The ‘Serious play’ campaign, created by JWT London (main creative hub for HSBC's global headquarters, also in London), aims to encapsulate the high levels of energy associated with the Rugby Sevens tournament, taking place from 23 to 25 March in Hong Kong.
A 90-second commercial takes inspiration from real-life spectators for the event, many of whom wear elaborate costumes. In the spot, numerous cosplayers dressed as cowboys, centurions, elves, kungfu masters, and green army men engage in a high-tempo rugby chase through the streets of Hong Kong.
Locations include the Avenue Of The Stars in Kowloon, the HSBC Building in Tai Hang, wet markets on Gage Street and Lyndhurst Terrace, Chater Gardens, Legislative Gardens, Kai Lung Wan and the Hong Kong Stadium where the tournament is held.
Actual players from local clubs in the HK Rugby League perform the one-arm carry in the ad while sprinting among busy Hong Kongers, while local and Australian stuntmen perform parkour moves. Former British Lions player Jason Robinson and ex-Wallabies captain George Gregan make cameo appearances as bemused observers of the action.
The commercial will be broadcast on stadium screens during the three-day tournament, with the campaign's build-up phase since 19 March executed online on HSBC’s global YouTube channel and Facebook page. The campaign is integrated with print and out-of-home media (including trams and HSBC branches) complementing the commercial.
Axel Chaldecott, global creative director of Team HSBC at JWT, admitted past work featuring fancy dress has been done, but felt "no one had yet reconciled the two themes of 'serious' rugby and a 'playful' audience". On that point, he revealed that a rugby expert was consulted to make sure the play looked authentic.
24 international teams are set to take part in this year's Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament. Chaldecott told Campaign Asia-Pacific that Cathay's past rugby sponsorship communications have "set a high bar". For its part, the airline is rerunning its old 'Game On' TVC from last year.
Project name Serious Play
Creative agency JWT London
Global Creative Directors on HSBC Axel Chaldecott and Daniel Hennessy
Art Director Miles Bingham / Kevin Masters
Copy Writer Kevin Masters / Miles Bingham
Agency Producer Romila Sanassy
Agency Planner Orlando Hooper-Greenhill
Account Director Tanya Hamilton-Smith
Account Manager Rollo Gwyn-Jones
Media agency Mindshare
Director Paul Middleditch
Production Company Annex / Plaza Films
Editor Andy Packer (Annex Films, London), Peter Whitmore (The Editors, Sydney)
Sound Sam Ashwell (750MPH)
Music ‘Lonely Boy’ - The Black Keys