Outdoor/indoor flow: billboard battles lead to social chatter after NZ Rugby and Sugar & Partners stoke regional coals

For the latest season of MKR NZ, TVNZ played the regional card pretty hard in an effort to drum up some parochial support for the contenders. And it seems to be a successful strategy, because Sugar & Partners, Carat and NZ Rugby are claiming victory after its outdoor and social media campaign got the punters talking about the ITM Cup.

The campaign played on deep-seated regional rugby rivalries by placing unbranded opposition billboards in nine key provinces around the country. The billboards were then shared on the Provincial Unions’ Facebook pages. 

“The idea was to incite a war between the provinces and remind fans what’s at stake,” says creative director Dave Nash. “We were truly blown away at the impact, within the first hour of the billboards going up fans went crazy.” 

All the unions were in on the joke and, in an effort to increase engagement, told fans they needed to get a certain amount of likes and comments in order to change the billboard.

What the?? Who’s seen the Taranaki Rugby billboard near the stadium?! We are looking into who is responsible and…

Posted by Canterbury Rugby on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Have you seen this?! Bay of Plenty Rugby have put up this monstrosity on our turf! We’re petitioning to have it changed…

Posted by Hawkes Bay Magpies on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Not impressed. Here we are prepping for Canterbury tomorrow & Taranaki Rugby go an pull this stunt on our territory! We…

Posted by Official Manawatu Turbos on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Maaaaate! Those Stags are having a laugh….Check out this dusty looking billboard that Rugby Southland parked outside…

Posted by Otago Rugby on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Can you believe it!?!? Those cheeky buggers at Otago Rugby have initiated war! Look at this monstrosity outside KFC Dee…

Posted by Rugby Southland on Monday, September 7, 2015

What the!? The Tasman Makos have put this up over on Devon St! It’s gotta go… we need your support. We need to get…

Posted by Taranaki Rugby on Thursday, September 3, 2015

Have you seen this?! Bay of Plenty Rugby have put up this monstrosity on our turf, even though we beat them on the…

Posted by Waikato Rugby on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Once the required number was reached, the billboards were replaced with a defaced version supporting the local teams.

The campaign amassed over 81,000 likes, shares and comments and engaged an audience of over two million on Facebook. In an age where organic social is basically a thing of the past as the networks all began to charge for attention (one study from April this year shows the average organic reach on Facebook was 2.6 percent), over 30 percent of the social media audience reach was organic, due to the interest in the billboards when they were first unveiled and the likes of Tony Veitch, Radio Sport and The Crowd Goes Wild picking up on the story and adding their spin.

“Creating real world experiences to take off in social is a big gamble for clients but this shows it pays off,” Nash says. And that’s a strategy Hell Pizza has employed to good effect in recent years. 

Nash says getting heartland New Zealand to remember what the competition was all about was the brief, so it was more about increasing engagement than increasing attendance, and he hasn’t seen any attendance figures for this year’s competition to see if it had an impact in that regard. 


NZ Rugby

Marketing Manager:  Craig Harvey

Sugar & Partners

Creative Directors:  Damon O’Leary & Dave Nash

Art Directors:  Dave Nash & Vikki Cheng

Copywriter: Damon O’Leary

Managing Partner: Jeremy Johnston

Planner: Thinza Mon

Social Media Strategy:  Zoe Virtue

Account Manager: Dan Hughes

Designers: Gary Butcher & Stephanie Taylor


Business Director: Will Douglas

Digital Manager: Gary Joseph

Business Manager: Charlotte Chao

Head of Digital Operations: Linda Quach

Business Co-Ordinator: Kimberley Robson

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