U.K. telecom giant BT is tackling online hate ahead of the Euro 2020 soccer championships in a campaign that includes a creepy, horror-themed ad as well as an initiative rallying together a diverse "team" of professional players, "Hope United."
A cinematic film, directed by Matilda Finn of Stink films, imagines online hate as a shadowy boogeyman who creeps into every crevice of people's lives. It ends with a call to action, "Help us beat online hate," asking viewers to join Hope United. The ad ran on Tuesday night, during the UEFA Europa League Final on BT Sport.
Hope United brings together a "squad" of 20 male and female players including Marcus Rashford, Gareth Bale, Lucy Bronze, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson and Demi Stokes, managed by former England captain Rio Ferdinand together with former player Karen Carney. The team will speak out about online hate and the trolling they themselves have experienced, and they will also appear in a series of content videos giving people "tech tips" about how to protect themselves online from trolls and be better digital citizens.
“My work, both on and off the pitch, has taught me that there is no hiding place from social media abuse,” commented Rio Ferdinand in a statement. “Passions run high during big football tournaments and having seen the devastating effect that can result from online hate first-hand, it is more important than ever that sport unites to combat it.”
Saatchi & Saatchi London developed the brand identity for the team, along with the creative aspects of the campaign including social media content, TV, outdoor and press ads.
The campaign also includes films in which the squad explain their own experiences of online hate (see below). Saatchi & Saatchi also partnered with design studio Nomad to design the Hope United kit, as well as Digitas to develop the team website and Publicis Poke on retail display and activation, with PR by Pitch Marketing Group
"Everything about this has been collaborative and integrated from the start, with BT, with the players, with the partners we worked with, covering the development of the idea, the identity, the kit, TV, comms, influencer outreach, social media," said Guillermo Vega, chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi. "Bringing all of those elements and people together to unite in one powerful message during one of the biggest moments in the football calendar is significant. The influence and power this team, and this campaign, can have to drive positive change in the game and beyond, is huge."