PR > Social Engagement & Influencer Marketing
72ANDSUNNY, Los Angeles / NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE / 2022
Why is this work relevant for PR?
The NFL, as the stewards of football and the most popular sports league in America, has the power to influence opinions across the country, contributing to societal and cultural change. Often faced with the challenge of upholding American values amidst a morally-divided country, the NFL has consciously pivoted to a helmet’s-off approach to uplift players' voices and stand by them. When Carl Nassib courageously came out and become the first active NFL player to be gay, the NFL wanted to immediately show their support - supercharging the cultural conversation that was already underway.
“Football is a microcosm of America.”
These words, from LaDainan Tomlinson, articulate in part why the NFL is the largest, most popular sports league in America—because football is America, united by their love for the game. That is, unless you’re gay. Across the NFL’s 102 year history, not one of its 35,000 active players had openly identified as LGBTQ+. This fact is not just startling, it’s indicting; football’s infamous heteronormativity is not because gay players don’t exist, but because their identities are oppressed.
Until June 21, 2021, when Carl Nassib bravely and openly came out as gay.
We knew the NFL’s action at that moment would define its stance. If football is a microcosm of America, the NFL had to step up for America. We needed to show up in support of Carl and, at long last, begin to establish football as a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community.
Describe the creative idea
When Carl Nassib came out as the first openly gay NFL player, he changed football history. We drew inspiration from his simple, yet powerful statement and sought out to make a powerful statement of our own. One that was unmistakably in support of him and after long last, officially welcomed all people into the NFL community. Football is so many things to so many people, put simply: Football is for Everyone.
“Football is for Everyone” launched on the morning of Pride, June 28th, just days after Carl Nassib publicly came out. To make our statement unignorable, we focused solely on words. We open with a provocation: Football is Gay. From there, it flutters through a series of assertions. Football is: beautiful, queer, transgender, American, accepting, everything...for everyone. Our CTA invites audiences to join us in supporting The Trevor Project.
Describe the PR strategy
The NFL’s statement of pride and inclusion, “Football is for Everyone”, was created for all of America. From coast to coast, Gen Alpha to Baby Boomers, casual viewers to avid fans, across diverse upbringings, identities, political backgrounds and beliefs. The film was designed to confront people and get them talking, supercharging the cultural conversation that was already underway. To accomplish this, we utilized the mass scale of the NFL ecosystem and channels of our campaign partner, The Trevor Project, to deploy our message and generate national traction.
Describe the PR execution
“Football is for Everyone” launched on Pride Day, June 28th, just days after Carl Nassib publicly came out. We first leveraged the NFL’s social channels to deploy the message to our 48.2M fans. From there, we expanded our reach to rally sports fans across America on the biggest stage possible during the NFL off-season, the NBA Western Conference Finals. We were able to create a concentrated, culture-driving moment that caught fire with PR. Leading up to launch, we worked closely with The Trevor Project to pitch the campaign to outlets. So when our message went live, we had an abundance of support - from USA Today to TMZ.
List the results
Football is for Everyone garnered 114.3M organic impressions worth ~$1.5M with a $16k paid budget. There were 343 unique articles published, ranging from USA Today, Daily Mail, Men’s Health to TMZ. The tone was one that rightfully celebrated and focused on Carl Nassib and his courageous precedent setting - the articles commending the NFL’s quick response to support him, but this was not ever meant to be about us, we were here to lend our platform to further an important cultural conversation, and the press response happily mirrored that. We received over 12K+ organic social mentions, including shoutouts from 22/32 NFL teams.
Football Is For Everyone Helped contribute to a 38% increase in YoY donations to The Trevor Project. While attribution is difficult to quantify, we have a directional proxy: after viewing, 58% said they were likely to visit The Trevor Project to donate and learn more.
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