CategoryB08. Sponsorship & Brand Partnership
Idea Creation ELEVEN Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Production BOLT Pyrmont, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Roberto Pace Eleven PR Managing Director
Amy Ashworth Eleven PR Group Client Partner
Jade Barringer Eleven PR Business Director
Asheden Hill Eleven PR Business Manager
Russ Tucker Eleven PR Group Creative Director
Annabelle Jewers Bolt Senior Producer
Lachlan French Bolt Content Director

Why is this work relevant for PR?

Millions tune in to the Australian Open every year and millions of dollars are spent by brands trying to capture fans’ attention. Mastercard turned to its PR agency to develop a campaign that would cut through the noise during the Australian Open for their sponsorship. The idea needed to drive talkability, specifically we needed to tell a meaningful story about connections that could be linked to tennis.


The Australian Open (AO) is a landmark event in Australia’s summer with the world’s best tennis players competing in the first of four annual global Grand Slam tournaments and Aussies are glued to the action to see who wins. It’s also a competition for brands, as more and more brands compete for consumer and media attention through their sponsorship. Our brief was to Start Something Priceless® at the AO to get attention for Mastercard’s sponsorship and stand out from the crowd. With Mastercard transforming from a traditional payments company to an innovative payments technology provider that connects Australian businesses and consumers, our overall objective was to show how Mastercard can bring communities together through tennis. Start Something Priceless® is the evolution of Priceless. It’s a call to action to do something meaningful, to connect with others or make something special happen in your life and the world around you.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

We knew we needed to do something different to get cut-through for Mastercard in its third year of sponsorship with increasing competition and noise from other brands. We challenged communities and neighbours to rekindle over a rally. We broke down the physical barriers that divided neighbours. We removed hedges and fences and replaced them with real tennis nets for people in the community to come together over a rally, all in the name of fun and inspiring new friendships. Our message was simple, neighbours that rally together, talk more, bond more and, overall, make the community a better place. We also collaborated with The Happiness Institute on new research to give us stats that would work nationally. Through a detailed PR media strategy, we built out the perfect media package of content, spokespeople and research to launch Rally Together.

Describe the strategy (30% of vote)

We found that our target audience, affluent Australians, were spending more time on their screens than face to face. What united them was a desire to make true emotional connection in their community. Our research revealed that nearly 60% of Aussies never speak with their neighbours but being closer to a neighbour would make 90% of Aussies happier. Fear of rejection and feeling awkward was holding them back. At the same time, we conducted interviews with our target audience about what makes tennis so special. The priceless insight was: it is not just about hitting a ball, but the friendships you walk away with. Our strategy was to show how tennis could help bring people in local communities back together and help them find the connection they seek.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Content The two-minute content not only captured the transformation and the rallies between neighbours, it captured emotional reactions to the real connections that had been made between people that lived close to each other but had never spoken. Case studies and spokespeople We used the neighbours to act as real-life case studies, showing how tennis can bring people in the community back together. We combined these with our tennis ambassador and Australian professional player, John Millman, and third-party expert Tim Sharp, aka Dr Happy. Consumer research We developed tailored stats and releases for exclusive pitches, media verticals and states to ensure a wide range of coverage. The news was announced via exclusives with some of Australia’s biggest TV, news and radio stations, e.g. Sunrise, news.com.au and 3AW. We then kicked off more widespread media pitching and feature placements to ensure the campaign had longevity pre, during and post the AO.

List the results (30% of vote) – must include at least two of the following tiers:

The results were a grand slam achievement. We brought 14 neighbours, their families and the wider community together at one activation and inspired many others through the reach of the content and media coverage. Media outputs We exceeded all PR media coverage KPIs: ● 310 pieces of PR coverage, including 86 TV hits and 190 radio hits (KPI: 53) ● 44,867,995 reach through PR (KPI: 40,000,000) ● 81% of PR coverage included three or more key messages (KPI: 80%) ● 90% positive sentiment (KPI: 90%) ● Coverage highlights included: ○ Two Channel 7 TV segments on Sunrise, including a ‘Feel Good Friday’ segment which featured the video content and an interview with John Millman on the positives of tennis ○ Nine Network Today Show segment featuring the neighbours who took part in our social experiment ○ News.com.au syndication featuring the research ○ 3AW (a major metro radio station in Melbourne) radio interview with John Millman Target audience outcomes One hundred percent of neighbours said it positively affected their community, with one neighbour commenting: The insights behind this campaign were a perfect reflection of how I felt about the neighbourhood and neighbours. I sort of recognised them, but mostly didn’t know their name and could not tell you anything about what they did for work, social activities or background. It has genuinely brought us closer together.” – Craig James, Hampton neighbor Please refer to the ‘Confidential Information’ section for business results.