Brands get behind campaign to support gay footballers

Brands including Premier Inn, BT Sport and Starbucks are running ads in today’s (8 September) Metro newspaper to show their support for the “Rainbow Laces” campaign, which aims to tackle homophobia in football by getting professional footballers to wear rainbow-coloured laces in their boots. 

All the ads in Monday’s edition of the Metro are from brands who back the campaign in what the publisher is calling an industry-first.

Premier Inn is changing its name to Premier Out in all communications today, while Smirnoff is running an ad saying “We wouldn’t change our recipe but we can change the game” to raise awareness of the campaign. Other brands including Virgin Media, Peugeot and Debenhams have showed their support by highlighting the campaign in their usual print ads and using social media to raise awareness of the campaign.

The campaign originally launched last year through a tie-up between Paddy Power and gay rights charity Stonewall. Once again, every player in the Premier League, Football League and Scottish Professional League, including youth and women’s teams, have been sent packets of rainbow laces in the hope they will be worn during games next weekend (13 and 14 September).

All of the Britain’s 650 MPs and other leading political figures have also been sent packets, while fans and grass-root players are being asked to tweet their support using the official hashtag #rainbowlaces.

A TV ad featuring Arsenal players including Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud is set to air this week. It features the players highlighting things about themselves that they can’t change and is designed to raise awareness of the issues around homophobia.

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, says the campaign is in response to the fact that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still rife in football. The charity says its own research found that seven in 10 football fans have heard or witnessed homophobia on the terraces, while more than 40 per cent believe football is an anti-gay sport.

Of the more than 5,000 professional footballers in the country, none are openly gay, a scenario that the campaign claims has odds of “over a quadragintillion to one”.

Paddy Power says: “We love football but it needs a good kick up the ass.  In many other areas of life, people can be open about their sexuality and it’s time for football to take a stand and show players it doesn’t matter what team they play for.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here