Player 23 launches


Ad agency Draftfcb Johannesburg and commercials production company Picture Tree have teamed up to create a new campaign for cell phone operator Vodacom to leverage its sponsorship investment in South African rugby.

Directed by Alan Irvin, the campaign intends to create a lasting emotional bond with the country’s rugby fan base. It centres on the man wearing the number 23 on his back. He’s an integral part of the team, knows all its players and their strengths and weaknesses intimately but, he’s not the coach or the manager or even a player, he’s a fan, the fan Vodacom wants to embrace and influence at as many touch points as possible.
A critical driver of the interactive element of the campaign is the website, This content-rich environment includes details on every team and every player in all the rugby properties Vodacom sponsors from the Vodacom Super 14, the Vodacom Cup and the Vodacom Tri Nations. Depending on the fan’s particular affiliation or preferences, the site will intuitively customise its appearance whenever that fan logs in.
A mobisite has also been developed. Both will make photographs taken of fans enjoying matches around the country available for download, emailing or MMS.

Above-the-line elements launching during the next few weeks to support the Player 23 digital drive include print, radio, stings and squeeze backs, and a 60 second television commercial featuring the Afrikaans singing sensation, Robbie Wessels, and several dynamite lookers dancing to a jingle.

Vodacom’s Managing Executive: Marketing, Enzo Scarcella, said that the challenge put to the Draftfcb team was to maintain the breadth of Vodacom’s exposure through its extensive rugby sponsorship investments but to deepen the experience and tangible value proposition for the rugby supporter and greater audience.

“We wanted a campaign that would allow us to own the emotional connection that South African rugby supporters have with the game,” he said. “We wanted them to know that Vodacom is core to the experience of the game, that it not only connects people with people, but connects people to rugby.”

Draftfcb Johannesburg Executive Creative Director, Grant Jacobsen, explained how this was achieved. “There are always 22 players on a rugby team – typically eight forwards, seven backs and seven impact, or bench, players. Together, they form the Match 22. With this campaign, Vodacom introduces a new position to South African rugby teams. From now on, there will be a 23rd player on each team: Jan, Player 23.

 “Jan is the ultimate Player 23. He is the guy who lives for the game, who eats sleeps and dreams the game, the supporter who has worked hard and who has earned the number 23 on his back. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a bit of Jan in everyone who truly loves the game. Jan symbolises that part of us, the part which is not ashamed to shout at the top of our lungs: ‘Prooooovince’ or ‘Nou die Blou’ or ‘Bokke’. ‘Jan’ is that part of us that totally loses its cool when Habana crosses the tryline, or when Schalkie flattens McCaw. Jan is the spirit of the truly dedicated South African rugby supporters.”

Player 23 went live on Friday February 13, and will be dominating all major media channels for the upcoming season.


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