NFL Players, United Way Embark On ‘Live United’ Drive

The appearance of NFL players in United Way of America PSAs has become as much a part of football telecasts as instant replay. But this season, which marks the 35th year of the partnership between the NFL and the United Way, the gridiron stars will have a bigger role in the integrated campaign, “Live United.”

The effort, created pro bono by McCann Erickson, New York, includes TV, radio, outdoor, print and Internet in English and Spanish. Other marketing elements will include more than 286 million impressions of donated online banner ad space on, and appearing starting this week and running through Sept. 25. Also, the United Way will be the only advertiser to appear on during Sept. 1 with public service announcements featuring people telling their story about how they “Live United.”

There will be dozens of players appearing in this season’s collection of United Way spots, typically one from each NFL team, according to United Way. Santana Moss of the Washington Redskins, Donte Whitner of the Buffalo Bills and Bob Sanders of the Indy Colts will be in ads specifically for the ‘Live United’ campaign.

‘Live United’ is part of a brand position strategy unveiled in May in conjuction with The Ad Council, New York, with the slogan, “Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.” The outreaches will sharpen focus on matters dealing with education, income and health.

“Our goal is to create long lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of problems” said Melvin Young, vp-marketing and strategy at the United Way of America, Alexandra, Va. “Live United is all about soliciting an invitation to Americans to join us in this movement and to be part of the change.”

The initiative is part of a 10-year effort to cut by half the number of high school dropouts, reduce by half the number of low-income families that lack financial stability and increase by one-third the number of youths and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behavior.