BT enlists star footballers for 'Hope United' campaign
A team managed by Rio Ferdinand has been drafted in by Saatchi & Saatchi to stamp out online hate
24 May 2021
BT has launched Hope United, a diverse team of footballers who have come together from across the Home Nations to tackle online hate ahead of the UEFA European Championships, in a campaign created by Saatchi & Saatchi.
The campaign follows research commissioned by BT that revealed that one in 10 people have received online abuse in the past year. The Hope United team is comprised of male and female players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, drawn together by their own experiences of online hate.
Hope United is designed to drive support for change and educate the nation on how to protect themselves and be good digital citizens. Saatchi was responsible for developing the brand identity for the team, along with the creative aspects of the campaign including social media content, TV, OOH and press. The Hope United squad will all be supporting across social media throughout the campaign.
A 90” film will premiere on BT Sport, during the UEFA Europa League Final on Wednesday 26 May, featuring members of the all-star Digitas worked on the development of the Hope United website and Publicis•Poke on retail display and activation. Media buying has been led by Essence
Running from Monday 24th May and throughout the UEFA European Championships, the campaign will activate across BT and BT Sport’s social, digital and broadcast channels, with editorial content being broadcast across BT Sport, helping to spotlight the issue of online hate.
Utilising BT’s sponsorship of the four Home Nations football associations, the Hope United branding will be visible on matchday during the warm-up friendly matches ahead of the Euros, as well as across the UK through bespoke out-of-home sites, including at Trafalgar Square.
Managed by Rio Ferdinand and Karen Carney, Hope United’s squad of footballers, drawing on their own experience of online hate, will feature in BT Tech Tips content, free resources helping to give people the digital skills they need to tackle hate online at a time where the issue is at the forefront of the sporting world.
Pete Jeavons, marketing communications director, BT said: “With the European Championships on the horizon, all eyes will once again be on the footballing world and with the inevitable online hate that comes with this BT is taking action.
“Our mission is to connect for good and Hope United will galvanise the nation to make a stand against social media hate, providing people with the necessary tools not only to understand the devastating effects of online hate, but also to show them how to be part of the solution. It’s part of our commitment to help 25 million people to make the most of life in the digital world through our Skills for Tomorrow programme.
“That is why this summer, and as sponsor of the Home Nations, we are asking the country to make Hope United their second team. If everyone stands together, unified through both words and action, hope will emerge victorious over hate.”
Rio Ferdinand, manager of Hope United, commented, “My work, both on and off the pitch, has taught me that there is no hiding place from social media abuse.
“Passions run high during big football tournaments and having seen the devastating effect that can result from online hate first-hand, it is more important than ever that sport unites to combat it.
“I am delighted to have been appointed the manager of Hope United. I’m proud to head up a team of players from across the Home Nations who want to work together in a bid to rase awareness of online hate and encourage people to spread positivity and hope ahead of the Euros this summer.”
Guillermo Vega, CCO, Saatchi & Saatchi, added: "This is a unique campaign in how it’s come together, in connecting the most powerful names in the game, Bale, Rashford, Bronze among others, and uniting them in a powerful action around tackling online hate. Everything about this has been collaborative and integrated from the start, with BT, with the players, with the partners we worked with, covering the development of the idea, the identity, the kit, TV, comms, influencer outreach, social media. Bringing all of those elements and people together to unite in one powerful message during one of the biggest moments in the football calendar, is significant. The influence and power this team, and this campaign, can have to drive positive change in the game and beyond, is huge.". The film shows a powerful depiction of the shattering impact receiving online hate has.