The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By The Drum, Editorial

June 13, 2024 | 6 min read

Taking Sports Gold and the Grand Prix at The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA 2024 is How the Power of Sport Can Save Lives - Norwich City x World Mental Health Day. Here is the award-winning case study.

Background & Objectives

This all started with a question: how could we use our platform to help save a life? We uncovered a data point that has provided the foundation for the club’s work on promoting positive mental health over the last 18 months: the average age of our season ticket holders correlates to the age bracket most likely to take their own life (45-49).

Ahead of our kit launch in summer 2023, the most eagerly anticipated piece of content Norwich City Football Club deliver each year, we had an innovative but bold idea. We’d tell supporters the kit was going to be released, engage a captive audience, and then surface a hugely poignant video which educates supporters on the alarming growth in suicide rates, and where to go if supporters were in times of need. Supporters and neutrals were hugely receptive to the concept, and from that point onwards, we knew we had to lead the way in this area.

We’ve subsequently delivered activity around key dates in the calendar, such as World Mental Health Day 2022 and Mental Health Awareness Week, but none have quite had the traction and impact that our work around World Mental Health Day 2023 has had.

Strategy & Execution

Knowing the importance of the day in the calendar, within Marketing we began building concepts that we felt would deliver cut-through. We first looked at our activity from World Mental Health Day 2022, and given the success, looked to build on them as follows:

  • Shirt Sponsorship: In 2022, our front-of-shirt sponsor Lotus generously gifted their shirt sponsorship to Norfolk and Waveney Mind. This year, we went a step further and engaged our sleeve and back of shirt sponsors, Turismo de Gran Canaria and, alongside Lotus, to deliver a full shirt takeover for Samaritans. All shirts were subsequently placed on our auctions platform, raising funds for Samaritans.
  • Fictional Line-up Graphic: In 2022, ahead of our fixture prior to World Mental Health Day, we delivered a fictional line-up graphic, capitalizing on the traffic from supporters waiting for the real line-up and surfacing a haunting statistic on growing mental health rates. We invited our opponents that day, Preston North End, to take part and they accepted, ensuring this message would reach their supporters. We were inspired to think bigger, and this time around invited all clubs in the league to take part. Importantly, this was not a league initiative where clubs were expected to take part, this was a concept designed by Norwich City. To their credit, all clubs took part, ensuring this hugely important message reached supporters across the country.
  • #YouAreNotAlone Video: On World Mental Health Day itself, we delivered our #YouAreNotAlone video. The concept was devised in-house by the club's marketing manager, Daniel Williams, and delivered by a small working group including head of marketing Gavin Beard, and Videographer Tom Smith. The idea was to highlight two supporters who fall into high-risk age brackets, and try to dispel the myth that just because someone appears okay on the surface, they may not be. Two local actors (Martin and Marston) were sourced, one who was in fact a part-time steward at the stadium. All extras who appear in the video are full-time members of staff across Marketing, Communications, Tech and Engagement and Delivery who voluntarily gave up their time for the cause.

We shot the film with a fixed camera position, focusing on Martin throughout. We deliberately allowed Marston to leave the frame on numerous occasions, symbolically indicating that someone struggling with suicidal thoughts can often be unseen. We shot from 3pm-8pm to ensure that the natural change in lighting, alongside the strategic change of outfits, made it appear as if it was shot over the course of a season. Importantly, we were also in regular dialogue with Samaritans as we wanted to ensure we were portraying the most accurate description we possibly could, even down to the physical cues the actors portrayed.

Results & Impact

Our kit launch video in 2022 achieved 300k organic views on Twitter, and we were hopeful of surpassing this, knowing each view increases the likelihood of reaching someone who may be struggling. However, what happened next surpassed all expectations. Across the club’s channels alone, the video has been seen over 63 million times. However, when combined with user-generated uploads primarily across TikTok, X, and Instagram Reels, the video has been seen over 146 million times. It received support from the Prince and Princess of Wales and was also backed by leading voices in this field such as Roman Kemp.

The video was attributed to driving over 7500 inbound messages to Samaritans, which accounted for 63% of their total messages. It achieved earned media in publications across Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

We then received a message from a prison service, whose prisoners had a high propensity to self-harm. They had laptops in their prison but with no internet and asked if we would be willing to share the original file for them to upload onto their laptops to share with inmates, highlighting the importance of talking about their feelings. This was hugely inspirational, and so with guidance from Heads Up, we reached out and united the leading charities in this sector (CALM, Mind, Samaritans, Heads Up, and Shout) to make the original file freely available to any individual or organization who requested it. We'd seen the impact the video had and wanted to ensure there were no barriers in place stopping someone from seeing it. We set up a designated mailbox, manned by staff, and have had over 500 requests for the video, from places of worship, schools, governments, and emergency services to corporate institutions across the globe.

The club's previous work in this area already highlighted how important it was that we continued to use our platform to educate supporters, but the impact of this campaign really cemented that. As a club, we’re now synonymous with this topic and will continue to use our voice to help fight against the stigma of mental health.

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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