BT launches Hope United campaign to rally the nation and unite against online hate

BT launches Hope United campaign to rally the nation and unite against online hate

BT has launched Hope United, a diverse team of footballers who have come together from across the Home Nations to tackle online hate ahead of the UEFA European Championships.

Behind the Hope United team is a multi-million-pound marketing campaign, developed by BT’s advertising partner Saatchi & Saatchi, that will see the squad of footballers come together for the first time.

Recent research, commissioned by BT, revealed that 1 in 10 people have received online abuse in the past year*. Comprised of male and female players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, drawn together by their own experiences of online hate, Hope United will drive more support for change and educate the nation on how to protect themselves and be good digital citizens.

The concept of Hope United was developed by Saatchi & Saatchi, in collaboration with BT, with the agency developing the brand identity for the team, along with the creative aspects of the campaign including social media content, TV, OOH and press. The Hope United squad will all be supporting across social media throughout the campaign.

As part of the campaign, a 90s film, created by Saatchi & Saatchi and directed by Matilda Finn of Stink Films, will premiere on BT Sport, during the UEFA Europa League Final on Wednesday 26 May, featuring members of the all-star squad. The film shows a powerful depiction of the shattering impact receiving online hate has.

Saatchi & Saatchi also partnered with Nomad, a design studio with heritage in designing football related iconography, to design the Hope United kit, as well as Digitas to develop the Hope United website and Publicis•Poke on retail display and activation. Media buying has been led by Essence, PR by Pitch Marketing Group and sponsorship by Cake. The campaign will also feature a partnership with Reach PLC, who will support across print and digital media.

Running from Monday 24th May and throughout the UEFA European Championships, the campaign will activate across BT and BT Sport’s social, digital and broadcast channels, with editorial content being broadcast across BT Sport, helping to spotlight the issue of online hate.

Utilising BT’s sponsorship of the four Home Nations football associations, the Hope United branding will be visible on matchday during the warm-up friendly matches ahead of the Euros, as well as across the UK through bespoke out-of-home buys, including at Trafalgar Square.

Managed by Rio Ferdinand and Karen Carney, Hope United’s squad of footballers, drawing on their own experience of online hate, will feature in BT Tech Tips content, free resources helping to give people the digital skills they need to tackle hate online at a time where the issue is at the forefront of the sporting world. These will cover the following areas and will be launched across the first two weeks of the campaign, made available online and across social media:

Rio Ferdinand, manager of Hope United, commented, “My work, both on and off the pitch, has taught me that there is no hiding place from social media abuse.”

“Passions run high during big football tournaments and having seen the devastating effect that can result from online hate first-hand, it is more important than ever that sport unites to combat it.”

“I am delighted to have been appointed the manager of Hope United. I’m proud to head up a team of players from across the Home Nations who want to work together in a bid to rase awareness of online hate and encourage people to spread positivity and hope ahead of the Euros this summer.”

Guillermo Vega, CCO, Saatchi & Saatchi: “This is a unique campaign in how it’s come together, in connecting the most powerful names in the game, Bale, Rashford, Bronze among others, and uniting them in a powerful action around tackling online hate. Everything about this has been collaborative and integrated from the start, with BT, with the players, with the partners we worked with, covering the development of the idea, the identity, the kit, TV, comms, influencer outreach, social media. Bringing all of those elements and people together to unite in one powerful message during one of the biggest moments in the football calendar, is significant. The influence and power this team, and this campaign, can have to drive positive change in the game and beyond, is huge.”

Hope United will contribute towards BT Skills for Tomorrow’s ambitious target to reach 25 million people with the skills they need to make the most of life in the digital world. In line with BT’s purpose to Connect for Good, the new ambition aims to help more people across the UK have the skills they need to stay connected, tackle the digital divide and support the UK’s economic recovery.

BT’s Tech Tips campaign helped people navigate a virtual world in response to COVID-19, with 5.76m people learning or doing something new with tech as a result of the campaign. BT is using this Tech Tips platform to educate on the impact of online abuse and give people the skills to play their part in countering online abuse.

Hope United Squad

  • Managers – Rio Ferdinand & Karen Carney
  • Coaches – Robbie Savage & Eni Aluko
  • Jesse Lingard – England
  • Jordan Henderson – England
  • Marcus Rashford – England
  • Gareth Bale – Wales
  • Andy Robertson – Scotland
  • Lucy Bronze – England
  • Demi Stokes – England
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold – England
  • Rebecca Sellar – Scotland para-footballer
  • Liam Palmer – Scotland
  • Ethan Ampadu – Wales
  • Dan James – Wales
  • Helen Ward – Wales
  • Jamal Lewis – Northern Ireland
  • Charlie Fogarty – Northern Ireland para-footballer
  • Lauren James – England


Campaign Title: Hope United
Client: BT
Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London
CCO: Guillermo Vega
Creative Director: William John
Creative Team: Will Brookwell, Nathan Crawford
Copywriters: Katy Stanage, Alex Kosterman, Jake Wiseman
Art Directors: Fabiano Gomes, James Ginn
Designers: Nick Roberts, Steve Tinkler, Marco Balducci, Marcos Almeida, Amy Fry. Nomad Studio.
CEO: Sam Hawkey
Planners: Richard Huntingdon, Ed Hayne, Eloise Sykes
Managing Partner: Jon Tapper
Account Team: Richard Sweetman, Fergus Waddell, Liz Maunsell, Rania Kouros, Gabi Dwek, Alice Schweigert
Agency Producers: Georgie Ford, Laura Francis, Jeremy Sarman, Felicity Cruickshank, Chris Styring
Media Buying Agency: Essence
Media Planner: Michael Bensley, Shane Murphy, Tom Kislingbury, Christina Petrou
Production Company: Stink Films, Prodigious
Director: Matilda Finn, Chris Faith
Editor: Leo King
Producer: James Waters
Post-Production Company: The Mill
Audio Post-Production Company: Factory
Photographer: Shamil Tanna
Exposure: Nationwide

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