BT is rolling out a multimillion-pound campaign fronted by a team of 20 female and male footballers, who will speak about and help combat online hate in the lead-up to the Uefa European Championships next month.
Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, "Hope United" launches today (24 May) and will span TV, out of home, social media and press advertising.
Players onboard include Marcus Rashford, Gareth Bale, Lucy Bronze, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Ethan Ampadu, Rebecca Sellar and Demi Stokes. The 20-strong squad will be managed by Rio Ferdinand and Karen Carney.
A 90-second film featuring all the squad members will premiere on BT Sport during the Uefa Europa League Final on Wednesday 26 May. It depicts the huge, negative impact of online hate. The film was directed by Matilda Finn of Stink Films.
The player-participants talk about their experiences of being on the receiving end of online abuse, appearing in BT "Tech tips" content - a free resource to educate people how to avoid and deal with online hate. Advice spans recognising hate crime, how to behave online, supporting kids online and being a "good team player" on the internet.
BT, which sponsors the Home Nations' football associations, will utilise its social, digital and broadcast channels to carry the work, including editorial coverage on BT Sport.
Saatchi & Saatchi has worked with design studio Nomad to create the Hope United kit, while Digitas has developed the team's website and Publicis Poke has worked on retail display and activation. The campaign also features a partnership with Mirror and Daily Star owner Reach, which will support the drive across its print and digital titles.
The Hope United branding will appear at match days during the warm-up friendlies leading up to the tournament, as well on out-of-home media at sites across the UK, including Trafalgar Square in London.
Media buying was by Essence, PR by Pitch Marketing Group and sponsorship by Cake. The campaign was written by Katy Stanage, Alex Kosterman and Jake Wiseman; and art directed by Fabiano Gomes and James Ginn.
BT recently commissioned research that found one in 10 people have been victim to online abuse in the past year.
A version of this article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign