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Respect starts small


Nationwide Building Society



Positive Provocation

Our powerful campaign promoted Nationwide’s message of Mutual Respect through the FA partnership, tactical media activations across TV and social media which contributed to a 37% uplift in female grassroots players since the start of the UEFA Women’s EUROs 2022.


Since 2019, Nationwide has been the official partner of The FA Respect Programme and the England team, promoting respectful behaviour amongst under 18s on and off the pitch in 100,000 grassroots clubs across the UK.

The 2022 UEFA Women’s EUROs tournament led to unprecedented interest in women’s games. But there was a problem.

There was increasing misogyny and disrespect in women’s football. More women than ever were reporting unwanted physical attention and abuse at matches (up 150% in 2021 vs 2014), and HerGameToo, a voluntary organisation run by female fans, reported a staggering 91.9% of supporters had seen sexist abuse online targeted towards women in football.

How could Nationwide live and breathe its brand values and challenge disrespect in the game, without detracting from the joy the tournament would bring to the nation?


It was clear ‘the beautiful game’ brings out both the best and the worst of society, so our approach had to balance light and shade too. We had to celebrate football and connect with a mass audience who would never consider themselves abusive. But we also couldn’t shy away from instances of disrespect, as and when they happened. Nationwide’s partnership with the FA looked to foster respect at a grassroots level, but research showed a disturbing normalisation of abusive behaviour especially among younger fans.

We decided to focus on a specific subset of football fans – parents of young children. If we could highlight the issue to them through the experience of a child, it would strike the strongest chord.

With a limited budget we focused on just two channels: TV – where families come together to celebrate sport, and unrivalled at driving an emotional reaction at scale, alongside social media, especially Twitter – the home of football conversation but unfortunately often where abuse occurs.


Coinciding with the Women’s EUROs tournament, we launched an emotive 60” TV ad featuring 11-year old female football player Aysia, talking about receiving abuse on the pitch and the impact it had.

We hand-selected the biggest shows for parents, such as Bake Off: The Professionals, and extended onto outdoor TV screens broadcasting the games in major UK cities, harnessing moments of mass togetherness.

In conjunction, we executed a powerful, if discrete, intervention on social media to pre-empt and prevent disrespect during the tournament. We partnered with Twitter and Social Database to build audience pools of football fans, including those with a history of being ‘vocal’ on the platform. We then targeted them during the heat of the games, with handwritten notes from young female players and fans, reminding them to be respectful and kind. As far as we’re aware, no one else has ever been brave enough to do this.

Finally, as tweeted by football royalty Rio Ferdinand, we ran a bespoke campaign with WeAre8, the new, no-hate social platform. Using our interview with Sarina Wiegman discussing the importance of respect, we urged users to sign Nationwide’s Mutual Respect pledge. Each signature became a £1,000 grant available to those in grassroots football.


The Mutual Respect campaign, has driven and continues to deliver an impressive result for Nationwide Building Society.

young footballers reached
uplift in female grassroots players

Growth Stories