Sport/CSR: Bigotry in football kicked into touch

Campaign: One Game, One Community

Sport/CSR: Bigotry in football kicked into touch
Sport/CSR: Bigotry in football kicked into touch

Client: Kick It Out
PR team: In-house
Timescale: October 2009
Budget: Less than £15,000

Kick It Out is football's equality and inclusion campaign, funded by the game's governing bodies, including the Professional Footballers' Association, the Premier League and the Football Association. It was set up in 1993 to tackle racism in football. This October, about 1,000 events took place nationwide at football grounds, schools, universities, youth centres, community centres and places of worship to highlight diversity and equality in football and sport in general. The weeks of action were known as One Game, One Community.

OBJECTIVES

- To generate a high-profile period of activity for equality and against discrimination

- To raise awareness of issues affecting football such as homophobia, the lack of black managers, the lack of British Asian players and the lack of women at boardroom level

- To build One Game, One Community as a standalone brand

- To engage with and energise football and non-football audiences.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

Branded T-shirts were sent to players including Chelsea and England captain John Terry, to be worn during pre-match warmups. Managers including Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez were also sent branded badges to wear during post-match interviews and a branded photoshoot with the England team was set up before the Belarus fixture at Wembley.

A magazine with a print run of 200,000 was created, featuring exclusive interviews with Premier League players who acted as ambassadors for the campaign, and media opportunities were secured for the ambassadors. These included current and ex-professional footballers, actors including The Wire's Idris Elba and musicians such as former So Solid Crew member Ashley Walters.

The PR team linked up with CSR partner Ford to include the One Game, One Community indent on all Sky Sports ad breaks. The team also arranged stadium announcements and articles about the weeks of action in match-day magazines.

A grassroots Dream Manager competition was set up, giving amateur sides a chance to be trained by an ex-professional for one session. Former players were secured from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United to fulfil the role of dream manager.

A series of Question Time-style events were held at public forums covering topics including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the issue of homophobia in football.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

The campaign secured 639 articles in print. It also appeared in Society Guardian, New Start and The Times Educational Supplement. Commentary teams at the BBC, Sky Sports and ESPN were all persuaded to reference the campaign during live matches.

RESULTS

The website kickitout.org saw a 50 per cent increase in unique users. Community group involvement increased by 20 per cent compared with the 2008/09 season. Events at more than 30 community groups were funded in October.

SECOND OPINION - Kate Bosomworth, MD, KTB PR

While the issue of equality and inclusion within football is clearly still very much on the agenda, it's not always easy keeping such long-standing campaigns fresh and interesting. This is Kick It Out's 15th year and the results of this year's campaign are testament to strong stakeholder relationships, an effective ambassador programme and good old-fashioned hard work. They have done a superb job in keeping the momentum strong and focused.

To co-ordinate somewhere in the region of 1,000 events all within a two-week period is a major achievement and I suspect a well-oiled machine has helped generate this impressive ROI.

The campaign has leveraged a host of stakeholder relationships very well, from Sky Sports, Ford, players, managers and grounds to clubs across the country.

While we can't see how the value of the media coverage has been calculated, a 50 per cent increase in site traffic is commendable on a small budget.

One issue I would raise is that while there is a lot of content, could more have been done to leverage this collateral online?

The natural build for me is to develop the campaign by engaging the football community, especially young fans, into a conversation through use of digital platforms such as Twitter. From what I can see this is currently only really being used as an information provider.

This is an emotive issue that people care a great deal about. It shouldn't take much to energise this audience, but it starts with building a dialogue.

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