gained new customers through the MyMacca’s App and solidified their position as the top non-endemic brand supporting gaming in Australia, growing their rating as the preferred QSR for gamers.
The partnership garnered global coverage from major gaming publications, generating 2,000+ content pieces across 50 countries, reaching over 100 million gamers worldwide.
Macca’s successful collaboration with Blizzard and their authentic approach in the gaming industry not only reversed the declining trend of brand love among Gen Z but also established them as a prominent player in the gaming and esports community.
Special, Partners Life
Life Insurance. Only 29 per cent of New Zealanders have it. And traditional advertising wasn’t a motivating factor in swaying Kiwis to get it.
New Zealand life insurance provider, Partners Life, sought to do something radically different.
We revealed three critical truths:
- “Peace of mind” advertising wasn’t shifting the needle. We needed to embrace the reality of what we were selling. Death.
- Hindsight from an accident, break-in or illness sparks interest in insurance, but death, well, that’s a little too late for hindsight.
- True Crime entertainment is hugely popular in NZ – making ‘death’ more palatable.
These truths revealed an opportunity –
Rather than using traditional advertising, we needed to activate where people were already engaging with death.
Introducing… ‘The Last Performance’. Turning NZ’s favourite murder mystery TV show into an ad for life insurance.
In every episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries, someone dies. So, at the end of every episode we brought these murdered characters back from the dead to share their regrets about not getting life insurance. Using the same actors, director, crew and sets, we created an all-in-one content partnership, media-hijacking, product placement, and good old-fashioned testimonial, that challenged NZ’s preconceptions of life insurance.
All six episodes offered unique hindsight into the consequences of unexpected death reflective of the characters’ life and reminded NZ that that life isn’t scripted so it’s best to ‘Plan ahead and get life right’.
Beyond the TV show integration, we used the dead characters’ pleas in social weekly, and drove traffic to our website.
Our message reached 59 per cent of New Zealanders, category interest increased by 12 per cent, brand awareness increased by six per cent and brand consideration increased by five per cent, as The Last Performance captured the attention of New Zealand and turned a nation apathetic to life insurance, into one actively engaged with it.
Visit Victoria, T20 World Cup
Due to Covid, Victoria’s largest international tourism market (China) had closed its international borders throughout 2022.
Visit Victoria (VV) re-evaluated its International Marketing Strategy and saw an opportunity to drive greater visitation from India to help fill the gap and support future growth.
Melbourne and Geelong were host cities for the 2022 ICC T20 Cricket World Cup. Visit Victoria decided to leverage this major event to reach a cricket-loving audience in India.
A sponsorship with Star Sports the Indian broadcaster became central to VV’s strategy alongside an extensive influencer campaign.
Star Sports and VV collaborated on eight broadcast integration pieces to promote Melbourne to a captive audience in India. These would run within the Star Sports pre-game show of India’s key matches during the T20 Cricket World Cup plus promotional spots.
VV facilitated a hot air balloon emblazoned with the India flag to fly over the city – beamed to hundreds of millions back in India in Hindi and English. Other broadcast integrations included Star Sports taking a boat up the Yarra River, a cooking class with an ex-MasterChef contestant and a street art mural in an iconic laneway in Melbourne.
VV’s influencer strategy bolstered this further. VV engaged over 20 Indian influencers and flew them into Melbourne to promote Melbourne’s experiences during the T20 Cricket World Cup.
VV engaged star Indian player Rishabh Pant as an ambassador. Rishabh helped to launch a PR activation and social competition held in Mumbai to promote Melbourne in the lead up the T20 World Cup.
By the end of the Event, Melbourne was on the lips of Indians nationwide as content featuring the best of the State of Victoria piped into living rooms and social feeds around India and visitation levels recovered to 93 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
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