crusaders campaign

As the agency for the Crusaders, part of our remit is developing the long-term brand strategy. We identified that even though the Crusaders were at an all-time high, winning Super Rugby titles six years in a row, they were repeatedly reaching the same audiences. New membership growth needed a bit of a boost, and whilst the existing tone serves the current audience well, it was not welcoming to a potential new fan looking to be part of the whānau.

We needed to shift the dial. To do that, we had to answer to three questions:

1.   How do we eliminate barriers to entry to becoming a rugby fan?


2.  How can we reach and engage with new audiences?


3.  How can we guide new audiences through a customer journey, from not engaging with rugby to becoming Crusaders member? 

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the answer?

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How to Fan is a way for the Crusaders to connect with brand-new audiences, whilst removing the barriers to entry to engaging with rugby. Simply put, How to Fan teaches people how they can get involved, learn to love the game, but most importantly it tries to teach that it is okay that they don’t don’t get it!

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“How to Fan is our way of creating a community that is easy to get amongst. One that doesn’t gatekeep, but instead welcomes people with open arms.”

We recognised that rugby can be very confronting due to cultures and traditions, or complex rules, and not something that is easy to just be a part of. We needed to show the market, that even though you might not understand everything 100% of the time, you’re welcome as part of our family.

In order to appeal to an audience that does not engage with rugby and the Crusaders, How to Fan required a brand-new look and feel. The Crusaders current brand aesthetic feels very serious and intimidating, with dark high-contrast imagery and traditional rigid typography. Perfect for a rugby team at the top of their game, but not so much for How to Fan.

However, we still needed to connect to the Crusaders branding to maintain brand recognition and ensure that, whilst the How to Fan brand would lead, the connection to the Crusaders would be obvious.

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We used the existing brand colours, keeping the recognisable red and black. We also kept the Crusaders logo on all our assets, but gave it a How to Fan makeover! Organic shapes, handwritten text and doodle-y illustrations help give a more down-to-earth, approachable feel. This also plays into the idea of the campaign being about learning, as these elements could be seen in a doodle covered school workbook, or a coach’s hand-drawn game plan.

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Typography is all handwritten, with a random mix of uppercase, lowercase, and variety in angles and sizes to give that organic and comedic look.

To blend photography into this design language, it needed to become scrapbook-y. Photos look cut-out with ripped edges or outlines, often layered on top of each other. Black and white, or red monochrome, colour was applied to images as well. Layering the paper texture into everything became an obvious choice, as it was an element the Crusaders were already using that works with the handmade feel of How to Fan.

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'8 Easy Steps' Print Master

We knew we wanted a character to lead the campaign. We wanted a face of the campaign that people could relate to, but also something that brings in a comedic, comic-strip cartoon energy. A simple, doodly, almost-crude, quirky, distinct, gender-neutral character. We ended up creating two characters to connect to different target audiences, to be used interchangeably, or together across our deliverables. 

It was very important to the strategy of the campaign that this character did not have any alienating, or identifiable features, that people might be put off by - they should be able to see themselves as this ‘fan’!

The language used in How to Fan needed to be welcoming for anybody and everybody, no matter their background. The tone used is inviting, fun, light-hearted and humorous. We moved away from the traditional, fairly serious, rugby feel and made a conscious effort to minimise the rugby jargon or lingo - whilst we as fans love this, it means nothing to the average ‘punter’ and that wouldn’t help them to be part of the family. We took inspiration from Kiwiana brands like ‘How to Dad’ and ‘The Adventures of Tin Man’ to develop the How to Fan tone.

We chose Guy Montgomery as our voice - a known quantity that can bring some personality and pizzazz to the assets, whilst not sounding too much like a ‘rugby bloke’.

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'Learn the Lingo' Social Posts

To bring How to Fan to life, we executed assets through a wide range of channels including TV, radio, print, paid and organic social media, along with building a dedicated site to house all the content and help a new fan start their journey!

Check out the site!

How to Fan Social Media Content