Physical inactivity has become a pandemic that is literally killing people. Experts have presented an abundance of evidence that proves a direct correlation between our growing sedentary lifestyles and cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
For the EU, this became a public health issue too large to ignore. Especially when the 2014 Eurobarometer survey showed a significant decline in physical activity in Member States. In response the European Commission (EC), DG Education and Culture, launched the first European Week of Sport (EWoS) to inspire citizens to #BeActive.
The European Commission challenged us to create a campaign that inspired a cultural shift towards healthier, active lifestyles – both in attitudes and behaviour. We needed to roll-out the campaign across 31 countries, and reach an incredibly diverse audience. The European Commission was keen to avoid a top-down, centralised campaign that would struggle to connect with citizens. Instead, the idea was to empower sport bodies at national and regional levels to support the campaign and motivate the public.
When the EC engaged us on this project, we were delighted. First, because we believe in EWoS’s mission, and second because the conditions were ripe to create a real social movement. Promoting sport and healthy lifestyles is a positive solution to this health crisis that all people can relate to and get excited about. In contrast with European policy initiatives on migration or tax, sport is an easier sell.
Our strategy relied on winning support from established and influential multipliers to distribute campaign content and engage citizens. This involved partnering with sport bodies at national and regional levels as well as organisations including UEFA, Eurosport, EOC, FESI and EuropeActive. We also succeeded in securing high-profile sportspeople to become EWoS Ambassadors, including footballers Steven Gerrard and Clarence Seedorf, marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, Olympic javelin thrower Tapio Korjus, and table-tennis ace Jean-Michel Saive. All were key to boost campaign credibility and visibility.