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DADIs Winner Spotlight: How True and UK Sport put digital safety and privacy first to responsibly engage kids

DADIs Winner Spotlight: How True and UK Sport put digital safety and privacy first to responsibly engage kids
Written by publishing team

UK Sport, the UK’s governing agency behind the Olympic and Paralympic Games, is a great example of an organization working to eliminate distortion in the industry, and democratize youth entry. To do this successfully, it is essential that they be able to engage underrepresented youth through marketing.

When the pandemic hit and social distancing restrictions were imposed, UK Sport had to digitize the hiring process. The organization feared that this would narrow access to new sports talent in an industry that has already attracted high-end athletes to a large extent. True was brought in to create a digital campaign and platform to entice young people from all walks of life into a sports career.

The “FromHome2TheGames” campaign resulting from The Drum’s “Best Responsible Digital Engagement with Children” category, sponsored by SuperAwesome, has won the 2021 Drum Awards for Digital Industries (DADIs).

Kate O’Loughlin, Chief Operating Officer of SuperAwesome, met with Nick Horn, Creative Director and David Jones, Chief Strategist at True to discuss the campaign, the importance of diversity, and how to make the internet safer for young people.

UK Sport analyzes and iterates the recruitment process for future athletes every few years to ensure it remains relevant. But in 2021, when traditional hiring processes changed from in-person to online, more reforms were needed.

Horn explains: “UK Sports usually does a roadshow as part of its recruitment drive, touring different university and school campuses for live recruitment tours. But with everything that has happened they have had to review how they were going to do it.”

True is tasked with creating a digital platform that will recruit new types of young talent into the industry “who wouldn’t normally see themselves as potential Olympians, Paralympians, or people who would normally see barriers to applying.”

O’Loughlin comments: “At SuperAwesome, we believe it is extremely important to recognize this type of creativity as we are on a mission to make the internet safer for a young audience.”

Defining the problem

After conducting research on how young people view sporting opportunities in the UK, True determined that many young people consider Olympic and Paralympic sports to be expensive, which explains why the organization has a hard time recruiting people from poor areas.

“Most sports bodies and brands tend to worship sports stars,” Horn says. “But this creates a barrier for younger audiences who view these people as unattainable stars. From a creative point of view, we need to make sports stars look real and engage their travels so that young people can draw parallels to their own personalities.” This was a significant achievement when many were spending a large part of the year at home.

Reach young audiences

Many brands and agencies are shy about speaking directly to young people, due to the complexities of data privacy laws and a lack of knowledge how to address young people in an ethical manner.

The True team used sports stars as influencers in the campaign so that younger watchers can see what it takes to get to where they are today. The ambassadors were chosen based on their personality, their ability to communicate, and as a way to answer real-world questions about engagement – ​​to ease doubt about the process and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

“Hearing a major sports star urge young people to apply for something is different from hearing your mother encourage you to do it,” Jones says. “If we could get this message from them directly to young people, we felt it would increase our chances of getting them to sign up and agree to participate in what could really be a life-changing opportunity.”

“Thinking about how the journey has unfolded from media and advertising, we focus a lot up front on the accompanying content that young athletes can interact with,” he adds.

“There’s been a big way through ads that focus on parents, guardians or educators, but we’ve always had something for the young athletes and the kids and then they go to the site. And while we might not be targeting kids explicitly, with a lot of our media up front, We’ll always have something for them later in the flight when they come to score.”

Data considerations

Since the campaign has targeted children, awareness of necessary data and security measures has been key. It was important that parent-directed applications be submitted, so that information on the parents is collected while also providing the opportunity for parents to participate in the application process.

“Transparency is really important when talking to young people; the journey around the apps has to be informative and informative,” Horn says. As an industry in general, we may have failed in terms of transparency. We have to better understand our users and build that trust with young people through marketing.”

The ‘FromHome2TheGames’ campaign was successful and got an 80% increase in applications from under 16s in 2020, particularly from lower income areas of the UK. The main objective of the campaign was to get a new type of youth to register their applications, someone who had not previously been involved with UK Sport.

“Elite sports don’t need to be elite,” Jones adds. “Our targeted approach and efforts ensured that we reached new audiences who previously did not have much opportunity to enter the industry. We were really pleased when we saw the campaign numbers come in and watched the transition from real life to digital employment.”

Horn thinks and concludes: “Despite our initial reservations, it is not difficult to properly engage youth. There are platforms that exist to make it work and as long as you think about the needs of the youth audience and give them the desired respect, trust and transparency, it is possible to engage them.”

SuperAwesome is making the internet safer for young audiences. The company’s technology enables compatible, secure digital sharing with children and young teens around the world. SuperAwesome is used by hundreds of brands and thousands of developers to enable more than 12.5 billion safe transactions for kids every month. Founded in 2013, the company was acquired by Epic Games in 2020.

For more information on the FromHome2TheGames campaign and takeaways on how to responsibly engage young audiences, watch the full video interview above.

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