Deliverables: A feature length documentary on ITV, with a separate campaign on COPA90 across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Role: Wrote, directed and presented the COPA90 content. My role in the ITV content was smaller; primarily the long-term relationship building that helped make the project possible.
Synopsis: In the summer of 2016, in collaboration with ITV as well as a collection of NGOs, charities and other creatives, COPA90 organised the world's first refugee football tournament in Grand-Synthe, France. Amid a maelstrom of media hysteria around the incoming 'migrant hordes', our aim was very simple: show that football is the universal language, and that on the field, everyone is equal.
We created content on every platform for distinct COPA90 and ITV audiences, our narrative mirroring our own personal journeys of understanding. None of us had ever met a Syrian refugee. Around the time of our first trip across the channel, David Cameron was announcing that he wanted to build a wall on French soil to stop refugees from crossing. We wanted to find out for ourselves whether this was as ridiculous as it seemed, first-hand, with no imposed agendas.
In order to communicate this experience, story-telling had to be nuanced and honest. Such a complex and potentially political story had to be treated with respect, and on short-form platforms like Snapchat and the rest of social media, this was an immediate challenge. From the beginning we knew that we would be running two distinct channels of communication - the cross-platform COPA90 story, and the ITV feature documentary to be broadcast. This approach was covered in detail by Digiday here: https://digiday.com/uk/copa90-video-platforms/
The COPA90 audience followed by my own personal experience. Our initial contact was the first of the many training sessions that we'd organised, run by a local coach. I used the COPA90 Snapchat story as a means of meeting, introducing and connecting with the young men who came to play with us. The language barrier was huge, but messing around on Snapchat was as second-nature to them as it was to us.
Over the coming months we developed strong bonds with individuals in the camp, the majority of whom were making nightly crossing attempts to get into the UK. Characters from the Snapchat story would disappear over time, prompting questions from the audience about their safety. The unfortunate reality was that we had no idea whether they were making it to the UK or not.
The campaign began with a Snapchat story, and we gradually warmed our audience up to the concept and the characters with a series of Facebook and Twitter videos that focused on the football, not the politics. 6 months later when we eventually released our YouTube edit, the audience was familiar with the concept and this helped the reception massively, though it was always going to be divisive.
With a reach of over 500,000 on COPA90 channels, a TV broadcast on ITV4 and the ITV Hub and strong press coverage, we felt we'd achieved what we set out to do - to ask questions, to form authentic relationships, and to overcome a mainstream media narrative that was fuelled by fear.