The FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards is an annual celebration of the volunteers and organisations who make grassroots football happen.
Our creative makers at TMG have been supporting The FA’s awards for over 10 years, each time making sure the next one is bigger and better. With a record number of nominations in 2020, here’s how we helped navigate the awards through a pandemic, to make sure football community heroes still received the recognition and celebration they deserved.
When the COVID pandemic hit, we’d already spent months planning the campaign to hit our objectives. This included designing new award categories to appeal to wider audiences and organising a new space at Wembley Stadium to display the award winners. We were days away from unveiling a brand new Bobby Moore statue plinth, which would act as a fixed place to recognise otherwise unsung Grassroots Football heroes.
But by March 2020, it was clear that we had to adapt our plans, fast!
We threw the curtains back over the plinth, wiped down the whiteboard and swiftly got to work, creating new ways to discover, and celebrate, these incredible stories.
For us, this new direction didn’t mean endless brainstorms or overly-complicated campaign mechanisms. It was about keeping things simple and moving quickly. Finding new ways to keep the awards going, whilst amplifying the stories, so that the people behind them didn’t miss out on feeling valued for their remarkable contributions.
We brought the national judging panel (which included the likes of Sir Geoff Hurst!) together via Zoom. Working behind the scenes, we provided a smooth judging process with dedicated Zoom rooms for collaboration, plus a development of a seamless online voting portal for the shortlisted entries.
Our 12 winners still deserved to get the experience of a lifetime, so we followed strict Covid guidelines to bring some of the ceremony experience to their hometowns, sending a film crew to capture them at their local clubs and organising surprise visits from football legends like Emile Heskey.
How do you translate receiving an award on stage in front of hundreds of people, to something just as memorable and special? Especially when budgets are squeezed and in-person events are a no-go??
Using footage we captured, we created short videos of each winner, capturing their own unique stories. We then planned a multi-channel social media strategy, which involved revealing these videos on The FA’s Twitter channel every day, for 2 weeks, giving the winners their own unique day of celebration. We also coordinated grassroot clubs, County FAs and @teamgrassroots around the country with football stars like Casey Storey, the Award sponsors McDonald’s and their PR partners to share the winning stories, using our campaign hashtags #GrassrootsHeroes.
To generate excitement and anticipation the day before each winner video was released, our creative makers also organised engaging teaser posts which were shared across all our target social accounts.
One of our favourite community champions from the awards had to be Olly Miller, a 13 year old boy with cerebral palsy and winner of the Bobby Moore award. Olly’s zest for life and attitude towards helping and mentoring others is an inspiration to us all! Meeting him certainly helped to keep us upbeat during a demanding production schedule.
The campaign generated incredible numbers, all using organic reach and engagement.
Our collaborative approach to this campaign and our team’s ability to quickly adapt to the circumstances meant that we were still able to give these winners an experience to remember, achieving a whopping 4.7million organic video views on the Facebook nomination videos alone and getting support from clubs and football legends across the country.
Not only did we triple our online reach from the previous year, but we also found new ways to showcase our heroes which we’ll now take forward for future events – an all round success!
“What a great summary of all of the incredible winners stories we have from this year, all in some way linking back to the difficult period the country and grassroots football as a whole has faced. Really great job from TMG on this content, well done!”