By: Joseph Maguire, Owner & Creative Director at ElephantMark
It’s not often that you get to see something in the brand strategy field that inspires you. But I have to hand it to the American Men & Women’s soccer program, which is working with NIKE to create a series of kits and campaign messaging for the Qatar-based World Cup in 2022. Their “Be The Change” messaging adopted from an earlier campaign from 2020 will be applied with a new logotype for the soccer team’s press room and training facility featuring a rainbow-themed crest in support of the LGBTQ community. The shield change is a part of the squad’s “Be The Change” initiative that launched in 2020 on the heels of social unrest, according to Reuters.
And while I broadly think sports and politics should be separate, in this case, this is about freedom and human rights. There is no better way for America to stand up for freedom than to communicate for those who do not have a voice to speak for themselves, such as in Qatar, where their laws consider homosexuality a crime. To put this into context, we take it for granted we have freedoms in western society that we can live how we choose and be with whom we love. Freedom and America are synonymous in the minds of many Americans; what better way to remind the rest of the world of that, especially in a time when frankly, there is a lot of darkness in it.
In the middle east region, women’s rights and people’s rights are perceived to be shockingly not adequate by western standards. In Iran specifically, Women’s rights and freedoms are being trampled upon. Shockingly they are making headlines during the games for claiming they will do something truly horrific to the protestors who spoke up for women’s rights in their country ( Source: https://in.mashable.com/culture/41792/iran-issues-mass-execution-of-15000-detained-anti-hijab-protestors-sophie-turner-and-others-express ). And while the world cup should be about soccer, national pride, and a celebration of sport, this particular world cup is located in a nation with human rights restrictions. It reminds us that it’s more than just a game and more than just about sport. Former Fifa President Sepp Blatter went so far as to state that Iran should be barred from the upcoming world cup in Qatar following the death of Mahsa Amini ( Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/soccer/iran-should-not-be-allowed-to-play-at-world-cup-says-former-fifa-president-sepp-blatter/ar-AA140eDz ). Just to put this into context USA is in the same bracket in the men’s teams, including Iran, England, and Wales. This makes this entire event all the more pertinent for such a communications strategy.