Italian football team AS Roma has announced that it has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States and Telefono Azzurro in Italy as part of a drive to use its social media channels to raise awareness of missing children in the two countries.
Roma has built a reputation as a social media innovator in recent years, particularly with regards to its summer signing announcement videos, which have frequently gone viral for their off-beat style and, in 2018, intentionally bad use of photoshop.
This summer, the Serie A club’s signing announcements will take the form of videos featuring the photographs, names and details of children who are currently missing across the US and Italy, with the hope that someone may recognise them or have information about their whereabouts.
Each signing will be accompanied by two videos – one highlighting missing Italian children, the other American teenagers – shared on the relevant club accounts, in a move which the club’s head of strategy Paul Rogers says is intended to use “social media for social good”.
The first video, announcing the singing of Leonardo Spinazzola from Juventus, was posted yesterday (Sunday) evening, and highlighted seven missing children cases, three from Italy and four from the United States.
Official: Leonardo Spinazzola is now a Roma player.
This summer #ASRoma will use each transfer announcement video on social media to help raise awareness about the search for missing children globally.
@MissingKids ❤️ @telefonoazzurro pic.twitter.com/sy9GheDhsg
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) June 30, 2019
Rogers added that the idea was inspired by an article about the 25th anniversary of the music video for Soul Asylum’s ‘Runaway Train’, which highlighted real cases and helped to locate 21 children globally in 1994, thanks to airtime on MTV and other channels.
“With Roma, we thought, we could try and do something similar but updated for the social media generation, which didn’t exist when Soul Asylum released their video,” Rogers explains. “We have a massive social media following and our announcements generate incredible reach and awareness, all over the world, so we thought that at the exact moment when the world’s attention is on the club’s announcement, we could use our social media channels not for self-promotion but rather to help both the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Telefono Azzurro find missing children.”
John Clark, chief executive and president of NCMEC, added: “We were delighted to be contacted to work with AS Roma on this project. It’s an incredible initiative and a very innovative way to help tackle a universal issue.
“NCMEC sees first-hand the importance of not losing hope when it comes to finding a missing child. We know that children come home after days, years, and decades of being missing. We depend on organisations like AS Roma to spread awareness and use their voice for change. We could not be prouder of AS Roma for spreading awareness on a global scale.”
The club has confirmed that it is currently in discussions with a British charity about expanding the initiative across Europe.
Earlier this year, Rogers spoke with SportBusiness Professional about how he devised AS Roma’s “fan-first” social media voice, highlighting the importance of being human on social media and not simply posting corporate or promotional messages.