The idea was by AS Roma head of strategy, Paul Rogers, who was "obsessed" with US rock band Soul Asylum's video for Grammy-winning 1993 hit song Runaway Train which featured missing children
Italian Serie A football club AS Roma has helped find five missing children through an innovative social media campaign which involves new player announcements.
The idea was by AS Roma’s head of strategy, Paul Rogers, who told BBC Sport he was “obsessed” with US rock band Soul Asylum, whose video for their Grammy-winning 1993 hit song Runaway Train featured missing children.
“We had built up quite a sizeable social media presence and going into the summer transfer window, we thought we had an opportunity to do something more meaningful,” Rogers told BBC Sport.
“Football on social media can be quite toxic at times, and we thought we could do something that is the antithesis of that and could be embraced by all sorts of fans.”
The club owned by Boston, US-based James Pallotta, which the club confirmed on 20 November is on the verge of being sold, features 109 cases of missing children in 72 different videos on social media channels in 12 different countries.
Since 30 June, five children have been found to date: a girl, 8, and boy, 13, from Kenya, two teenage girls from London and a boy from Belgium.
Through working with Maryana, two Kenyan children featured in Roma's videos have been found safe. We pray the other kids will be found 🙏 pic.twitter.com/jgEhVUyMmC
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 8, 2019
AS Roma has 16 million social media followers and Rogers was able to get the US-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and Italy’s Telefono Azzurro, a charity for the prevention of child abuse and neglect, on board.
“One of the things they said which struck me was, ‘most brands try to distance themselves from something like this because missing children is a very sensitive subject and maybe you don’t want to be associated with it’,” said Rogers.
“We said we wanted to help 100%. We felt that even if no children were found, we could still raise awareness of the cases, the issue of missing children and the organisations doing that work.”
The campaign quickly grew and now AS Roma works with British charity Missing People, Spanish charity SOSDesaparecidos, Kenyan charity Missing Child Kenya, Greek charity Smile of the Child, Child Focus from Belgium, Missing Children Society of Canada, Alerta Alba-Keneth in Guatemala and the governments in both Argentina and Ecuador.
AS Roma’s missing children videos were viewed more than nine million times across their social media channels, having worked alongside 12 organisations across the world, including the US, the UK, Italy, Spain and Kenya. The campaign will continue if the club make any new signings in January’s transfer window.