After the flood The Rugby Formula

The Rugby Formula

Data-journalism for the Rugby World Cup

In Brief

Client & AIG

Our Solution

We created a high quality experience that spoke to the mass market


High engagement ahead of the World Cup and social activation

We worked with and AIG to create unique and insightful content ahead of the Rugby World Cup. This was the first time that have ventured into making branded content and they needed the quality to be very high.

Branded Content

The key to getting data-backed, branded content right is to locate the intersection of the sponsor’s business and the subject at hand in a way that is mutually reinforicing. This sounds obvious, but there are three main stages:

  • Agreeing the brand story from the overall brand positioning.
  • Distilling a content story that is relevant to the brand story.
  • Crucially, when working on stories about and powered by data, finding robust data to back up the content story.

Brand Messaging and the Content Story

AIG were very sure about what they wanted to say with this piece. They were also, crucially, clear about what wasn’t necessary relative to their brand positioning, which helped us keep to a tight schedule while still delivering interesting data-journalism and visualisations. We worked closely with and AIG to focus on a single part of the brand story that best lent itself to the context of the Rugby World Cup.

Once we had a sense of the brand story elements, we converted them into journalistic ideas that were relevant to rugby, and specifically the Rugby World Cup. 

While developing the content we kept the process visible in shared documents, so that and AIG could see what our editorial decisions were based on. We find it to be incredibly useful to create shared artefacts that can be used by all parties to articulate the process so that anyone involved in the organizations can readily see what is happening and why. 

Stories Based on Rigorous Data-Journalism

Once we had determined the overall story direction, we needed to make sure there was data to back up our story ideas. We worked with specialists at Opta to mine their data for the insights that would bring the story to life.

The key skill we brought to this project was the ability to hypothesize interesting, original stories, and then execute these through the stages of research, design, and development.

Sketching the Stories

Visual journalism only works if the visual plane supports the content and leads the story. After agreeing the data, we were able to do quick sketches of the story ideas, working to shared documents that everyone could use so that the client could quickly see where the work was going and sign off for next steps.

Original Insights with Clear Visualisations

Once we had agreed the content and data, we stared design. We wanted the story to consist of several chapters with a good mix of impactful ideas and depth of insight. We decided early on that this was for a broad audience and so we should not push heavy tables of data on people. Instead, we developed the animated insights tool for the more data-rich parts that guides people through the insights.

The trend for simple interaction is borne out across the rest of the piece – rather than expecting people to click on everything, it is easy to scroll and use. This is different from many interactive graphics of maybe ten years ago that expected people to ‘explore’ – often people just cannot be bothered and we need to get the messages to them quickly.

This need for extra-easy interaction is further borne out from people looking at more content on phones and cut and pasted into social feed – both repay impactful, low friction imparting of ideas.

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