Our work with Sport England during the coronavirus pandemic was a masterclass in the power of PR as THE most rapid communications tool.
Sport England turned to us when it needed to respond quickly to the pandemic and bridge the communications void before an above-the-line campaign could be deployed.
It’s the role of Sport England, an arms-length government body, to help the nation get active and this never felt more important: not just a means of maintaining physical health, but to support people’s mental wellbeing as they dealt with worries caused by the pandemic and lockdown.
With gyms, parks and leisure facilities closed, we were tasked with raising awareness of the need for the public to remain active during lockdown and provide inspiration to help people do this in and around their homes. The campaign would signpost people to Sport England’s Join the Movement website packed with free workout content.
Briefed on 16th March as the population were urged to work from home and minimise travel, we had one week to plan our campaign. We activated it on 23rd March, the day Boris Johnson announced lockdown.
We lent heavily on famous faces to ensure the campaign would resonate with a wide audience. Our celebs would also help us grab the media’s attention, securing editorial against competition from other COVID content.
Using the power of persuasion, we secured the support of over 70 celebrities and sports stars – and all for free! They were chosen for their ability to authentically speak on the subject of getting active with many designing home workouts for the campaign. Relatability to audiences that Sport England insights show are less likely to be active, such as women and BAME groups, was also factor.
Within the first 48 hours, we secured Strictly’s Karen Hauer, Olympian Greg Rutherford, and Lionesses Rachel Daly and Millie Bright as campaign ambassadors. Additional social support came Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill and First Dates’ Fred Siriex.
We went on to garner social support from major sport stars: Harry Kane, Yaya Toure, Liv Cooke, Jofra Archer, Heather Knight, Chris Froome, Brownlee Brothers, Jamie Murray, Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis, Becky Adlington, Jonny Wilkinson, Ben Youngs and Lawrence Dallegio.
Supported by content from our celebs, the campaign set out to inspire the public through encouraging the sharing of UGC fun and creative ideas for getting active – all curated through #StayInWorkOut.
Sport England briefed TV doctors – including Dr Hilary Jones – to promote the holistic benefits of remaining active. TV fitness experts such as Green Goddess (Diana Moran), Mr Motivator (Derrick Evans) and YouTuber Joe Wicks were also reached out to.
As the TVC launch date (27th April) approached, we galvanised ‘the Movement’, initiating wave two of the talent outreach. A letter from Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth was sent to sports stars urging them to share the campaign and inform the nation of the urgent need to keep active.
The PR campaign successfully kick-started the ‘Join The Movement’ campaign, raising awareness on a massive scale and inspiring people to get involved during the five weeks before the ATL launched.
Over 500 pieces of well-messaged media coverage including 35 national stories and 11 broadcast hits on the like of BBC Breakfast, ITV Lorraine, Channel 5, Sky News, BBC 5 Live and Talk Radio.
Our celebs generated 207 social posts with a combined reach of 13 million. Around a third of posts included a piece of their own UGC whilst two thirds carried the Sport England TVC exercise content.
The campaign generated fantastic social engagement with 43.3k social mentions with a net sentiment of 97.6%.
All campaign content signposted people to the Join The Movement website which clocked up 678k visits over 10 weeks, of which 92% were first-time visitors.
Most importantly, the campaign influenced behaviour. Sport England’s data showed that in week seven of the campaign, physical activity levels were higher than at any stage post-lockdown and attitudes towards sport and physical activity had improved.
The campaign has received the following accolade:
- Winner – PR Week Awards 2020 – Best Use of Celebrity or Celebrities in a Campaign
- Finalist – PRCA National Awards 2020 – Public Sector Value for Money Award (awaiting results)