The beautiful game, the prediction and anticipation before each tense match, what an exciting summer it was. The scorching heat and England’s unbelievable rise through the competition saw strangers come together to sing ‘It’s coming home’ together on the tube, on the streets, in the pubs across London and the UK. Let’s face it, after the fragmentation that came post Brexit vote, it was beautiful to see unity so openly expressed by individuals from every conceivable background. Football seemed to bring us back together.
You might then wonder why Solace chose to run a campaign titled #StopItComingHome, by all counts an unpopular counter hashtag to England’s pride and joy, resisting their rousing call to bring football back to its rightful home.
We were approached by Stack, a leading creative agency that had read about the link between domestic violence and England World Cup games. It all stemmed from this study, conducted by researchers from Lancaster University that uncovered some very uncomfortable statistics - namely that:
'When England lose a World Cup game, incidents of domestic violence increase by 38% and (even more shockingly) by 26% when they win.'
Stack felt there was an awareness piece needed and they wanted to work with a domestic abuse charity to amplify this important public safety message in the hope of creating real change. Together with their creative expertise we developed #StopItComingHome – a campaign designed to attract attention, playing on words that on the surface appear in opposition to England’s success but really the ‘It’ referenced the real, terrifying incidents of domestic violence correlated to football entering the homes, hearts and minds of potential victims.
Let’s be clear - the message is not that football itself is responsible for domestic abuse. Football can be a source of community, a tool for developing self-esteem and a vehicle of tolerance building. Most fans watch a game without becoming aggressive. For some reason however, it exacerbates an underlying systemic problem in our society causing some individuals to become violent and vent their anger on those who are closest to them – including their children.
The resulting success of the campaign blew our socks off. No shocking image, no celebrity spokesperson—just stats that football fans are interested in with the inclusion of the domestic violence rise stat cleverly embedded within.Outdoor Media liked our campaign so much that they selected it to appear on 38 outdoor sites across the UK for the duration of the World Cup. #StopitComingHome was trending #11 on twitter across UK and the combined reach of the campaign was over 3 million, our most successful campaign to date.
We monitored the news to try and understand if the domestic abuse stats were reflected in 2018's reality. Unfortunately, the actual statistics were staggering. The BBC reported a "significant rise" in domestic abuse reports during the World Cup, the lead officer for football policing in England and Wales has said. The incidents steadily rose throughout the competition, peaking when more than 60 incidents were reported after England's semi-final defeat by Croatia, compared to the highest figure of 24 during Euro 2016. Nearly 700 reports of trouble at licensed premises and 239 domestic abuse calls were also linked to the team's fixtures.
The evidence shows this correlation is real and we must continue to counter unhealthy behaviours as well as promoting the unifying potential of football, the beautiful game.
We cannot measure the true impact of our campaign or how it affected the public that came into contact with it. It is certain however that information is power, and that power can counteract abuse by identifying it outright and helping people seek support.