Cadbury realised the dreams of 11 life-long Manchester United fans and Age UK beneficiaries today (Sunday), inviting them on to the Old Trafford pitch as guests of honour ahead of the team’s match against Watford.
Created by VCCP, "Donate your words x Manchester United" sees the Manchester locals – aged between 61 and 87 – step on to the grass in front of 75,000 supporters. Each of the 11 fans, who have been helped by the charity in the past, got to shake hands with Manchester United’s team members. The stunt aims to highlight the loneliness faced by many older people.
VCCP has created supportive marketing material around today's on-pitch event, including social media posts, with videos appearing on Facebook, with further assets to be released during the week.
Manchester United agreed to back Cadbury’s ongoing "Donate your words" campaign, which is run in conjunction with Age UK. The club is encouraging all of its fans to "donate their words" and speak to older people they encounter in their everyday lives. Its partnership with Cadbury will result in future campaigns.
"Donate your words" is built on research that found, in a typical week, nearly 2.6 million people aged 65 or over speak to just three people (or fewer) they know, while 225,000 often go a week without speaking to anyone.
Darren Bailes, VCCP’s executive creative director, said: "There's a loneliness crisis in the UK – 1.4 million older people struggle with it; 225,000 often go a whole week without speaking to anyone. We have already done so much to raise the issue and change behaviours and attitudes towards loneliness. We hope this partnership with Manchester United will help raise awareness for Cadbury's 'Donate your words' campaign and get more people engaging with Age UK."
Colin O’Toole, Cadbury’s associate marketing director, added: "Loneliness is such a huge problem among the older generation, and we are encouraging Manchester United fans and the nation at large to engage with this cause by donating their words at every opportunity to lonely older people in their communities. We are also excited to be working with Manchester United in the future on further collaborations."
The work was written by Peter Reid and art directed by Rob Ellis. Media was by Carat, while MKTG negotiated the deal and Golin is working on the PR aspect of the campaign.
Golin said it has been "heavily involved" in planning and execution of the day in partnership with Age UK, adding: "We worked across the media strategy and sell-in and we’ve secured the broadcast and media coverage".
Each of the honourees has lived through a rollercoaster of fortunes for Manchester United. In 1968, the team became the first English club to win the European Cup, but that season was also the first of 25 without a league championship.
The dry spell was finally broken in 1993, the first Premier League season, under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson, who went on to win 13 titles in 21 years. But since the Scot's departure in 2013, Manchester United have so far been unable to find that kind of form, and this season they look certain to watch arch-rival Liverpool end their 30-year wait for the league title.
This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign