How Microsoft Connected Rugby Rivals Across the Globe

The Situation

Despite the long-standing rivalry between the British and Irish Lions Rugby Club and the Australian Wallabies, the distance between Great Britain and Australia made it difficult for the fans to interact with each other.

Our Strategy & Activation

As a sponsor of the Lions, Microsoft wanted to bring fans closer to the action and stoke up one of the sport’s greatest rivalries. In order to do that, we had to bridge the 10,000 mile gap by allowing rivals to talk smack and engage in some friendly competition.

How do you connect rivals from across the globe? Microsoft dug a hole – a really big hole. Starting in Cardiff, Wales and breaking through the surface in Melbourne, Australia, we created a hole in the world to connect these cross-continent rugby rivals.

The three-day event used Microsoft technologies and connected Skype service to allow British and Irish Lions fans to peer into a virtual hole in the ground and shout a message “down” to the Aussie fans below. In turn, Australian Wallaby fans on the other side could do the same, giving these rivals the ability to engage in the tradition of trash talking and playful taunting – ultimately bringing each side together in the moments leading up to the game.

The Results

Beyond the trash talking, unique performances, fan contests, former player participation, and a social media wall to display the worldwide participation in this one-of-a-kind fan event helped amplify the fun for the 29,000 fans that stopped by. And, with local media dropping by on both sides of the planet, our total news audience exceeded 50 million.

Songs were sung, old mates were united, and rugby fans got to stick it to each other face-to-face – all courtesy of Microsoft. Because, after all, Microsoft is about bringing us closer together – no matter how far away we are.