Harnessing Russia’s football team to spread the message of love and equality

When FIFA awarded the World Cup to Russia – a country with an infamously inhospitable attitude towards homosexuality – it felt like a kick in the teeth to the millions of LGBT+ football fans around the world. Paddy Power wanted to create a campaign that kicked back.

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CHALLENGE

When FIFA awarded the World Cup to Russia – a country with an infamously inhospitable attitude towards homosexuality – it felt like a kick in the teeth to the millions of LGBT+ football fans around the world. 

Paddy Power wanted to create a campaign that kicked back.

Our challenge was to make Paddy Power the most talked about brand in the UK during the FIFA World Cup, deliver a lasting positive impact on the LGBT+ community and build a feeling of goodwill towards the brand. 

SOLUTION

Combining LGBT+ insights with the one-upmanship and humour that permeates football culture, we decided it wasn’t enough for us to support the LGBT+ community – we wanted Russia to support them too. 

For every goal the Russian national team scored, we donated £10,000 to LGBT+ charities. Russian success was directly funding a better future for the LGBT+ community.  We made it so the LGBT+ community was paradoxically supported by a country that doesn’t support them, and the money came from Russia with equal love.

Imperative to the campaign’s success was rallying the LGBT+ community to ironically support the Russian national football team. And key to this was the selection of charity, The Attitude Foundation. The foundation is a charitable arm of the UKs best-selling and award-winning gay magazine. 

To supercharge our reach we enlisted some of the most influential LGBT+ celebrities to announce their support for Russia and encourage their followers to do the same. Caitlyn Jenner, Nigel Owens MBE, Louie Spence, Lianne Sanderson, Keegan Hurst and Mark Foster were amongst the names who joined in.

We projected a rainbow flag ‘Thank you’ message from Russia to the LGBT+ community, on Russia’s London Embassy following the Russian teams’ exit from the competition. 

We used our social channels to maintain momentum throughout the campaign by celebrating key campaign moments and encouraging support ahead of Russia’s matches. 

The Paddy Power blog became the centrepiece of the campaign by communicating key moments and updates to fans and followers.

IMPACT

Paddy Power became the most talked about betting brand in the UK and 5th in the world* as a direct result of the integrated campaign. The Paddy Power blog post drove 230,000 site visits and became the most read Paddy Power post during the World Cup. We generated 75+ pieces of coverage with a reach of 450m, 84m impressions, 12,000 organic tweets and 92% positive or neutral sentiment.

But, more importantly, we generated £170,000 for LGBT+ causes. We paid for legal aid for the LGBT+ community, lobbying the FA to fight against homophobia and creating LGBT+ safe spaces in football.

To cap it all off, we won the BT Sport Industry Awards ‘UK Campaign of the Year’ for 2019.

“Rainbow Russians wasn’t just one of our big successes of 2018 – delivering significant ROI, creating a feeling of goodwill and making us one of the most talked about brands in the world – it’ll go down as one of Paddy Power’s best ever activations. So much so, it was immortalised in our ‘Museum of Mischief’ celebrating 30 years of the brand, and our greatest hits.”

Lee Price – Head of PR, Paddy Power.

*MediaCom social listening report

**DMS social listening report


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