The Athletic's Emergency Hotline Offers Hope for World Cup Fans
Caller (sobbing): Please ... tell me there's still hope ... What are the
percentage of comebacks? ... Just give me a stat, something ...
Operator: Sir, breathe! And listen to me! 80 percent of their goals came after the 80th minute, it's not over yet!
Soccer experts from The Athletic will offer hope and solace to FIFA World Cup fans in the U.K. through an "Emergency Football Hotline" devised by creative agency Harbour. That conversation above—just an example, but dripping with fannish angst—comes from this launch film:
And here's a cute video starring legendary Argentinian player and manager Mauricio Pochettino, who gamely phones it in:
"By sharing The Athletic's unrivaled football insights and knowledge with the general public, we'll get more people to love the game as much as they do," Harbour creative director Thibault Michal tells Muse. "We know how much football matters during tournaments. How many arguments you can have with your mates. How many TVs have been broken or thrown out of windows."
That last bit sounds extreme. But these are soccer fans, so it tallies.
"To avoid the feuds and help as many people as we can to enjoy the games, the idea to create a free hotline that anyone can call in case of an urgent football question imposed itself," Michal says. "Anyone can call in and ask a football-related question, it doesn't matter if this is a niche question about a specific player or just a fun fact to impress a mate."
The hotline—0800 0 433 433—will provide stats, news and updates throughout the tournament, which kicks off on Sunday.
Given host nation Qatar's dismal human rights record and hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community, World Cup 2022 has stirred considerable controversy. So, one does wonder if folks will call in with political gripes or invectives. Pro tip: Don't. Remember, the service will be staffed by live humans, including many of The Athletic's journalists. No bots. No algorithms. No scripts. So please, mind your manners and stay focused on the actual games.
The Athletic is promoting the hotline through stickers and OOH elements:
Thus far, other splashy brand campaigns tied to the World Cup, from official sponsors or otherwise, include efforts from Fox Sports, Nike, Apple TV+ and Guinness.
However, some messaging around the event takes a far different tone. For example, this plea for equality from Qatar's LGBTQ+ national football supporters' group via agency The Community, and F&B's soccer cards memorializing immigrants who died while working construction and other jobs in the run-up to the competition.
The Athletic Emergency Football Hotline
Creative agency - Harbour
Creative Directors: Yann-Gael Cobigo & Thibault Michal
Producer: Katie Bayley
Creative Partner: Mick Mahoney
Strategy Partner: Kevin Chesters
Business Director: Anna Bee
Account Manager: Emma Bannon
Illustrator: Studio Jimbo
Client – The Athletic
International Marketing Director: Sinead Bunting
Editor-in-Chief: Alex Kay-Jelski
General Manager UK & International: Aki Mandhar
Marketing Manager: James Wettern
PR agency – PrettyGreen
Associate Director: Lucy Mart / Sam Hooper-Gill
Account Director: Tania Burnham
Account Manager: Rob Jones
Senior Account Executive: Tanz Jeyacheya
Influencer agency - What They Said
Client Services Director: Joe Stratton
Campaign Executive: Kit Wilson