2018 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

British & Irish Lions New Zealand Tour 2017 [DRAFT]


Project Overview

Every four years an icon in rugby happens. The next generation of British and Irish Lions embark on the monumental international tour which sparks excitement, rivalry and conversations amongst players and fans between the host country and Great Britain.

In 2017, APD partnered with The Lions to create a world-class mobile experience that would engage and connect with thousands of fans globally.

The hugely successful app encapsulated users with a compelling, engaging and interactive experience as demonstrated by the outstanding results:
- 218k app downloads, reaching number 2 in the App Store across all categories
- 1.6 million social followers
- 63 million videos consumed during the two-week tour
- 130,000 fantasy games played

Project Commissioner

The British Lions

Project Creator



1. Dan Li (Project Manager)
2. Kenneth Erickson (Design Lead)
3. Henrik Pagh (Visual Design)
4. Thomas D’Agostino (Tech Lead)
5. Roy Añonuevo (Tech Lead)
6. Joel Wang (Front End)
7. Ma Rena Joy (Test Lead)
8. Mal Sheahan (Client Manager)
9. Simon Brosolo (Sales)

Project Brief

Given the status of the tour, The Lions wanted to create a world-class experience that would engage fans throughout each stage of the tour like never before. The goal was to make it an unforgettable experience that would see an increase in engagement and downloads compared to the 2013 Lions Tour, whilst also being recognised as the number one place to go to for content ahead of any competitor online sports platform.

We understood that The Lions had over 25,000 loyal fans joining them on the tour in New Zealand and that we needed to connect the thousands of supporters from all over the world to the experience, whether they were supporting from the stadium or at home. To truly connect fans anywhere, anytime, a mobile experience was chosen.

The challenge was to create a mobile experience that put the excitement, tension, passion and competition into a fan's pocket. An experience that could be enjoyed by the most die-hard fan, delivering real-time stats, player profiles and insider content; whilst not overwhelming casual supporters.

Project Need

To truly connect fans anywhere, anytime, a mobile experience was chosen. It was designed based on two key insights:

- Despite having all types of fans, with varying levels of knowledge, they all expect the app to hold relevant, relatable, interesting news and content.
- The community of fans is as important as the team, to create community, a single platform for conversation and interaction was needed, connecting shared passion.

The mobile platform was a clear choice because it serves fans whether they’re at home or travelling. It stays with them throughout their day and can instantly deliver relevant, real-time stats, exclusive access to players and behind-the-scenes information. The app connects fans with equally passionate fans across the world and celebrates their knowledge and acumen when it comes to the game.

Timing was another challenge with the app launching six months ahead of the first match in which reach and hype needed to be built for the team and sponsors. A meticulously planned strategy was put in place to build up and create engagement with the tour, months before the team were even announced. Then once the tour had begun, the objective was to capture the hearts of the fans and take them on the journey, finally resulting in providing an archive of tour stats, news and match information allowing fans to relive the memorable moments.

User Experience

APD connected advanced sporting data feeds with groundbreaking design and UX to create a compelling solution deserving of fans loyalty. Keeping the app fresh and relevant, continuously fuelling audience interest and excitement with a 5-Star release cycle:

1. Six months before the tour, content included high-value news, images and a list of all players, as well as travel information for those going to New Zealand.

2. Tour information, player biographies and a squad selector ‘My Lions’ where fans could pick their own 40 man squad to be shared across social channels.

3. A custom-built Fantasy Rugby game allowed fans to pick their own team and challenge industry experts as well as friends in simulated matches. A public leaderboard was introduced to gamify the experience and build community and interaction.

4. A ‘Coaches’ Box’ was released feeding real-time in-match data to user’s phones as second screen experience. Fans could analyse players and vote for their Man of the Match which was shared across Lions’ social channels at the end of each game.

5. Post-tour gamification and engagement were removed. Becoming a read-only archive for content, news and stats, allowing fans to relive all the greatest moments of the 2017 tour.

From a technical perspective, APD smoothly integrated multiple third-party real-time data sources into our app. This simple customer interface, powered by complex data sets from multiple third-party feeds, created a world-class ‘match day’ sporting experience.

Project Marketing

We worked closely with Digital Technology partner and key sponsor Ernst & Young to develop a marketing campaign that leveraged multiple social and traditional media channels. The overall directive of the campaign was to create a sense of shared purpose and the feeling of ‘being there’ for Lions fans across the world, whilst positioning the Official British & Irish Lions app as the main touchpoint for fan engagement.

The app connected fans located all over NZ, AU and GB to a common purpose, encapsulating the loyalty and passion of supporters by connecting them to a global community. This community consisted of 784K Facebook followers, 418K Twitter followers and 220k Instagram followers.

The campaign also focused on the gameplay aspect of the application, playing off one of the most common talking points in the lead up to the tour – who fans would choose for the tour – inviting fans to build their own fantasy squads and playing them against industry experts.

This engagement resulted in 20,000 registered players, a total of 130,000 fantasy games played, as well as over 1,900 custom fantasy leagues created. League Leaderboards were syndicated across all social channels and shared a total of 2.2m times during the 2 weeks prior to the tour.

The application reached number two in the App Store across all categories and downloads increased significantly on the 2013 tour app, with 20% more users downloading the app – a total 218,000 times.

Project Privacy

The mobile app utilised social sign-in for Facebook and Google + users, which were implemented to their development standards with regards to user privacy. It also hosted an alternative, dedicated account registration with the British & Irish Lions that was integrated with their EDM database. The app registration user-flow clearly presented the user with the British & Irish Lions privacy policy information prior to registration submission. Users were also anonymised within shared League leader-boards.

This category recognises campaigns that use elements such as competitions, promotions, games and messaging to engage customers via mobile applications.
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