Luis Felipe Rios: Switching Leagues For A Great Cause
By Alixandra Rutnik Posted on Jan 28, 2022
Behind the scenes with One Club Member's viral campaign that tripled donations for The League Against Cancer
If there is one thing that I've observed with my dad and brother , it's that if you're a fan of soccer, your ears perk up at the merest whisper of news. And if the story is a big one? Oh boy, you can't tear them from their phones, tablets and TVs, trying to get the full scoop.
And this is exactly what One Club Member and copywriter Luis Felipe Rios tapped into with his team at VMLY&R Lima in order to get people talking about The League Against Cancer, a charity that, like so many others, had struggled through the pandemic.
We talked to Luis about working on this viral campaign "The League Among all Leagues" and ultimately how they put The League Against Cancer back on the map in Peru with the help of a national star and a juicy announcement.
What is your working relationship with The League Against Cancer?
This is actually the second campaign we have done for The League Against Cancer. My mentor and Creative Director met someone in their marketing team years ago, and they called him in 2018 to do a Testicular Cancer campaign when we were at JWT.
When they called us again, my Creative Director told us the problem the league had and we all decided to work some extra hours to make the project happen. Everyone in our team has lost someone to cancer detected in the late stages. I lost two of my grandparents to cancer, helping them stay in the fight is one of the proudest things I have done.
When your client came to you with the lack of exposure and funding issues, what were some of your original brainstorming ideas to cure their problem?
When we received the brief, my teammate Fernando Guerra and I tried to make an approach on the context here in Perú. There were three trending topics: political outrage, the pandemic, and football. Our first approach was on political territory– we were thinking about using the eliminated politicians' billboards as our own for The League Against Cancer. Since the election is only one week, and they have to rent them for several months, those billboards were just standing there. As we walked this path, it turned out that it was a way to make some impact without any money, but it wasn’t really something that people would talk about.
That’s when we decided to look at another territory. Since the pandemic was already part of our problem (because the lockdown is what put The League Against Cancer in bankruptcy), we decided to look at football. The question we made to ourselves was, “how can we connect the football conversation to cancer?” While repeating The League Against Cancer several times, we realized that it had the same word as in our main football league, “The League.” What a coincidence, we said.
But it turns out that there are other leagues with the word league in their names. The top in our minds was The Champions League, The Premier League, The National Football League, The Major League Baseball… as we looked on the internet, there were many more, not only in football/soccer but in many sports. Then, the question was, “how do we get people to talk about our league?” And the answer was, “just like the sports ones do– with a scandal involving a player.”
“The question was, 'how do we get people to talk about our league?'And the answer was, 'just like the sports ones do– with a scandal involving a player.'”
So, for this campaign you had the famous Peruvian soccer player André Carrillo announce that he was going to play for a new league, making The League Against Cancer go viral. How did you get André on board?
We were not sure if André would agree to be in on the scandal since it could get some people mad. So, the team contacted his manager and others from two different soccer players. Only Carrillo’s manager replied. Both of them wanted to be on board since they had relatives with cancer.
We told André the idea, just one story for 24 hours where he claimed that he was getting ready for a “new league,” right after he won the Arab Championship. André laughed a lot– he could already imagine how his fans in Dubai would react, but what he wasn’t expecting was for the world to notice it too.
Is there a secret to making something go viral?
I don’t think there’s a secret, the truth is that if you find something that is relevant (like football) or something that is impressive (like Moldy Whooper, a truly great example of a viral campaign), the world will notice it. Many people are out there trying to become viral, some TikToks and posts do, most don’t. It is a matter of trying. And for a campaign, when you hold yourself to something that is already relevant, there’s got to be a connection with the message in order to make the impressions from the intrigue become useful. In our case, it was the fact that Carrillo wasn’t lying, he signed with a league, The League Against Cancer.
"I don’t think there’s a secret, the truth is that if you find something that is relevant (like football) or something that is impressive (like Moldy Whooper, a truly great example of a viral campaign), the world will notice it."
Right after the story was online, our PR team shared it to some local newspapers without saying a thing– they just sent the story. After 30 minutes, many people in Dubai were getting angry about the story and some newspapers started speculating about the story. When Libero began talking about it and then ESPN, that’s when the campaign went all around the globe and we couldn’t control what was happening. Those first hours when the story was shared, and when people started speculating, is what made this amazing. This project was a one shot only. We are preparing a new campaign for the 2022 national fundraising, but it is not necessarily going to be held on the Carrillo campaign. The impact has already passed.
What was the most rewarding and the most challenging part of building this campaign?
After 12 hours passed with the story online, that’s when we all got scared because many news channels shared the story, but others started speculating about where Carrillo could go. Some talked about Spain and England. André even called us because he was starting to get threads on Instagram from people in Dubai. He decided to stay at home until the story passed and he told the world the name of the league.
The speculations spread like wildfire and we were not able to keep track of the full conversation. That was a scary moment, we thought that if the scandal became too hot, Carrillo’s message announcing the name of the league wouldn't be interesting enough and nobody would talk about The League Against Cancer.
Thankfully, the threads transformed into hearts, and every media outlet that took the bait and speculated shared the message where Carrillo fooled everyone and revealed the name of the league. The media invited people to join our league as volunteers and to donate to keep the fight against cancer going.
Again, we were not able to keep track of the rebound from the message. During the campaign, I went to the clinic for a routine check, and they were transmitting Carrillo’s invitation for everyone to join the league on every TV in the clinic. I saw those people who were impressed with the idea, and some even signed as volunteers on the web right in front of me. We recorded over six billion impressions, but I know that we had a lot more, since we couldn’t keep track of everything, like what happened there in the clinic. That was the most rewarding moment I’ve lived. That and the fact that the campaign ended up tripling the donations.
What do you enjoy about your One Club membership?
I love being around so many impressive people. I try to attend as many events as I can, like the portfolio nights. It is amazing to meet new people, especially more experienced creatives that are willing to share their knowledge. Being part of The One Club, as a young creative, is one of the richest experiences I have lived in this online experience because of the lockdown.
What is coming up for you in 2022?
Personally, I want to graduate with my Master’s degree and have more time to focus on my photography. There are some social projects I’ve been trying to finish and publish. Professionally, my goal for this year is to win a One Show Pencil and make another great campaign for an NGO like The League Against Cancer. Those two are my objectives for this year, and hopefully, I’ll be able to achieve both with the same shot.
"Professionally, my goal for this year is to win a One Show Pencil and make another great campaign for an NGO like The League Against Cancer."
- CLIENT: Peruvian League Against Cancer
- AGENCY: VMLY&R Lima
- CEO: Eduardo Grisolle
- ECD: Tin Sánchez
- CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Eduardo Meza
- CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Carlos Fernández
- CREATIVE COPYWRITER: Luis Felipe Rios
- ART DIRECTOR: Fernando Guerra
- GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Renzo Zapata
- ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Anna Achata
- CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR: Sara Roif
One Club for Creativity Members get featured here on the One Club website and across our social media channels. Have a new project you'd love to share? An upcoming exhibition and you'd like us to help spread the word? Drop us a line at email@example.com. We always love to know what our One Club Members have been up to, so don’t forget to send us your cool work!