Hope United

SAATCHI & SAATCHI, London / BT / 2021

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Discrimination and abuse have always been a stain on football, but social media has given racists, sexists and homophobes a new platform to spread hateful language and even send death threats.

As a digital business, our client’s ambition is to remove barriers to connectivity, building better digital lives for all. This, plus their position as a key sponsor of the Home Nations football teams, gave them the license and authority to speak out on the harrowing matter of abuse on social media.

The brief therefore was to create something beyond mere shirt sponsorship. It was to find a genuine alignment in ideals that could truly make a difference, tap into culture, and flex into any social touchpoint where we could reach fans.

The overall objective was twofold: reduce the volume of social media hate and drown out the hate remaining with a groundswell of national positivity.


We founded Hope United, online hate’s greatest opponent - a squad assembled from the best and most influential footballers from across the UK.

Our players know the problem of online hate intimately. They feel it with the slew of mentions and tags that come with every missed shot, every bad performance, and every red card.

So, as legitimate and relatable voices of authority on the subject, they would serve as our credible mouthpiece to deliver a rallying cry to the nation to stand up for hope and fight online hate. And most importantly, they would empower the public too by providing the practical knowledge and social media skills needed to make it happen.


As a stain on our society, online hate affects us all. Our goal therefore was to speak to the entire country. To do so, we constructed a momentum-building three phase approach:

Launch Hope United - rally the nation to fight online abuse, with ATL comms working in tandem with coordinated influencer support and social video to push our manifesto at large, creating the ideal conditions for our educational content.

Learn from Hope United - upskill the nation with social media skills, using our players as the nation’s relatable teachers. Inspired by microlearning trends and patterns of information sharing seen during Black Lives Matter, we would use punchy social video as well as innovative formats like polls and carousels.

Support Hope United - enable the nation to advocate the cause with a visual pledge they could share to their Twitter and Instagram profiles, seeded by our core talent and wider influencers.


With the goal of creating a countrywide social conversation, we looked towards the summer’s biggest mass cultural event – EURO 2020.

Launched initially during the Champions League final, our social-first manifesto was pushed out by our squad as well as further talent from TV, music and social creators. The social buzz created fertile conditions for our content of Hope - 40 different micro lessons hosted by the squad.

The momentum was sustained into the EUROs with activity upweighted around tentpole moments, with our planned educational content being enhanced with reactive in-game and in-tournament social content, delivered daily by our internal BEAT process that combines news tracking and social listening to create content on the pulse of the conversation.

An agile media set up ensured we were always in the conversation as it was happening, going live in social as soon as players were abused or taking the knee was booed.


Qualification of three Home Nations, England’s progress to the final, and shocking incidents of abuse throughout the tournament meant the cultural relevance of our campaign only increased as a national and social conversation around online abuse snowballed.

A perfect alignment between our social-first idea and the zeitgeist meant Hope United embedded itself as a significant part of the national psyche, and accordingly, results exceeded all expectations:

1.6b total impressions on social

3.7m people learnt a new social media skill as a result of the campaign

26.4k retweets of unpaid support

70% of the nat rep felt the campaign had a positive impact on football and society

27% overall campaign awareness, up 14% on the client’s previous comparable campaign

392 pieces of press coverage, equivalent to £2.9m in earned media

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