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Behind the Work

Inclusion in Sport

Inclusion in Sport

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

March 20, 2020

Chief Creative Officer of Havas Spain, Jesús Lada, on the Santander Campaign that allowed blind and visually impaired fans to “see” football for the first time.

"All of the guys were hardcore football fans, and for many of them, ‘Fieeld’ was the first time they actually could watch football - it was very emotional"

A touching project by Havas Spain for Santander made it possible for blind and visually impaired soccer fans to experience the thrill of the game and “see” their favorite players in action for the first time. The empowering technology, “Fieeld”, is comprised of a thin sheet of fabric, beneath which lies a mechanical arm. Using data gathered from a match, including player positioning and game statistics, the data powers the mechanical arm and allows fans to follow the path of the ball with their fingertips. The campaign, and its two heart-warming videos, is a powerful step towards inclusivity in sport. CCO of Havas Spain, Jesús Lada, chats about how the emotional campaign, which falls beneath Santander’s larger ‘Football Can’ platform, opened up a new experience for passionate football fans.

 

Why was it important to Santander to shine a light on the experiences of blind and visually impaired sport fans?

Well, 18-months ago we created ‘Football Can’, a communication platform for Santander Football. With ‘Football Can’ we try to communicate the power football has when it comes to helping society and individuals grow and prosper. Obviously there is a huge social element to this platform. Last year, we told the story of Mahia, a little girl who is now captain of her team (male team). The ‘Fieeld’ campaign is one more step on our path to being more inclusive.

Can you tell us about the ‘Fieeld’ technology from its concept to development?

‘Fieeld’ is the first device that allows blind people to “see” football. It is technology created and developed by the team at NOW (the innovation and creative technology arm of Havas Spain). To explain, it’s very simple. The technology gathers the data from a match, for instance the positioning of players and the stats of the game, and transforms that data. This data is then used to instruct a small mechanical arm, which replicates the movement of the ball. Blind or visually impaired fans can then track the ball with their fingertips on a football field made of thin fabric, beneath which the mechanical arm moves. 

Why is football a good platform for Santander as a brand?

Santander made a huge investment in Formula 1 for several years. Then they started to sponsor international football competitions like Copa Libertadores, La Liga and finally the UEFA Champions League. They are now the bank of football globally. Santander’s proposition is “to help society and individuals to prosper” and football does that. Of course, there are a lot of negative things around football, but the power football has when it comes to impacting people in a positive way is huge. Football can make your day better, can take you off the streets, can change your whole life and it can even stop wars and that makes it a good fit for Santander.

One of the short films features a twelve-year-old football fan who was born blind. Why did you choose his story as the campaign’s focus?

Nicko is pretty famous in his home country, Brazil. Nicko has an amazing story. He and his mom are incredible human beings, and we thought that, through them, we could show ‘Fieeld’ to the world. It’s funny that months after we shot in Brazil, Nicko and Sonia were named “Fans of the Year” by UEFA. It looks like we chose the best ambassador for the project that we could.

The campaign also includes another emotive video, which captures older football fans with visual impairments experiencing the technology. What was it like for your team to be a part of something like this?

It was an amazing experience. All of the guys were hardcore football fans, and for many of them, ‘Fieeld’ was the first time they could actually watch football. It was very emotional. We replicated famous goals, and they told us that they had imagined them very differently. Even the football field. Some of them never realized the size of it. 

"All of the guys were hardcore football fans, and for many of them, ‘Fieeld’ was the first time they actually could watch football - it was very emotional"

A touching project by Havas Spain for Santander made it possible for blind and visually impaired soccer fans to experience the thrill of the game and “see” their favorite players in action for the first time. The empowering technology, “Fieeld”, is comprised of a thin sheet of fabric, beneath which lies a mechanical arm. Using data gathered from a match, including player positioning and game statistics, the data powers the mechanical arm and allows fans to follow the path of the ball with their fingertips. The campaign, and its two heart-warming videos, is a powerful step towards inclusivity in sport. CCO of Havas Spain, Jesús Lada, chats about how the emotional campaign, which falls beneath Santander’s larger ‘Football Can’ platform, opened up a new experience for passionate football fans.

 

Why was it important to Santander to shine a light on the experiences of blind and visually impaired sport fans?

Well, 18-months ago we created ‘Football Can’, a communication platform for Santander Football. With ‘Football Can’ we try to communicate the power football has when it comes to helping society and individuals grow and prosper. Obviously there is a huge social element to this platform. Last year, we told the story of Mahia, a little girl who is now captain of her team (male team). The ‘Fieeld’ campaign is one more step on our path to being more inclusive.

Can you tell us about the ‘Fieeld’ technology from its concept to development?

‘Fieeld’ is the first device that allows blind people to “see” football. It is technology created and developed by the team at NOW (the innovation and creative technology arm of Havas Spain). To explain, it’s very simple. The technology gathers the data from a match, for instance the positioning of players and the stats of the game, and transforms that data. This data is then used to instruct a small mechanical arm, which replicates the movement of the ball. Blind or visually impaired fans can then track the ball with their fingertips on a football field made of thin fabric, beneath which the mechanical arm moves. 

Why is football a good platform for Santander as a brand?

Santander made a huge investment in Formula 1 for several years. Then they started to sponsor international football competitions like Copa Libertadores, La Liga and finally the UEFA Champions League. They are now the bank of football globally. Santander’s proposition is “to help society and individuals to prosper” and football does that. Of course, there are a lot of negative things around football, but the power football has when it comes to impacting people in a positive way is huge. Football can make your day better, can take you off the streets, can change your whole life and it can even stop wars and that makes it a good fit for Santander.

One of the short films features a twelve-year-old football fan who was born blind. Why did you choose his story as the campaign’s focus?

Nicko is pretty famous in his home country, Brazil. Nicko has an amazing story. He and his mom are incredible human beings, and we thought that, through them, we could show ‘Fieeld’ to the world. It’s funny that months after we shot in Brazil, Nicko and Sonia were named “Fans of the Year” by UEFA. It looks like we chose the best ambassador for the project that we could.

The campaign also includes another emotive video, which captures older football fans with visual impairments experiencing the technology. What was it like for your team to be a part of something like this?

It was an amazing experience. All of the guys were hardcore football fans, and for many of them, ‘Fieeld’ was the first time they could actually watch football. It was very emotional. We replicated famous goals, and they told us that they had imagined them very differently. Even the football field. Some of them never realized the size of it. 

Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.

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