January 27, 2021

Changing the conversation with influential voices

Following the release of their co-produced documentary 'Micah Richards: Tackling Racism', talent & influencer marketing agency, New Stance, reflects on the power of persuasive voices to be a positive influence and drive change in society.

When it comes to tackling systemic racism, silence is not an option. We will all be remembered for our actions during this pivotal moment in history. New Stance believes in the power of persuasive voices and characters to be a positive influence and drive change in society.

Micah Richards: Tackling Racism is a powerful documentary co-produced by New Stance that gives a platform to the former Premier League and England footballer as he explores the true scale of racism in British football, and what can be done to fix it. In the film, Micah meets people from across the football spectrum that are making a difference themselves, as well as those that are speaking out on how a difference can be made in their fields.

At grassroots level, we meet Imrul Gazi, manager of Sporting Bengal United FC, a community team in Mile End that was set up to challenge the underrepresentation of Asians in Football, as well as a father-son duo who have created an inclusive community for Birmingham city supporters after suffering hate speech from their own fans.

Stoke City Women’s head coach Alena Moulton shares her experience of discrimination twice over as a black woman, and her hopes to widen access to management for future generations. On the other hand, former England player and manager Gary Neville gives an honest reflection on how he has been complicit in racism himself, notably by not speaking up in support of teammates or telling players undergoing racial abuse to ‘focus on the game’ instead. As one of the most recognised names in British football, Gary is now using his voice to advocate for change.

Speaking to anti-racism campaigners from Kick It Out on their efforts to challenge discrimination, it is clear that we must move beyond raising awareness to focus on delivering education. Gary Neville echoes this during his example of holding a Kick It Out banner before one game per year and then not thinking about racism again for another 12 months. This is why we must move away from performative action – especially if you want to make an impact.

Following the broadcast, the response on Twitter showcased how “eye-opening” and enlightening people found the film and the #TacklingRacism hashtag was filled with thoughtful reflections by people of all ages, races and genders. Having an engaging figure like Micah Richards not only pulled in viewers but added an intelligent voice to help drive the conversation. Micah even went beyond the 60 minutes of broadcast and hosted a Q&A on Twitter and Instagram, responding to fans asking what they themselves can do to combat racism.

To get to the heart of this issue New Stance had to invest beyond advertising and 30-second campaigns. By creating an educational and investigative piece, rather than simply another awareness film, they were able to connect with the audience by driving a deeper understanding and help to push the conversation further. The results uncover relevant truths, creating an opportunity for both action and inspiration.

The lessons in Tackling Racism are clear. Education is still key to tackling racism. Social media companies need to become more vigilant in regulating hate speech online. Change needs to happen from the top – starting with the diversity of boardrooms, newsrooms and football associations. Brands in the sport also need to take action as in many cases they carry power over their partners.

Research shows that more than half of global consumers believe that brands can do more to solve social issues than governments – all it takes is to look at Marcus Rashford to see how this can be true. We expect more from our brands and with nearly two-thirds of consumers preferring to purchase from purpose-driven brands, it’s becoming increasingly essential that brands are prepared to be held accountable.

As we celebrate the individual voices in this film having a positive influence in their communities and fighting the status quo, brands must find their voice and activate with purposeful content that aspires to make a difference and drive results. Today’s social issues are no longer banners that can be picked up and dropped once a year. How you show your stance must be authentic and consistent but most of all it must add value.