500 players from nearly 50 countries took part in a week long festival of football and much more at the 17th Homeless World Cup in Cardiff. We designed and delivered a multi-channel strategic communications campaign helping transform the lives of those with lived experience of homelessness and social exclusion.
More than 500 players representing nearly 50 countries travelled to Cardiff to play in the week-long festival of football from Saturday July 27th – Saturday August 3rd. Over one million people worldwide have had their lives positively impacted by the tournament and its programmes since the first tournament in Graz, Austria in 2003. We wanted to help make Cardiff’s tournament the best ever. We worked closely with actor and activist Michael Sheen, who had a hands-on role in designing and delivering the tournament. For the first time in Homeless World Cup history, Cardiff’s tournament hosted a live music stage and debate tent.
The Homeless World Cup is the perfect platform to put the spotlight on the issues surrounding global homelessness, telling powerful human stories to show how sport can bring people together, create opportunities and change lives.
Our strategy was built around four campaign themes which all media relations and social media output linked back to. There were so many stories to tell, but we created these themes for us to determine which were the most important.
The launch film
To launch the Homeless World Cup on 3rd May 2019, we told the story of the inclusive and integral role football plays in countless communities across the country. Working with Michael Sheen, we filmed at football pitches of all shapes and sizes across Wales, to convey the central messaging that on the football pitch everyone, from all walks of life regardless of personal circumstance, can find a home. The launch film generated over 100k impressions on Twitter, reach of nearly 100k on Facebook and was aired on Channel 5 News and Soccer AM.
The press junkets
With Michael Sheen acting as the main spokesperson for the event, we organised and managed two press junkets at key milestones in the campaign – at the launch in early May and again during the week before the tournament commenced in late July.
It was our way of spreading the word that 500 players from nearly 50 countries were coming to Wales to compete in the tournament. At the launch junket in May journalists were given one on one time with Michael Sheen.
And ahead of the tournament at the July junket, media also had the chance to hear the stories of players from the Welsh Homeless World Cup squads, and key management from Street Football Wales, as well as Mel Young, founder of the Homeless World Cup Foundation.
Over thirty different publications/networks were accommodated across the two press junkets including Sky Sports, Channel 5 News, BBC Breakfast and the Daily Mirror.
May – July – media management
To maintain momentum in the build up to the tournament and leverage Michael’s profile, we organised for him to feature on podcasts including The Urbanist, Reasons to be Cheerful and Elis James’ Feast of Football. We also worked with his celebrity publicists to assist with his appearances on the likes of the The Last Leg, Soccer AM, Cerys Matthews’ 6Music show, The Sara Cox Show, The Graham Norton Show and more. In addition, we introduced Michael’s team to the editor of GQ magazine proposing his involvement with the GQ Men of the Year Awards.
We also worked with Michael to create another film featuring him discussing his favourite ever goal. Alongside iconic goals from the likes of Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs, Michael states that his favourite ever goal was scored by a player that no one will ever heard of, a woman called Dee who played at the Homeless World Cup in Oslo. Dee’s life changed in the moment the ball hit the net, acting as a catalyst for Michael to bring the Homeless World Cup to Wales. The film generated over 225k impressions on Twitter and reached nearly 100k on Facebook.
At key moments of the campaign, we released three player stories with former Wales Homeless World Cup internationals created by our film department. We also coincided this by issuing their personal stories to media to drive further awareness about the tournament.
In the build up to the tournament and during, we wanted to position players as the heroes of the campaign, so briefed and included them within media interviews giving them the opportunity to talk about their experiences on and off the pitch. These personal stories allowed us to show just how life changing the tournament can be.
Media were consistently invited to attend training sessions for the Welsh Homeless World Cup squads. We attended all sessions to manage interviews and ensure the players were comfortable with the process.
In consultation with Michael Sheen Working Word created the Homeless World Cup Cardiff 2019 brand, which made use of Wales’ dragon symbology. The brand was used in all aspects of the HWC campaign, in dozens of different iterations including:
The brand we developed was responsible for conveying the look and feel of the campaign and tournament and it was one of the earliest pieces of work we undertook in early 2019.
In the run up to the tournament on social channels we worked to link all content back to the four communications themes. Examples of this included:
Where – Croeso i Gymru/ Welcome to Wales
How – Disrupting the debate
What & When – Event announcements
Why & Who – Homelessness = Human
During the tournament, we used Instagram stories to create a ‘behind the scenes’ feel Alongside this, content during the tournament about the Bevan Tent and music line up helped drive attendance.
Our on-site film team created a daily highlight videos from each day of the tournament, which we pushed across social channels. These were published every evening showcasing a snapshot of the day – from the best goals, to celebrity performers on stage and in the debate tent and magical moments from around the huge Bute Park site. Every highlights film was soundtracked with a song from a Welsh band.
Finally, we worked to engage with the huge influx of incredible mentions the Homeless World Cup’s social media channels was receiving during the tournament from visitors who had a great time at the event and whose perceptions had changed around the issue of homelessness.
The tournament might have ended, but the work to create a legacy from the Homeless World Cup Cardiff 2019 hasn’t. Working Word is now part of a larger group including Michael Sheen and Cymorth Cymru that is working to create tangible actions following the momentum of the tournament in discussing issues around homelessness, changing perceptions and addressing the rise in homelessness in Wales.