Cannes Lions

True Fan Test


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Singtel is the largest telco in Singapore, providing mobile network, broadband and payTV services. With payTV on a decline all over the world, live sports is one of the few genres that continue to drive payTV subscribers. So when the English Premier League came along, it was an exciting business opportunity for Singtel.

Trouble is, in an attempt to regulate payTV competition, laws in Singapore mandate that Singtel cannot be the exclusive payTV retailer for the Premier League. This means that Singtel’s main competitor, Starhub, will also offer the same coverage at the same price.

So, during the 2019/20 EPL season, how was Singtel going to grow its business in a contracting market with no product differentiation?

Only true EPL fans would pay to watch it, so we needed to reach and engage this community by proving to them that Singtel is a football expert, just like them.


In Singapore, true EPL fans are not from the same cities as the teams they support. But they take huge pride in their knowledge of the matches, players, coaches and clubs. These are the topics of heated debates in the club’s forums and social media groups.

So we challenged their knowledge with a test in disguise, and did something that all advertisers do their best to avoid. We deliberately made mistakes in our ads.

We launched a film that seemed like a typical football highlights reel, but had planted 5 mistakes that only those obsessed with the game would spot.

As expected, true fans were up in arms on social media, discussing these outrageous mistakes, and calling out Singtel.

Within 48 hours, we revealed the truth with a film, and rewarded the first true fan who pointed them all out with a trip to watch the EPL live.


Naturally, those prepared to pay for EPL would be the true fans, with deep passion for their home country teams. But no one in Singapore is from Liverpool or Manchester.

So this posed a difficult question: What makes a ‘true fan’ in Singapore?

Through interviews and scanning message boards on groups and forums to study their social behaviour, we found another answer: “expertise”.

The most dedicated Singaporean fans have deep knowledge about the games, players, coaches and history. This makes them a true EPL fan, despite having no connection to clubs’ home cities, and gives them status among their peers.

The place this expertise thrives is online, where fans swap facts, and argue with each other to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge.

If Singtel could speak to fans as experts with detailed EPL knowledge, it would make Singtel the natural choice of true fans.


Before each season, broadcasters make “highlight” films of the previous season to build anticipation.

Using past EPL footage, we created a typical-looking ad, but with 5 hidden mistakes. The ad ended with the tagline, “Only true fans get it”.

What looked like a typical recap, got true fans riled up at Singtel.

We distributed the film in private groups of the top EPL teams, and by partnering with influencers and SGAG (Singapore’s 9GAG).

Fans voice their rage on Singtel’s social media channels, so we set up a social media war room, and during the next 48 hours we replied to them directly with cheeky GIFs, hinting at what was going on.

Finally, we re-released the film, with annotations correcting our mistakes and crowning a winner: The first fan who correctly identified all mistakes. This fan was rewarded with a trip to watch the EPL live.


+660% of Singtel on-demand ‘Sports Plus” pack sales compared to last year.

TV sports pack sign-ups remained stable YOY, in a category declining by 8%.

The launch ‘mistake’ film garnered 1million views in 2 days, in a country of 5 million.

4x more branded searches for ‘Singtel Premier League’ compared to previous year.

76% of non-Singtel TV users said they will consider switching to Singtel TV.

Engagement on media partnerships also exceeded industry benchmarks by 2x on SGAG (Singapore’s 9GAG).

Best performing social campaign for Singtel ever.

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