The Not So Beautiful Game

By J. Walter Thompson - London


Highly Commended in category Sports
& Sponsorship

In subcategory Campaign

Project Description
Every 4 years the World Cup ignites football fever. But there’s an ugly side to the beautiful game: domestic violence spikes during the tournament. In the UK alone, reported incidents increase 26% when England play, 38% when England lose. Similar statistics play out across the world.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence save lives by providing free legal help such as emergency injunctions. It was vital we communicated this service at a time when victims were proven to be in most danger.
So, we hijacked football culture: subverting the behaviour of fans adorning their bodies with their teams’ national flag by reimagining these flags in the form of realistic wounds and bruises across victims’ flesh. In doing so we purposefully increased the visceral reaction to an already-emotive symbol, interrupting football chatter and provoking much-needed conversations around domestic violence and how to seek life-saving help.
Headlines were tailored, with one message reigning: “If England* get beaten, so will she.”
*Country changed to reflect flag visual.
Agency Solution
We uncovered a powerful insight: reports of domestic violence spike during the World Cup. In the UK reported incidents increase 26% when England play, 38% when they lose. Similar statistics play out across the world
The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides emergency legal injunctions for victims and with incidents set to surge it was vital we connected people with life-saving help.
But we faced a colossal challenge: no-one was aware of the issue and every other brand wanted to leverage the World Cup. We simply couldn’t compete in terms of budget.
By hijacking the fiercely patriotic language of fan-culture we created impact and forced the public to rethink what the World Cup means for domestic abuse victims.
Being reactive to results, and tailoring executions to coincide with emotionally-charged ‘knock out’ matches, enabled us to position the NCDV as a key source for help when victims are proven to be most vulnerable.
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