Italian football team AS Roma has put its weird and wonderful social media tone on ice as it uses its prominence and reach to help search for missing children.
The club is using its summer signing videos to put a spotlight on missing people to use its online presence for social good. It is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States and Telefono Azzurro in Italy to help generate the publicity to bring missing children.
Every signing will be used globally as a means of reuniting families. The drive features Italian and American teens, but Roma is in talks with a British charity to extend the scheme.
It has partnered with non-profits The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Telefono Azzurro; these form part of the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN), an international group that helps government agencies and non-profit organisations across five continents work find missing and abducted children throughout the world. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children alone assists with more than 25,000 missing children cases in the US every year.
Below is the signing video for Juventus wingback Leonardo Spinazzola.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Official: Leonardo Spinazzola is now a Roma player.<br> <br>This summer <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ASRoma?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ASRoma</a> will use each transfer announcement video on social media to help raise awareness about the search for missing children globally.<br> <a href="https://twitter.com/MissingKids?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MissingKids</a> ❤️ <a href="https://twitter.com/telefonoazzurro?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@telefonoazzurro</a> <a href="https://t.co/sy9GheDhsg">pic.twitter.com/sy9GheDhsg</a></p>— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) <a href="https://twitter.com/ASRomaEN/status/1145459826232832011?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 30, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
But the campaign draws inspiration from an unusual source. Paul Rogers, head of strategy at AS Roma, said: “The idea for the new transfer announcement initiative actually came from reading an article about the 25th anniversary of Soul Asylum’s ‘Runaway Train’ video, which famously highlighted actual cases – with photos and names – of children missing at the time.
“Taking inspiration from the use of milk cartons to display a photo of a missing child in America, the band’s video director Tony Kaye decided to use the medium of a pop video played on MTV and music channels globally to try and help find 36 missing children. In the end, I think they helped locate 21 children.”
He noted there were four versions of the music video made, two for the United States and one each for the UK and Australia.
“With Roma, we thought, we could try and do something similar but updated for the social media generation. 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.”
Ernesto Caffo, president of Telefono Azzuro, added: “We are thankful to AS Roma for creating this opportunity to shine a light on the serious issue of missing children, a cause that too often receives little coverage in mainstream media.”
Seven children were featured in the first transfer announcement.
Tammy Flores, 15, Victorville, CA
Ork'o Frisancho, 20, Baltimore, MD
Ssamali Kwatia, 10, Lake Bluff, IL
Steven Campbell, 10, El Paso, TX
Alessia Vere, 14, Saint Sulpice, Switzerland
Karim Dhahri, 14, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Elena Ramponi, 5, San Lazzaro di Savena, Italy
Known for its humour, AS Roma club has previously shown that it is willing to cross the line and subvert expectations. The Drum interviewed Rogers about this phenomena in 2017.
On transfer announcements, he said: "Let’s do stuff that a football club wouldn’t be expected to do. Let’s mock the whole thing and go weirder and weirder and weirder.”