Standard Chartered and Liverpool FC:
"Play On"

As part of Standard Chartered’s focus on gender equality in sports, and the brand’s sponsorship of Liverpool FC’s men’s and women’s teams, Octagon was asked to develop a campaign that not only strengthened the important global spotlight on women’s soccer, but also served to inspire, empower, and educate girls to continue to participate in sports.

Octagon research discovered that 94% of women in C-suite positions played sports through their teens, but twice as many girls than boys quit sports by the age of 14.

As a result, Standard Chartered and Liverpool FC have made it their mission to raise awareness and invest in this issue. Countless brands are part of an effort to sponsor girls in sports, but their unique role is to empower girls in life through sport.

We worked with Standard Chartered to leverage its relationship with Liverpool Football Club, including the longest-running front-of-shirt sponsorship in Premier League history, to use partnership rights more creatively, developing a big idea with true purpose, which used the power of sport to tackle the societal issue at a global scale.

Our research discovered that girls quit sports typically due to stigmas imposed by society. Girls dropping out of sports is a concern to us all, and by featuring elite male players in the “Play On” campaign, Standard Chartered and Liverpool showed that everyone – from the top down – has a responsibility to support and encourage girls to play on. It also showed that the players were aware of the issue, it mattered to them and girls around the world could feel seen by the players they look up to.

Leveraging the talent and rights they have with the properties included in their LFC sponsorship with maximum impact, the “Play On” campaign had more shock value than simply using footage of players talking about the issue: It put the actual words of young girls quitting football into the mouths of globally recognized football stars. The added bonus was that it also communicated to the world that men could be important allies on this issue.

We helped Standard Chartered and Liverpool FC create a four-year campaign plan to drive awareness, which includes research and execution. We shocked fans all over the world by showing Liverpool FC players “quitting” football for the same reasons young girls hang up their boots. Launched in May 2023, our multi-part content series included four episodes, “I Quit,” “Topper,” “Team Talk,” and “Klopp Q&A,” which used the rights and talent to speak pointedly about the reasons girls drop out of sport and its ongoing impact.

The first spot in the campaign, “I Quit,” features prominent Liverpool FC players Jordan HendersonThiago AlcantaraDiogo Jota, and Harvey Elliot in what appears to be an everyday post-match interview. However, the players ultimately shock fans all over the world by announcing they’re quitting soccer/football, by citing common reasons why girls typically drop out of sports.

We created a crucial cut-through moment by using Liverpool FC stars to effectively dramatize the ongoing issue. The “Play On” campaign includes both TV and digital content, as well as print and experiential elements, which were featured on mainstream media platforms and generated major buzz across social media.

The campaign raised awareness of the issue across major European markets and generated so much interest that Octagon has already continued our work with Standard Chartered to further develop the larger “Play On” initiative. The initial campaign created male advocates within the Liverpool FC Men’s Team, which in turn funded more paid research. Standard Chartered followed up this awareness phase by also hosting a “Play On Women’s Cup” tournament in Korea.

With a media spend of less than $200,000, the campaign achieved over 150 million total impressions with 70 million completed video views, as well as a 67% engagement rate. The “I Quit” film was also played in its entirety on the UK’s top-rated “This Morning” TV show to reach wider audiences.

We used the global reach of Liverpool FC to further highlight the issue to their 135 million supporters and to engage football fans around the world.

By taking an important, emotive subject and harnessing the global pull of Liverpool FC, Standard Chartered and the Club have taken a huge step toward making the world aware that girls need everyone’s support to “Play On” so they can achieve their full potential.

To learn more about the “Play On” campaign, click here.