Why Mastercard created the world’s first “live” trophy at the Rugby World Cup

Octagon won the award for “Best Technological Innovation of the Year” at the Drum Marketing Awards Europe 2020 with its “Live Trophy” project for Mastercard at the Rugby World Cup 2019. Here, the team behind the winning entry takes us inside the challenge taken up and the strategies used to carry out the project …

The challenge

Mastercard has been a Global Partner of the Rugby World Cup since 2011. At the 2019 edition of the tournament, we took on the unique challenge of trying to raise awareness and engage the brand on a global scale, while also showcasing Mastercard as an innovative technological brand. All of this was to be achieved at a sports tournament taking place in Japan – a non-English speaking, non-traditional rugby market where the brand has a low market share.

The strategy

It was essential that we reach the fans during their most engaged and passionate moments of rugby; in-game, with a cohesive and compelling message to a diverse global audience.

We have decided to focus on leveraging the major tournament sponsorship asset, the Mastercard Player of the Match award. This award is given to the best performing player in each match (48 matches) of the RWC tournament; as decided by a panel of experts appointed by World Rugby. The question was: how could we use the POTM Mastercard prize to grab the attention of fans?

Every rugby match in the World Cup is completely unique – it has its own story of heroic comebacks, unforgettable moments, national pride. But every player of the match trophy is always the same. And Mastercard is all about unlocking “priceless”. So we created a trophy that is as unique as the game itself.


Mastercard created the world’s first live trophy featuring priceless moments from the game identified through social listening and laser-etched in seconds.

To celebrate the unique milestone of the first RWC in Japan, Mastercard paid homage to Japanese arts by crafting a trophy in the shape of an origami. The trophy was designed in collaboration with Professor Jun Mitani, University of Tsukuba. One of Professor Mitani’s main areas of research is computer origami – the use of computer design software to create complex origami designs. Mitani oversaw the design of a trophy that had a modern look and feel, while taking inspiration from the uniquely Japanese art form. Content featuring the professor and explaining the process was launched ahead of the tournament opener.

We’ve brought together rugby fans, Japanese design, pace-of-play narration, and innovative technology to capture every unique rugby match in the tournament.

Before each match, we used World Rugby’s Twitter channels to encourage fans to tweet and share live their priceless moments from the match – an epic try, what a thunderous tackle, a huge kick. It allowed us to hear what the fans loved.

At the start of the match, a team of rugby experts gathered at the Mastercard POTM headquarters to analyze the match as it unfolded and build the story of the match. Using an audio-to-text software service, the group monitored World Rugby’s official commentary, allowing commentators to collect wonderfully moving rugby words. Comments referring to the best moments in the game, moments that generated excitement, or a drastic change in the game have been shortlisted for use on the trophy.

At the same time, a bespoke Twitter API monitored Twitter for spikes in fan activity who identified specific match highlights; these were then cross-checked with the shortlist of corresponding comments.

The most popular comments from fans of the World Feed Official Commentary Team have been compiled into a list of 15 Highlights that best captured the story of the match. 15 highlights = one for each player on the team.

Once the 15 comments were approved and styled into a template, a design file was sent to the stadium operations office where a team of specialists were ready and waiting to burn the trophy. The stadium operations team used a custom platform to hold a match-specific trophy and perform the rapid laser engraving process, creating a one-of-a-kind trophy with official match commentary.

This on-site stadium process was time sensitive and had to be completed within 80 minutes of each rugby match, with the finished trophy handed in for a presentation released moments after the full-time whistle.

The process was carried out for the 45 matches of the tournament in the 12 stadiums of the 3 main islands of Japan. On the busiest weekend, 7 games were played in 3 days.

After the match, a range of POTM trophy content was created for amplification through Mastercard and World Rugby’s social channels; including a 360 animated video of each completed trophy allowing fans to read the highlights of the match. Mastercard Rugby influencers visited the POTM control room and stadium operations room to live stream the creation of the trophy.

The results

Mastercard’s smart use of its sponsorship assets allowed us to achieve an 80% global voice share among RWC2019 sponsors.

The campaign reached a cumulative reach of 3.06 billion on social media and broadcast.

The Live Trophy innovation story has generated 348 articles with global coverage and an estimated reach of 47 million.

We created unique trophies in 45 matches in 6 weeks, played in 12 stadiums over 2,337 km. We simultaneously translated the live story of the match at the speed of the game ready for a broadcast audience.

We won over $ 3.7 million in media through innovative execution and real-time storytelling, keeping Mastercard in the lead throughout the tournament.

We presented the trophy live in all 45 matches with over a billion spectators worldwide.

This project was a winner of the Drum Marketing Awards 2020. To learn more about the Drum Awards, including the awards currently open for nominations, please click here.

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