Ecuadorian financial services outfit Banco Pichincha, the main sponsor of Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito football team (LDU), launched an at-stadium campaign to promote gender inclusion and equality in sport by staging a football match with a twist – there were no players.
The bank worked with its Quito based football club partner and agency MullenLowe Delta on a project which took place in Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito’s stadium.
The ground was filled to capacity for a Serie A men’s match, but during half time the ‘Unseen Players’ game kicked off with only three referees and a ball on the pitch.
The fans in the ground watched on as an ‘invisible match’ unfolded with a ball controlled by a radiofrequency device (developed by Argentinian outfit PASTO) moving as though it was being kicked, with fouls, free kicks and goals – but without any players.
The fans were initially intrigued and surprised, but excitement grew as the game played out and the fans began cheering the invisible team building to a big goal celebration.
Following the half-time game, a message from LDU skipper Belén Aragón appeared on screens around the stadium reading: “Like this match, there are 234 matches that very few people see. It is very important that together we promote gender inclusion and equality in sports”. After her speech, the men’s team welcomed the ‘white warriors’ forming an honour guard on the field, applauded by the supporters.
“As LDU supporters and as women, we are constantly looking for opportunities to promote gender equality,” explained Banco Pichincha Advertising Manager María Augusta Tutilillo. “This was short but striking activation made a powerful statement and we hope will really make a difference for women’s sport.”
MullenLowe Delta General Creative Manager Marco Salvador added: “Data was key for generating the idea. It was shocking to find out that most of Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito supporters are women. This helped us to see a great opportunity to bring the LDU women’s team to a new audience and connect with fans in a meaningful way.”
The initiative was created for Banco Pichincha’s marketing team led by Marketing And Communication Manager Jorge Chamorro, Advertising And Promotion Manager Maria Augusta Tutillo and Customer Manager Carolina Ortiz by Mullenlowe Delta.
The agency team which worked on the project included Chief Creative Director Carlos Oviedo, General Creative Director Carlos Cabrera, Creative Director Marco Salvador, Copywriter Marcelo Baez, Art Directors Ricardo Lopez, Andrés Córvova and Danny Mármol, Account Executive José Martucci, Account Manager Juan Borrego, Planners Ximena Quintero and Tahnee Farfán, Account Supervisor Susana Loor, Media Specialists Julian Babativa and Diego Isaza, PR Executive Veronica Vásconez
This Ecuadorian is an inventive initiative drawing attention to the lack of equality and visibility of women’s football from a banking brand which has a long history of sports sponsorships.
In terms of results, according to the agency the initiative generated 1.5m impressions in the 90-minute match and 25m social impressions in total, with US$500,000 of free press during the 90-minute game and overall media amplified the campaign by 850% (including coverage of TV, online and print mainstream and sports media titles such as Bendito Foutbol, El Comercio, ESPN, Expresso, Fox Sports and TA) and it was also seen live by the 45,000 fans in the stadium.
It also dovetails with other Banco Pichincha initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality which range from its recruitment policy and business lines, to its brand values and marketing.
The bank was the first company in Ecuador to become a signatory to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles and was a pioneer in the Financial Alliance for Women which supports initiatives focused on women’s financial growth and awareness of their important role in the economy. Plus, Pichincha develops as series of finance programs for women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.