Product / ServiceINSURANCE
CategoryC02. Use of Social in a PR campaign

The Campaign

State of Origin is an annual rugby league series in Australia between Queensland and New South Wales (NSW). It is widely considered the country’s greatest sporting rivalry. GIO Insurance are official sponsors of the NSW team, which gives them direct access to the players. And the people of NSW, comprising GIO’s existing and potential customers, are passionate fans of the team who represent them. This despite Queensland having dominated recently, winning 8 out of 9 times. With the objective of increasing visibility and engagement with GIO among NSW fans, our PR strategy was to show how the brand was using its sponsorship of the NSW team in a way that gave fans an opportunity they’d never had before - the chance to motivate the players directly leading up to the series. As an insurance brand, the PR challenge was to overcome people’s minimal engagement with and interest in GIO. We also had to counter any cynicism about it being involved in the conversation around State of Origin, where fans are increasingly conscious of brands trying to piggyback on culturally significant events in inauthentic ways. We needed to show that we had a role to play in helping NSW. To achieve this we created Fuel the Fire; a campaign using Facebook and Twitter directly targeting NSW fans. We gave them the chance to send GIO their messages of support, which would be crafted into a single team talk and delivered on their behalf to the NSW players at the team announcement.

The Brief

GIO’s goal was to use its sponsorship of the NSW team to create a more emotional connection with fans who, as a group, comprised of existing and potential customers. Coming from an insurance brand, this had to done in a relevant, meaningful way to overcome any cynicism. To achieve this goal we researched where the majority of State of Origin conversations among fans were taking place, identifying Facebook and Twitter. We worked with the NSW team to amplify our content and partnered with a media company, Triple M, who had an existing, highly-engaged NRL fanbase.


GIO achieved their most highly-engaged, socially-driven campaign with Fuel the Fire. This drove significant scale and visibility among the target audience: • $2.2 million earned media coverage • 2.36 million total impressions • 47k cumulative unique users • Over 1,000 unique fan speeches written, in just 10 days • 160.9% increase in engagement rate • 368% increase in content share rate • 194k total video views • $0.01 cost per view based on $1,200 spend • 1030% increase in GIO organic impressions This success was driven by the vast amount of tagging and sharing that happened. Almost 60% of the impressions came from this type of reach. People who would normally never interact with or share an insurance brand’s content had willingly done so, creating awareness or consideration for GIO among thousands of potential new customers.


Our Fuel the Fire campaign targeted NSW rugby league fans primarily on Facebook and Twitter, the main social hubs for Origin conversations. All content originated on the GIO pages, before being shared by our ambassador MG, the NSW team and Triple M. Every piece of content featured a call to action, asking fans to send in their #FueltheFire messages or watch and share our content. This was supported by advertising on the GIO, NSW team and Triple M’s websites, plus radio ads on Triple M, all of which featured the same calls to action. Our campaign ran to plan, launching on May 5th, two weeks out from the NSW team announcement. This was led by a video calling on fans to send us their motivational messages for the team. The campaign concluded on May 27th, when our team talk video was played at the stadium before Game 1.

The Situation

State of Origin is the biggest event on New South Wales sporting calendar. It dominates conversations across mass media, social media - and everywhere else - and inspires the sort of tribal passion rarely seen outside of sports. The series also provides a high-profile showcase for the brands officially associated with the NSW team. GIO wanted to use the opportunities created by their sponsorship of the NSW team to increase their visibility and engagement with NSW fans, in a way that offered them real utility and proved to the NSW public that we weren’t just a passive, self-serving sponsor.

The Strategy

Our target audience was NSW rugby league fans, who are extremely engaged with State of Origin. This includes existing or prospective GIO customers, i.e. people with other insurers or young adults looking for their first insurer. As an insurance brand, GIO has an extremely functional relationship with its customers for the most part. Their sponsorship of the NSW team gives them a platform to interact with existing and prospective customers in a more emotional way. Our campaign did this by connecting GIO directly with NSW fans - with the promise of connecting them directly with the NSW team they love.


Name Company Position
Vince Lagana Leo Burnett Sydney Executive Creative Director
Grant Mcaloon Leo Burnett Sydney Executive Creative Director
Carlo Mazzarella Leo Burnett Sydney Snr Art Director
James Pash Leo Burnett Sydney Snr Copywriter
Jonno Seidler Leo Burnett Sydney Copywriter
TC Miles Leo Burnett Sydney Strategy Director
Tanya Vragalis Leo Burnett Sydney Group Business Director
Vanessa O'Brien Leo Burnett Sydney Senior Business Director
Natalie Ungurian Leo Burnett Sydney Business Director
Rachel Rider Leo Burnett Sydney Agency Producer
Sophie Walton Leo Burnett Sydney PR
Bryan Wilmot Leo Burnett Sydney Social Media
Andrew Dengate Leo Burnett Sydney Social Coordinator
Stefan Puskcar Brightworks Producer
Seamus Mullen/Jack McAvoy Brightworks DOP
Dave Anlezark Brightworks Editor
Chris Wilton GIO Marketing Executive Manager
Stephen Ly GIO Marketing Brand Manager