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How Leagues Can Drive Change: Social Analysis of “My Cause My Cleats”

If you were one of the millions of fans that tuned into any of the NFL’s Week 13 games, you would’ve seen a field peppered with custom cleats of all different colors and styles. Over the past months, players worked with Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, and individual artists to create cleats that showcased a cause that was important to them.

Over 500 players from teams across the league participated in the campaign and worked with The Players Tribune to tell the stories behind their cleats.

This event expertly leveraged the massive attention the league already garners to raise awareness for incredible organizations. Using Zoomph, we aimed to put numbers behind that impact. We assessed tweets and Instagram posts in Week 13 that included the hashtag #MyCauseMyCleats and discovered how the NFL tapped into existing and new audiences.

Social Activity Summary

  • Organic Tweets: 57.6K
  • Social engagements (retweets, likes, replies): 136k
  • People reached: 77M
  • Twitter impressions: 2.2B
  • Impression value: $11.4M
  • Top influential teams (based on ZPoints): Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers
  • Top influential players: Aaron Rodgers, Allen Hurns, Calvin Ridley
  • Top Performing Causes: WWP, SOS Children’s Villages

Audience Summary

The weekend’s social conversation around the campaign attracted a slightly higher female demographic compared to typical NFL audiences (30.8% vs 25.6%).
 

Social Media audience comparison between male and female genders

Male fans frequently engaged with tweets from individual players, while female fans often engaged with team accounts posting about the campaign. This is an interesting behavioral trend that speaks to the different types of accounts that male and female fans follow.

The conversation also appeared to have a slightly older audience, with more Gen-X (30.1% vs. 27.4%) and Baby Boomers (7.3% vs. 6.3%) weighing in.

However, college sports fans still tuned in because of the numerous university programs that got involved. MSU Football, Notre Dame, and more tweeted about causes that were closest to them.

Tweet of pair of cleats made to support ovarian cancer awareness

Brand Summary

As this was a campaign focused on raising awareness for causes, much of the NFL’s sponsors took a backseat to the organizations that were being highlighted.

However, the involved brands still saw major benefits from their participation in the campaign. The top tweets from the event mentioned brands like Nike and Adidas, focusing on the shoes that they had created to represent the causes.

The underlying partnerships between brands, teams, and players remained clear without distracting from the overall goal of bringing attention to the selected organizations.

For example, the most-engaged tweet was from Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, which focused on his custom Wounded Warrior Project cleats, while also tagging his sponsored partners @Nike and @Bose.

Instagram picture of aaron rodgers headphones and cleats and New York Giants tweet of players cleats

The Crowd Favorite: Allen Hurns for MakeOurSchoolSafe

While he wasn’t first on our influencer list, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, Allen Hurns, and his chosen cause were consistently mentioned in the top hashtags, words, and accounts linked to MyCauseMyCleats.

We suspect that this has to do with Hurns’ personal investment in the cause—both before and during the campaign—which received media attention, and the care he took to rope in two key organizations into social conversations.

For background, Hurns chose a cause that was very close to home. Since the start of the season, he has worn the number 17 to honor the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in his home state of Florida. During his October bye week, he traveled home to visit with survivors and parents of children affected by the shooting and announced plans to raise awareness in the offseason.

In Week 13, Hurns continued to wear the number 17, along with his custom cleats featuring the names of the 17 victims of the shooting. This powerful display of support received significant media coverage and noticeably increased discussion around MakeOurSchoolsSafe.org and SafeSchoolsForAlex.org.

His tweet was one of the top tweets of the MyCauseMyCleats campaign, and many of the top-mentioned accounts referenced him, the Cowboys, the cause, and/or the Douglas High School shooting.

tweets showing allen hurns cleats and jersey number 17

Our social media analysis showed that the audience he attracted was 1.7 times more likely to fall in the “Educator” category, which is highly reflective of Hurns’ efforts. Given that the need for greater school safety was being discussed and garnering high attention during the campaign, it makes sense that educators would likely make up a higher than average portion of the audience.

Audience comparison showing educator category higher for audience a

Key Takeaways

Overall, the campaign was a huge success for everyone involved, and speaks to the opportunity for similar style campaigns in other leagues and even individual teams.

Encouraging players to choose causes that they feel strongly about and helping give them a platform to bring exposure to the organizations can make a huge impact.

Establishing the right partners, like The Players Tribune, and orchestrating the distribution efforts is important to maximizing reach and awareness of the campaign.

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