Case Study: European Commission, #supportrefugees
Football is a worldwide passion. But for 65M+ refugees forced from their homes due to conflict, natural disasters, political unrest or religious persecution, day-to-day survival is not a game.
The European Commission provides €1B annually in vital humanitarian aid. The refugee crisis is escalating daily, and the EC wanted to intensify its efforts by drawing big-scale attention to the plight of refugees, seeking a huge, receptive audience in a short time.
Partnering with the Union of European Football Associations and the International Federation of Professional Footballers, we launched “Support Refugees” (with the hashtag #supportrefugees). The campaign kicked off on UN World Refugee Day in June 2016, at the exact moment the Euro 2016 football tournament started. This massive continent-wide event was the media platform to raise awareness of the EU’s contributions to refugees’ health and safety.
We engaged two celebrity footballers for a photo and video shoot: Belgium and Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini and female footballer Anja Mittag, of Germany and Paris Saint-Germain. Their message: “For millions of fans, football is their life. For millions of refugees, life is about survival.”
To counter their sometimes dark and scary characterization in the media, Fellani and Mittag showed how refugees are people just like everyone else, just in a desperate situation. They showed that refugees need Europe’s help, not a cold shoulder.
Although we called on the public to support World Refugee Day, the larger goal was to reach Europeans with a message of solidarity with the refugee cause, and give Europeans a reason to be proud of the €1 billion spent in EU humanitarian aid.
The campaign reached 40M readers across Europe with targeted print ads and social media in 17 high-profile publications. We also created the “Football For Good” festival in Lyon, bringing together influencers, fans, ambassador players and refugees. The Support Refugees campaign video became the most-watched EC clip to date, with estimated reach greater than the entire EU population: