CAMPAIGN: Dark Horses ad repositions HSBC Rugby Sevens as a global sports-culture festival

HSBC extended its sponsorship of the Sevens for a further four years.

World Rugby’s HSBC Rugby Sevens has been given a brand overhaul, a new name and a campaign that repositions the tournament as a globe-trotting series of sporting, cultural and entertainment events.

While design agency DesignStudio carried out the repositioning, naming and visual identity work, Dark Horses has created a campaign, “Destination; HSBC SVNS”, to promote the new brand ID. It positions the series as a “go-to place for anyone looking to have a good time”. The work is aimed at both rugby fans and non-fans, emphasising how people can find entertainment from dawn till dusk in various host cities.

At its heart is a 60-second spot starring New Zealand comedian Barnie Duncan as the presenter of a TV-style travel show. Duncan is dressed in a bright Hawaiian shirt and seen “visiting” various global locations where the series is being played, enjoying the food, nightlife, theme parks and rugby games on offer. However, in reality, he is superimposed onto scenes, using deliberately clunky green-screen.

Dark Horses has also created a range of social and digital activity that combines players with colourful graphics of burgers, rugby balls, palm trees and cocktails. DesignStudio has created a new brand strategy, the SVNS name and visual identity for the tournament.

The HSBC SVNS festivals kick off in December 2023, taking place in Dubai, Cape Town, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and Madrid. HSBC extended its partnership with SVNS last week for a further four years.

The campaign was created by creative directors Josh Pearce and Sean Johnson and creatives Eve de Haan and Josie Beaumont. The film was directed by Max Barden through Sweetshop.

James Rothwell, World Rugby’s chief marketing and content officer, said: “World Rugby’s mission is to grow the sport beyond its traditional heartlands. That means making it more relevant, more accessible and more appealing to more young people and HSBC SVNS is central to that strategy.

“We are delighted to partner with DesignStudio and Dark Horses to create an innovative, exciting and distinctive identity and campaign for the ultimate festival of unmissable experiences.”

Steve Howell, executive creative director at Dark Horses, added: “You don’t have to love rugby to love a weekend at the SVNS. And that’s what this work is all about: it’s not an event, it’s a destination that transcends the sport, unlike anything you’ve seen or experienced before.”