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Bjo?rn Borg disrupts World Cup with blockchain and AR LGBTQ experiences

Bjo?rn Borg AR experience at the World Cup 2018

Swedish underwear label Bjo?rn Borg is taking a stand on LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality, with two digital initiatives that coincide with the start of the World Cup 2018 in Russia.

During the first match of the football championship, Russia versus Saudi Arabia, brand fans were encouraged to place an augmented reality “tifo” – the word for large organised visuals displayed by football crowds – via an online platform. Upon visiting the platform, users could place a visual of a gay couple kissing above the crowd, either on their desktop, or pointing their phones towards a TV playing the match. In the illustration, the couple is sporting painted stripes that represent each country’s flags, with a strapline that reads, “Love Will Win Tonight.”

Users can then share the visuals on social media, while the brand has developed web ads with similar messaging. The launch during the first match is particularly symbolic as in Russia, promoting homosexuality is considered propaganda, while in Saudi Arabia being gay is considered a crime that can be punished by death.

Although the AR experience will only be available throughout the football championship, it lives under a larger digital platform where the brand is further cementing its stance through the use of blockchain technology. Marriage Unblocked allows any user to propose, exchange vows and get married digitally by storing their information on a blockchain ledger, which can either be made public or remain anonymous. Users who participate, many of which are from countries where gay marriage is not legal, get a certificate for their digital marriage. Although not legal, the symbolic feature creates an emotional experience that allows those who have been denied the right to marriage to express their love for one another.

Bjo?rn Borg has long used the conversation around love to promote a more inclusive society, as well as tying the topic to their brand messaging in general. In 2011, a TV spot featured a traditional wedding ceremony with a twist; and 2015, it launched an online game where weapons included holographic kisses and heart-shaped soap bubbles, showcasing that love conquers all. The brand, much like cross-industry counterparts like Lush, has long understood that taking a stand on a major topic that matters to them is a pivotal strategy when engaging with younger customers who wear their values on their sleeves.