Summer vibes, immersive experiences and a new brand id for HSBC SVNS recharges rugby appeal

Forget Ibiza, The Caribbean, or the Canary Islands - the hottest destination this year is the HSBC SVNS.

HSBC SVNS, World Rugby’s reimagined and rebranded global celebration of rugby sevens across eight iconic cities has been launched as not just a rugby tournament, but as a festival and a must-attend experience set in some of the world’s most exciting locations.

With a bold ambition to supercharge rugby’s global reach and appeal by being more relevant and accessible to younger, leisure-hungry audiences, HSBC SVNS aims to deliver the ultimate in immersive experiences. It is a unique festival of sport, entertainment and culture set against stunning backdrops.

Launching in December 2023, HSBC SVNS festivals will take place in Dubai, Cape Town, Perth, Vancouver, LA, Hong Kong, Singapore and Madrid, showcasing the world’s top sevens athletes across 12 men’s and women’s teams.

At the heart of the reimagination, is a punchy new identity blending summer vibes. World Rugby has engaged with DesignStudio to create an iconic new identity and Dark Horses for a launch campaign for rugby’s Olympic sport.

A unique festival format of entertainment, culture and sport is created through three experience principals which set the vibe, bring the energy and ensure every HSBC SVNS event ends on a high.

Chasing the sun

Central to an ongoing relationship that has seen a complete restructure of World Rugby’s tournament identities, DesignStudio were appointed to rebrand the World Rugby Sevens Series with a totally new experience including strategy, name and visual identity.

The brief was to build a brand that was more ownable, that would create more equity and would better reflect the unique and unrivalled experience of rugby sevens.

The new HSBC SVNS brand proposition - Chase the sun. Live the rush - is based on the suns of the iconic destinations the Series travels to over seven unforgettable months, from sun-soaked days in Cape Town to buzz-filled nights in Dubai. By embracing the local spirit of each host city, the brand experience is authentic and distinct, no matter the location. Finally, encouraging everyone to join in the action; from trying a new sport to experiencing a new culture, HSBC SVNS becomes the conduit for experiences in and out of the stadium.

The evolution of the name to SVNS keeps the brand recognition of the tournament while adding a bold, playful energy that matches its new format.

Destination HSBCSVNS

To capture the passion, energy and of course, thrilling rugby action, Dark Horses has created ‘Destination: HSBC SVNS’, a vibrant campaign that positions the annual series as the go-to place for anyone looking to have a good time.

The campaign aims to create more awareness around the tournament and reach a diverse audience, converting those who are not typically rugby fans by positioning HSBC SVNS as the ultimate summer destination, packed with entertainment from dawn till dusk.

The film takes inspiration from classic travel guide TV shows, and stars New Zealand comedian, Barnie Duncan as the travel show presenter. It begins with a burst of bright colours through an opening title sequence, grabbing the audience's attention. Duncan then comes into view clad in a bright Hawaiian shirt and takes us on a wild journey around the world, showing us what we can expect from a weekend at HSBC SVNS. ‘From Singapore, Cape Town, to the most walkable city 2017, Vancouver’.

Through the magic of greenscreen, he immerses himself in the beautiful locations, enjoying the delicious food, experiencing the best of the nightlife, theme park rides and even gets in the throngs of the rugby games themselves. He attempts to high-five a player on the pitch, gets in the way of the New Zealand Haka, and lounges on the rugby field with a player, before dressing up as a giant shrimp.

In addition to the hero film, Dark Horses has created a range of bold social and digital, mixing some of the stars of the game with colourful graphics of burgers, rugby balls, palm trees and cocktails, all in a vibrant festival style.

James Rothwell, Chief Marketing and Content Officer at World Rugby, 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. The brand identity and campaign signifies a fresh and exciting new chapter for Rugby, as we focus on celebrating the skilful nature of the Olympic sport in spectacular locations around the globe."

Chloe Jensen, Strategy Director at DesignStudio added: “Over time, Sevens has grown organically to become not only a destination for great sport, but for entertainment, partying and culture. We wanted to bottle that spirit that’s gained it a cult following and make it more accessible to non-rugby fans around the world. This is no longer a rugby tournament but a global festival experience anyone can enjoy.”

Lorenzo Di Cola, Design Director at DesignStudio said: “The strategy sits as the foundation of our visual identity; a system based on suns with seven rays that flex to represent each host city. For example, the palm trees of LA, the desert of Dubai or the waves of Perth. They are paired with the bespoke, bold HSBC SVNS wordmark in a modular system which creates consistency across the series. This is set against a dual colour palette that contrasts the core HSBC SVNS brand in black and white against a vibrant palette that’s inspired by the colours of each location. The typeface - Mabry Mono by Colophon Foundry - is modular, monospace with angular cuts and square features to work in harmony with the wordmark.”

Steve Howell, ECD at Dark Horses, said: “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.”

CLIENT World Rugby
Head of Marketing and Content: James Rothwell
Head of Brand: Miri Keck
James Ralley, Director of Partnerships and Brand
Marketing Campaign Manager: Suzi Murray
Namrata Desai, Brand Operations Manager

AGENCY DesignStudio
Vinay Mistry, Executive Creative Director
Lorenzo Di Cola, Design Director
Chloe Jensen, Strategy Director
Emily Jones, Client Services Director
Rosh Kumar, Senior Designer
Sam Cornwall, Designer
Adam Witton, Senior Motion Designer
Julian Poidevin, Writer


AGENCY Dark Horses
ECD: Steve Howell
Creative Directors: Josh Pearce and Sean Johnson
Creatives: Eve de Haan and Josie Beaumont
Senior Editor: Steve Fowler
Senior Designer: Yuriko Ui
Designer: Jordan Dicks
Producer: Charlie Hurlock
Chief Strategy Officer: Matt Readman
Head of Account Management: Caroline McCulloch
Business Director: Alex Nixon
Senior Account Manager: James Tadros

Director: Max Barden
Producer: Annalise Yarrell and Tabetha Glass-Jackman
Editor: Julian Currin
Post House: ELMNTL
Flame: Sunil Rao
Grade: Henry Howard
Sound: Joe Marsden

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