He’s Coming Home: New campaign tackles domestic abuse amid football fever

There’s a darker side to the Beautiful Game that Women’s Aid wants you to know about. And that’s the hidden issue of domestic abuse exacerbated by the country’s fervour for football.

Whilst many of us are enjoying the Euros this month, an award-winning campaign by Women’s Aid highlights a darker side to football: the spike in domestic abuse during big games. Created by House 337, it centres around reimagined football scarves bearing popular chants and impactful slogans on display, such as ‘No More Years of Hurt’, ‘He’s Coming Home’ and ‘England Till I Die’.

Why the push? Research by Lancaster University has shown that domestic abuse incidents surge by 38% when England loses and by 26% when they win or draw during tournaments. While football itself doesn’t cause domestic abuse, the stress and emotions of major games can intensify existing abusive behaviour.

As such, Women’s Aid is looking for support during the Euros to turn domestic abuse from a private problem into the public domain. With violence against women at a peak and funding for women’s services critically low, the campaign also hopes to elevate the issue on the public agenda, particularly on the cusp of a general election, to boost efforts to eradicate domestic abuse once and for all.

The scarves are being sent to key influencers and featured in out-of-home ads and on social media, emphasising the rise in domestic abuse reports during such tournaments. These ads cleverly weave common misogynistic phrases into the scarves’ design, symbolising how domestic abuse is often overlooked despite being pervasive.

Titled He’s Coming Home, the campaign launched initially during the World Cup and has significantly impacted Women’s Aid as an organisation. It has garnered support from key political and football figures and celebrity ambassadors like Mel B. The current iteration aims to continue these crucial conversations across the UK to combat the issue. Meanwhile, the OOH ads are now on display at selected sites nationwide, aligning with England’s next group-stage match. The online campaign will span LinkedIn, Instagram, X, and Facebook.

“Football championships are a fantastic time for us to come together as a country through a game many of us love,” says Teresa Parker from Women’s Aid. “However, for many women and children living with an abuser, major football tournaments can be a time filled with fear. While domestic abuse is not caused by football, we know existing abuse can become more severe or frequent during big tournaments. It is vital that we raise awareness of this during this crucial time so that survivors know where they can get help and so that the public knows how they can support charities like Women’s Aid.”

Charlie Hurrell, chief client officer at House 337, adds: “For most of us, the Euros will be a time to enjoy some great football and a sense of hope and unity as we support our teams – which makes it all the more powerful a moment to get the message out about the dark side of these tournaments. Repurposing the most iconic and powerful phrases in British football is an incredibly effective way of raising awareness of domestic abuse. The campaign reaches the public during a critical time and mobilises people on a hugely important issue which wouldn’t otherwise have been on the agenda.”

The 2022 campaign, also by House 337, coincided with the World Cup and was described as one of the most viral domestic abuse campaigns. It was picked up by all major news outlets, and it got the attention of political figures like Keir Starmer, the Home Office, national police authorities, policymakers, and local councils. It generated 23 million TikTok views and extensive sharing across platforms.

“As a result, Women’s Aid saw a 78% increase in traffic to its website driven by social media and a 44% rise in visits to its donate page. There was also a 17% rise in visits to its information and support page,” says Charlie.

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