FC United – United To Prevent Suicide
FC United to Prevent Suicide
In 2020, working alongside the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) we launched a social movement named United to Prevent Suicide, aimed at making Scotland the world’s most supportive country. The campaign had immediate success with the message of breaking the stigma and talking about suicide reverberating around Scotland.
When the dust settled, however, it was found that one main group of people wasn’t signing up. Men. We put our heads together and the idea for a new “football team” was born. One that everyone can support. One that only has one rival: suicide.
We needed to find a way to connect to people in an understandable, relatable, and approachable language. Nothing suited this more than using Scotland’s national sport. We would create Scotland’s “second team” for everyone to get behind, with existing players, clubs, and fans joining the team. We have seen so often how much impact individual clubs can have in their community when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention. Our idea was to harness that spirit and togetherness that football brings, not to replace any existing communities, but to help boost them and potentially offer a communal safe space online for people to share how they’re feeling, and encourage them to start conversations with family, friends, and anyone they care about.
For launching this new club – which was to be based solely on Twitter and YouTube – we needed content.
In our Meaningful Conversations series, we spoke to figures within football about their lived experiences of suicide and mental health. What stood these films apart were the way they were constructed; instead of a one-on-one with an interviewer, we got our participants to talk and open up to each other. This allowed them to be more honest and relaxed, and gave the conversations a strength in power for the viewer.
We created a bespoke Football Kit for the team – every team needs a kit after all. Designed in-house at Studio Something and made for a limited number of ambassadors by our friends at Football Nation, we now had a strong visual identity for FC United and could get our message – Talk – out there quickly and effectively.
A crucial part of our initial growth were the aforementioned Ambassadors, recruited to back the team and tweet their support. What started with a few select footballers from within Scotland grew all the way to full support from the Scotland Men’s and Women’s National Teams. We had superstars supporting us and backing our key message to their thousands, sometimes millions of followers.
The outcome of this was an overwhelming public demand for the kits. What had originally been designed for message spreading and visually arresting assets had become an opportunity for hundreds of people around Scotland to show their support at 5-a-sides, gyms and streets all across the nation. We put the kits on sale – with all profits going towards future United to Prevent Suicide campaigns – and sold over 800. We now have people tweeting on a nearly daily basis wearing their kit with pride, and telling us of the conversations around suicide that they’ve started.
We had the filmed content, the kit photography and sales, but we needed a bit more. What we were missing was written testimony from people who wished to share their story. We called these New Signings and, in the same way as we did with the original UTPS campaign, put them on Medium for people to read and share.
There are many ways to gauge ‘success’ when you put out a new campaign or piece of work. You can look at the raw data; the numbers, the shares, the digits behind it. And you can look at the human side of it; the discussion, the anecdotal evidence, the real life reach. With FC United, it has been a joy to see these results materialise as they have.
To put it into snacksize stats:
7.4m Twitter impressions
13,147 direct engagements (Likes, Retweets, Replies)
500k media views
Nearly 10k Twitter followers
Support + kit photography from the Scotland National Team and a host of high profile sports personalities
+800 supporters and football players with FC United Kits
Coverage and support from high profile sports bodies e.g. Sportbible, SPFL, Scottish FA, FIFA, The Sun, and The Irish Mirror
But more than that, we’ve seen first-hand the impact the campaign has had on the footballing and suicide prevention communities online. People are going out of their way to share how they’re feeling, share their lived experience and tell us about all the conversations they’ve had because they’ve seen a kit, or watched a video, or read an article. For a subject matter so close to the agency’s heart, this is where all the job satisfaction comes home to roost.
Keep your eyes on FC United in 2022, we have a lot more coming your way.