by Sabrina Forbes. For one day only last month, SuperSport held a popup gallery on the eighth floor of the Capital Hill building in Benmore, Sandton, where media — including MarkLives — and rugby fans attended the sports broadcaster’s official 2019 Rugby World Cup launch. We also chatted to digital sports marketing agency, Retroactive, about the campaign.

Striking artworks

In the middle of the rooftop venue, displayed on white walls, were 15 striking artworks created by five young South African artists with an appropriately clear underlying Japanese theme (Japan is the host this year).

SuperSport Gallery of ChampionsSome of the original framed A1 prints really stood out.

There was a dark, almost moody one featuring Eben Etzebeth. Then there was one where Francois “Faf” de Klerk’s golden hair looked so real, you could almost touch it. It goes without saying that the print of our Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, showed him standing firm, arms at his side, fists held tight, staring right ahead. Then I spotted Handre Pollard wearing what looks like a skull of a Springbok, preparing to take a shot on goal. My favourite is an image of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira that looks as if he’s running through a group of All Blacks, grasping the ball and face-planting one of them with his massive hand. My only question, though, is where’s Willie le Roux? I’d be happy to have a poster of him on my wall.


The evening kicked off with MC, Xola Ntshinga, welcoming everyone and introducing the panel which included John Smit, Odwa Ndungane, and Butch James. They spoke about their experiences as Springboks and what their hopes were for our boys this year.

“Picking the top five or six is pretty easy,” said James. “New Zealand by their last game, they’re right up there. Wales will also be competing and, of course, England and Ireland. I wouldn’t write off Australia just yet and then, of course, I love our chances. I think we’ve got a brilliant pack of forwards and our scrums and lineouts are strong. It’s hard to get defense to gel and to do a rushed defense; we saw that with England, the guys not trusting each other. It didn’t work for a number of games but they stuck to it and I think they’re reaping the rewards now.”

According to Odwa, South Africa had the momentum going into the world cup and the squad to do it, while Smit said that, if he could script it, he’d like to lose marginally to New Zealand in their first game, meeting Wales in the semi-final and then again meet New Zealand in the final.


MarkLives spent some time chatting to three of the five artists.

Seyabonga Vincent “Vindollar” Lebeko, who created the artworks of Kolisi, De Klerk and Elton Jantjies, says he’s happiest because this project has made his parents very proud of him, and being involved in a first for South Africa is something that makes him feel very privileged. He explained that his three designs all aim to show what’s quintessential about rugby for him, and that’s shorts and strong arms. He spent a lot of time looking at pics of each of the three to decide on a pose that would immediately show they are rugby players.

Corne Nel’s designs of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith, and Steven Kitshoff are reminiscent of Japenese samurais. He told MarkLives that he immediately thought of samurais when tasked with incorporating Japanese elements into his designs and worked hard to combine them with the ‘bok’ element. The toughest part was drawing the lips of each player because he felt at that point he was having a very intimate moment with each of them.

Joel “Cyzo” Matladi is the only designer to incorporate elements of the crowd into his artworks, saying that he looked at Etzebeth, Damian de Allende, and Cheslin Kolbe plus rugby supporters to understand everything that lies behind the passion of this sport. His darker, moodier theme was chosen because he believes all his three players are “badasses” and he wanted to show them that way.

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Client: SuperSport
Ad agency: Retroactive
Title: #GalleryOfChampions

Information supplied by Retroactive.


We were tasked with executing a PR launch for SuperSport to communicate its RWC19 coverage — the most-comprehensive package for a Rugby World Cup.

Creative summary

We considered the aspects that make Japan unique — elements such as karaoke, sushi, bullet trains all spring to mind — but there is a synergistic link between superheroes and a Japanese export: anime and manga artistry.

#GalleryOfChampions saw the commissioning of five SA up-and-coming artists who each completed three illustrations of SA rugby players. These illustrations were exhibited for one night only in Johannesburg.

We reached out via a tweet, asking if there were young SA illustrators who have a notable Japanese influence in their work, and were pleasantly surprised to uncover five extremely talented individuals:

  • Seyabonga Vincent “VinDollar” Lebeko (@VinDollar016) is a 21-year-old artist, based in Vereeniging, Gauteng. He has developed an immensely impressive talent for portrait illustrations; anything his pen touches takes on a life of its own. Since matriculating in 2016, he has honed his craft as an illustrator. He is highly ambitious and wants to study a BA Fine Arts at university, and live out his dream of becoming an animator or game designer.
  • Andre Human (IG: @Dreviator) is a professional concept artist and illustrator. He works for both the local and international film and TV commercial industries. Never without a pen, pencil or improvised drawing implement, he shares his non-commercial work on his social media accounts, including sketches. He loves to document his process to provide his audience with an insight into his workflow.
  • Born and raised in Boksburg, Corné Nel (@neverforfame) started his brand Never For Fame and has seen impressive growth in the five years since inception. He has a darker perception of what’s beautiful: street art and tattoo designs are the main inspiration behind each piece of his art. Possessing a more-aggressive visual appeal, Never For Fame strives for a balance between elegant and alternative aesthetics.
  • Joel “Cyzo” Matladi (@Cyzo22) is proudly African, specialising in animation and digital art. His work draws inspiration from the African visual identity and heritage, along with influences from anime and comics, to create engaging and emotive work that reimagines and revolutionises the African narrative.
  • Tyler Jade is a young South African designer working in the commercial design and advertising field. He doesn’t limit himself to any art form but is wildly explorative and delves into the worlds of sculpture, art, fashion and product design. His inspiration comes from various sources, both in urban and natural landscapes, and the contrast between what is considered beautiful or ugly. [Full disclosure: Jade works for Retroviral, a sister agency of Retroactive.]

The A1 originals from the popup gallery were then auctioned via Facebook, where the pieces collectively fetched more than R43 000 for SuperSport’s CSI — Let’s Play.


We leveraged the prints to drive PR, used the SuperSport Blitz channel, and produced our own in-house video content to communicate the story. Hosting influential media and key influencers at an atypical launch allowed us to generate social buzz for this launch and resulted in coverage for SuperSport in an array of lifestyle publications — most notably, the front page of the Sunday Times.


One-night-only gallery execution and five-day social media auction, Monday 9 September to Friday 13 September 2019.


Uber Exposure for event management and venue, Retroactive for strategy and production of content.





Executive creative director: Mike Sharman
Creative director: Ben Karpinski
Art director: Duncan Blackhurst
Project manager: Zelda Arnott
Account manager: Greg Tinkler
Account executive: Stirling Levesley


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