Written by Joe Jackson on Oct 14, 2021. Posted in Production News

BT’s Hope United launch Black History campaign with Marcus Rashford, Eniola Aluko, Ferdinand brothers, and Saatchi & Saatchi

Hope United are releasing a series of educational films with football stars Marcus Rashford, Eniola Aluko, and Anton and Rio Ferdinand as part of BT’s Black History Month programming. Made in collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi London, the first wave of short clips will explore the Windrush generation’s experiences, examining the ongoing impact that the migration of Caribbean diasporas has on today’s football scene and, more broadly, contemporary British culture.


The series is directed by Tom Brown and produced by Thu Minh Nguyen through Prodigious. The Ferdinands launch the campaign by discussing Standing Firm: Football’s Windrush Story, a free-to-watch documentary that premiered exclusively on BT Sport last month. In the second film, ex-Chelsea and Juventus footballer Eniola Aluko will share her admiration for ground-breaking players Emma Clarke and Laurie Cunningham. Aluko’s instalment encourages viewers to visit the English Heritage Blue Plaque Stories site to learn more about the legacy of Cunningham, the first black football player to represent England in a competitive international fixture.


Later this year, a final film with Marcus Rashford will highlight the key role that literature plays when introducing young people to the history of Black Britons. As part of this project, Rashford recommends a special list of books written by experts that are fundamental to the history of racial dynamics, including Floella Benjamin, David Olusoga and Lenny Henry. “The power of books, helping us all to understand the past and the importance of black history, should not be underestimated,” emphasises Dr Rashford MBE, a vocal campaigner against child food poverty who recently became the youngest person to ever receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester. “Technology is making this more accessible than ever before.”


Hope United – a team of footballers spread across the Home Nations – is also the brainchild of Saatchi & Saatchi. BT’s research discovered that one in ten people have been subjected to online racism in the past year. Managed by Rio Ferdinand and Karen Carney, the mixed-gender team of players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all drawn together by their personal experiences of online abuse. Rashford, Aluko and the Ferdinands are among these top-level players who have suffered abuse in the digital sphere, thus BT’s latest campaign marks an emphatic and united statement from the highest echelons of the footballing community to stamp out racism.


“My work, both on and off the pitch, has taught me that there is no hiding place from social media abuse,” declares retired-England defender Rio Ferdinand. “Passions run high during big football tournaments, and having seen the devastating effect that can result from online hate first-hand, it is more important than ever that sport unites to combat it.”


“At the core of Hope United is the idea that education can be a facilitator for change, that education can bring hope,” elaborates Will John, Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi. “Hope United has the reach and influence to use social media for good, so it was great to work with them to help educate the nation through bite-sized lessons about Black British History.”



Images courtesy of BT and Hope United

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