About 2 percent of people living in the U.K. identify as LGBTQ--that's one out of every 50. But of the more than 500 players on the 20 soccer teams in the English Premier League, not one is openly LGBTQ.
Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker, is trying to change that, with a campaign created by Officer & Gentleman, the Spanish shop best known for its work with adult streaming site Pornhub. At Brighton Pride last weekend, the U.K.'s largest LGBTQ event, a bus specifically reserved for gay footballers joined the parade, decked out with slogans like "Come out and play."
Of course, the bus was empty, and remained empty for the entire parade, but any players who are in the closet now know they'll be welcomed by many fans if they come out. The campaign also included print ads in major U.K. newspapers, digital billboards, posters and a festival activation.
Paddy Power has long operated at the intersection of U.K. football and LGBTQ rights. An in-house campaign during this year's World Cup donated Â£10,000 to a foundation created by LGBTQ lifestyle magazine "Attitude" for every goal scored in the tournament by the Russian team, as a protest against Russia's homophobic policies. Total donation: Â£170,000, about $220,000.
O&G actually began working on the parade stunt in February, long before the World Cup campaign. It was built as an extension of Paddy Power's 2014 "Rainbow Laces" campaign, which sent multicolored shoelaces to every player in the league so they could show their support for LGBTQ rights.
This year's parade was O&G's first work for Paddy Power. Though the body of the agency's work has been for Pornhub (remember the Wankband and the TrickPics app?), it's recently expanded its client roster to include Sony Music, dating app Pure, the city of Madrid, Miami-based skate brand Andrew and Canadian nonprofit Autism BC.