CSR/Sport - Footy rivals unite to end street violence

Campaign: Street Violence Ruins Lives

Street violence: football campaign
Street violence: football campaign

Client: Charlton Athletic Community Trust
PR team: Eulogy
Timescale: December 2009
Budget: Pro bono

Charlton Athletic Community Trust is the community arm of Charlton Athletic FC. The trust uses football as a tool to help drive social change.

Following relegation, Charlton Athletic FC were scheduled to play close neighbours and arch-rivals Millwall FC on 19 December. Given the close proximity of the two clubs and the controversial reputation of Millwall fans, the match was earmarked by police and clubs as a tense affair.

Charlton have a close relationship with the Knox family, who lost their son Robert to street violence, and Millwall have a close relationship with the Mizen family, who lost their son Jimmy to street violence.

OBJECTIVES

- To put together a hard-hitting campaign to defuse tension around the game

- To highlight the dangers of street violence

- To promote the work of the trust

- To generate interest by offering a human angle.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

To make a powerful statement about the issue of street violence, both clubs removed the logos from the front of their shirts for the match. They were replaced with a specially designed 'Street Violence Ruins Lives' logo.

Both football clubs dedicated the match to the memories of Robert Knox and Jimmy Mizen, two young supporters of the respective clubs, murdered in street violence incidents during 2008. The families went on to the pitch pre-match and took in the applause and respect of the two sets of fans while wearing the shirts of their teams with the names of their late sons on the back.

Seeing two families wearing the two different shirts and taking to the pitch together helped to create a unique atmosphere at what could have been a tense situation.

Features were placed with The Sun and the Daily Mirror to announce the initiative. These features appeared simultaneously following confirmation from The Sun that it would 'put down newspaper rivalries to ensure that the initiative got the placement it deserved'. The Daily Mirror confirmed the same.

Following the successful publication of the features, Eulogy issued a press release to announce the initiative.

On the day of the game itself, Eulogy arranged for the two families to participate in a series of broadcast interviews.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

In total the campaign generated 44 pieces of coverage, including eight national print items, 12 broadcast items and 24 online stories.

RESULTS

According to stats from the Metropolitan Police, 'gun-enabled' crime in Greenwich fell from 14 incidents in December 2008 to three in December 2009.

'Violence against the person' also decreased in the borough from 560 incidents in December 2008 to 482 in December 2009.

 

SECOND OPINION - Leigh Daynes, Director of communications, advocacy and campaigns, Plan International

At its best, football unites. That two local rivals - on Fleet Street and on the pitch - could wear their hearts on their shirts to make a common cause against street violence was compelling.

Eulogy's approach stands out for its creative treatment. Placing features with The Sun and Daily Mirror served the campaign well, as did including families affected by street violence.

But perhaps more could have been done to give the campaign life beyond the photo call, especially by engaging audiences online through a digital debate.

Branding the campaign with a special logo worked because the marque was emblematic, speaking of the power of the game to bridge divides and of young players taking a stand together in a simple act of defiance at the senseless murder of young people on our streets.

Heroes matter, especially in the beautiful game.

Can the campaign claim success in reducing violent crime? The statistics suggest so.

Few of us can imagine the horror of losing a child to murder. All respect goes to the Knox and Mizen families, whose brave participation gave the campaign a human face and a call to action.

But it shouldn't rest there.

The Sunday Mirror columnist Michael Calvin suggested the FA run a national anti-violence campaign during the World Cup.

Surely there's no better chance to bring this life-saving campaign to the world's attention?

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