How Holden leveraged State of Origin

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 11 July 2016
Holden Junior State of Origin

Holden has turned to social media behemoth Facebook to leverage its lucrative State of Origin sponsorship, ensuring that its multimillion-dollar investment extended past the three games.

The automative brand, in partnership with Channel Nine, its creative agency AJF and Facebook, created a mobile first content series centred around the first ever Holden Junior State of Origin, with the aim to attract different demographics to the brand as well as raise the aweness around Holden's State of Origin sponsorship. 

The series shows two under 12 community rugby league teams, one from New South Wales and the other from Queensland, compete in the Junior State of Origin, which took place as the opener for game one.

Senior manager of media and brand partnerships for GM Holden, Paul Balbo, explained to AdNews that this is the first time the brand has taken the State of Origin’s IP and used it to create a broader campaign, with the project far exceeding expectations.

“Essentially what we wanted to do was rethink the traditional approach to sport sponsorship in order to not just reach audience that the sponsorship provides, but a much broader sector of the population, including people who may not have an affinity with the Holden brand today,” he says.

“Origin is very NSW and QLD focused, especially with broadcast TV, so what we wanted to do was find a way to engage a national audience and this was really achieved by developing a brand story that portrayed an emotionally charged narrative around the first ever Holden Junior State of Origin, so to really help amplify Holden’s support of Origin beyond the field signage and the standard TV activity.”

The brand was also looking to attract a more female skewed audience, which is one that isn’t really gained through the straight Origin sponsorship alone.

The campaign was successful on both counts, with the brand experiencing a four point lift in brand favourability overall and when it came to attracting women, among females between the ages of 35-54 the Holden brand saw a 13 point uplift in favourability and a seven point uplift in State of Origin association.

The campaign has also reached more than four million people across Facebook and Instagram, with the second game of State of Origin seeing 3.49 million people tune in through broadcast.

“In terms of the reach and views that we’re seeing it has far exceeded anything that we would normally see from something like TV in a traditional sense,” Balbo says. “The biggest thing for us is the uplift in brand favourability and the uplift in association with our Origin sponsorship, which has been really successful especially among females.

“The other exciting factor for us is the amount of new audiences that we’ve driven to our website. Of the tens of thousands that have clicked through, 88% of the traffic are actually new audiences. For us that’s exceptional, especially considering our overarching objective of transforming the Holden brand in the next couple of years.”

Balbo explained that this campaign saw the brand make one of its most significant invests on both Facebook and Instagram, however it’s not about taking away dollars from TV - it’s about leveraging the brand’s substantial investment in NRL.

“Sponsorship is really 30% of the journey, the other 70% is actually the amplification outside of that and to have a platform like Facebook and Instagram to optimise that and to have data to be able to do that is pretty compelling for us.”

Facebook’s head of automotive, Ted Bergeron, added: “Automotive brands pay a lot of money to associate their brand with these great properties - whether it be AFL, NRL, Cricket or the Olympics - where Holden has cracked the code is they’ve built a platform to reach people beyond who’s going to tune into the game or beyond people who are naturally going to be included to watch or participate in the event.

“That’s really where we want to push more marketers is to think about the amplification strategy. They’ve done the hard yards, the brand is now associated with the property, but what do you do with that? Holden have done a really good job, the results speak for themselves.”

The State of Origin series ends on Wednesday night.

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