It’s not new globally but it is simple, easy to engage and not hard to understand. Will Red Nose Day, May 25, make it to success on this side of the pond as it has for 30 years in the UK? For those who have not seen the ads or watched the promotions especially across all the NBC Universal outlets, Red Nose Day was founded by Jane Tewson and Richard Curtis (writer and director of TV and films including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually). It was created out of the firm belief that the power of mass media and high-profile celebrities can raise awareness of issues of poverty to change and save millions of lives.
It is a campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh. The day’s events will culminate in a three-hour entertainment TV special on NBC featuring the country’s favorite comedians, musicians and Hollywood stars, with viewers encouraged to make donations by phone, and online.
The stars lined up for this year go from Julia Roberts and Bear Grylls showing viewers the impact of their donations, to celebrities challenging themselves on “American Ninja Warrior” to raise funds and awareness. “Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day” at 8 p.m. ET/PT will be followed by a very special 9 p.m. episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls for Red Nose Day” with Roberts venturing to Kenya, leading up to NBC’s third annual “The Red Nose Day Special” at 10 p.m. The three shows will be seamlessly tied together in celebration of Red Nose Day, with calls to action to donate through each of the three programs. This is the first time the night of programming for Red Nose Day has included special editions of existing NBC shows, which is evidence of the network’s deep partnership and commitment to this important initiative.
So…where is sport in the mix? For a simple and actionable campaign, even as the NHL and NBA are in key playoff mode, it would seem that sport, especially those with ties to the families of NBC Universal and Comcast, should or could be a natural fit. In the past Blake Griffin was on board, but this year…meh. How difficult would it be for MLB players or those of MLS to don some noses and share in the viral space this week, especially with a cause tied to young people? There are hundreds of Olympic athletes who could use the opportunity to engage and draw attention, especially as we move toward next winter. On the college side? With spring sports winding down, the amount of attention lacrosse, baseball and softball are getting is pretty high, so using that media to draw some well-placed red noses would have a longer lasting effect than just executing during the regular season of even a few weeks ago.
The campaigns ties to the UK should also give Red Nose Day more awareness to those new to the States, and the ever-increasing interest in soccer, especially as the European leagues wind down, should also make this an easier sell than would have been not too long ago to the casual sports fan. Linking with entertainment also again puts both worlds together, and that combined sports and entertainment push has proved very valuable in the past.
Are there reasons sport would not be involved? Deep playoff runs in hockey and hoops, time and effort committed to other causes, perhaps affiliations with other broadcasters outside of NBC could all be a factor, but for a simple act, donning a red nose and sharing on social, this seems to be an easy one for some enterprising athletes, teams and even a league or two looking for attention (NASL, MLS, Indy Car, WTA what say you?) as we head into Memorial Day in the States.
Teams and leagues, joining the entertainment folks to don the red noses and take a stand together would be strong, even on a busy calendar.