SACRED GROUND

Short List
TitleSACRED GROUND
ClientADIDAS
Product/ServiceSPORTING GOODS
CategoryA01. Corporate Reputation & Communication
EntrantWHYBIN\TBWA GROUP MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Entrant Company WHYBIN\TBWA GROUP MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Advertising Agency WHYBIN\TBWA GROUP MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Production Company INFINITY SQUARED Sydney, AUSTRALIA

The Campaign

adidas was not an official sponsor of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. But we still wanted to gain an unfair share of the conversation in the world’s biggest cricket market- India. To get around advertising restrictions during the World Cup, our strategy was to hijack live broadcasts of India’s World Cup games using India’s most popular batsman, adidas athlete Virat Kohli. In India, Cricket is not a sport, but a religion. With #SacredGround, we used a simple religious gesture of touching the ground to create a new way for fans to send their support directly to the players. We issued a call to arms to Virat Kohli’s massive social following. Support flowed in as fans, sports stars and celebrities touched the ground and used #SacredGround to send their support. We hijacked live broadcasts of World Cup to show Indian players receiving the support coming from #SacredGround, by getting the players to touch the ground as they walked out to bat. The support grew bigger as millions witnessed the players making the gesture during live broadcasts. The Sacred Ground gesture became a ritual the players performed at every single match, including India vs Pakistan, where our campaign was seen by one billion viewers. Without any official World Cup sponsorship and without a single rupee spent on media, adidas gained widespread media coverage and connected with Indian fans in a meaningful way.

The Brief

adidas wanted to make an impact that far outweighed its investment in the Cricket World Cup. Despite not having any official ties with the tournament, we wanted to outshine rival brand Nike, the Indian team’s official apparel sponsor. To do this, we needed to harness the power and influence of cricket superstar, adidas athlete Virat Kohli. The goal was to start a movement around him, and get his fan base to spread our message. In India, cricket is not a sport, but a religion. This insight formed the basis of the movement we started.

Results

With one simple gesture, adidas connected one team to one billion fans. We hijacked live broadcasts of India’s World Cup games by getting Indian players to touch the ground as they walked out to bat, something they’d never done before. During the World cup, #SacredGround trended on Twitter and the fans’ involvement led to 131 million social impressions. The support grew even further, as Indian players performed the Sacred Ground gesture at every single match, including; India vs Bangladesh, 98 million viewers; India vs South Africa, 257 million viewers; India v West Indies, 262 million viewers. And in the most watched sporting event in history, India vs Pakistan, the Sacred Ground gesture was seen by one billion viewers. Indian and international media featured the Sacred Ground gesture, including the world’s most read English newspaper, The Times of India. All this happened without any official World Cup sponsorship and without a single rupee spent on media.

Execution

adidas teamed up with India’s most popular cricketer, Virat Kohli. A week prior to India’s first game in the World Cup, the campaign began with an online video as well as posts on Kohli’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. We asked devoted Indian fans to touch the ground where they play cricket, and show their support for the team using #SacredGround. Our message struck a chord with Kohli’s massive social following. Fans, celebrities and sports stars sent their support through #SacredGround. To make that support felt during the game, adidas hijacked live broadcasts, getting Indian players to touch the ground as the walked out to bat. Millions watched as they made the unique gesture at each game. Mainstream media, including the Times of India, ran images of the players making the Sacred Ground gesture, and the support grew even further.

The Situation

adidas was not an official sponsor of the ICC World Cup 2015. Despite this, we wanted to gain an unfair share of the conversation in the world’s biggest cricket market- India. Advertising restrictions meant we weren’t even allowed to use the words ‘World Cup’, or ‘Indian Cricket Team’. But we did have access to India’s leading batsman, adidas athlete Virat Kohli. There was an opportunity for adidas to use Virat’s massive social following to build a movement around him.

The Strategy

To get around advertising restrictions during the World Cup, our strategy was to hijack live broadcasts of India’s World Cup games using adidas athlete Virat Kohli. Our target was Indian cricket fans. In India, cricket is a religion. So adidas used a religious gesture of touching the ground to create a new way for fans to send support directly to the players. We targeted Kohli’s massive fan base on Facebook and Twitter to spread our message. Using a religious gesture as a means of sending support struck a chord with our audience of devoted fans.

Credits

Name Company Position
Scott Whybin Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Chief Creative Officer
Paul Reardon Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Executive Creative Director
Matt Stoddart Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Senior Art Director
Ashwin Gopal Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Senior Copywriter
Mike Napolitano Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne General Manager
Damyant Singh adidas Marketing Director
Siddharth Pal adidas Marketing Manager
Margot Ger Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Executive Producer
Lauren Pell Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Producer
Stephanie Leddin Whybin/TBWA Group Melbourne Producer