Wear Real

Hitch Marketing was commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office to tackle the issue of counterfeit football shirt purchases during the 2022 World Cup. The campaign focused on educating consumers about the distinctions between authentic and counterfeit shirts, as well as the consequences of buying counterfeit products. The primary objective was to significantly reduce the engagement in counterfeit shirt purchases in the lead-up to the World Cup.

The Brief


  • To deliver a range of targeted messaging promoting the message that buying and selling counterfeit football shirts is unacceptable.
  • To educate consumers on the differences between counterfeit and real shirts using product specific information.
  • Increase the social commentary around the subject of counterfeit football goods for the World Cup 2022.
  • To promote the dangers of consumers sharing personal information online, highlighting the poor conditions workers face making counterfeits and how it is funding organised crime.

Target Audiences

  • Males aged 16-34
  • English and Welsh
  • Interested in football


With only seven weeks from inception to delivery, we first implemented a digital tactical assessment focused on social mapping of YouTube. This identified the most popular channels related to counterfeit football shirts including Away Days, Classic Football Shirts, and more. We then used machine learning techniques to review tags, titles and audience profiles.

This information made up part of our rapid desk research and influenced three creative designs which we tested with two focus groups.

Feedback confirmed our intention to not brand the campaign with IPO logo, as this did not land well with our audience, whilst the ‘Wear Real’ concept, slogan and colouring was seen as the most impactful.

We used this feedback to direct our two-pronged approach:

  1. Typographic informative gifs for social media channels.
  2. An influencer led YouTube video covering the objectives of the campaign.

The YouTube video was promoted by an influencer in the football network, Paul Machin, and used a Harry Kane lookalike to compare England and Welsh counterfeit football shirts. This creative idea was the main hook to engage with younger males interested in football and was received positively.

Our dynamic media approach was to run the typography ads a week prior to the World Cup starting and then redirect budget to the best performing ads throughout the tournament. We also took highlights from the Paul Machin video which emphasised key points, and promoted these across TikTok.

Implementation and Results

We have successfully built upon and updated IPO data regarding consumer opinion around counterfeit football kits. Topline results include:

  • 18,557 views on YouTube
  • Increased social commentary from football fans: “Thanks for making a rant about a dry topic (that does matter) into something entertaining and fun.”
  • 3.3 million impressions
  • 2.5 million reaches
  • 20k clicks.

The success of the campaign was measured in more depth in the metric report for the client and included ideas for the extension of the project, using both the qualitative and quantitative data we had gathered, and also explored other ways to reach the target audience possibly through gaming or apps.

A collection of social media screens used in the Wear Real campaign

"Hitch stood out to us with their positive approach and bold creativity for our anti-counterfeit football shirts campaign.

We were hugely impressed by their speed and efficiency considering the short turnaround time and the enthusiasm they maintained throughout the project. Their use of cutting-edge technology to research and test with our target audience provided us with the rationale we needed to report on. And their unique creativity was at the forefront of dynamic social media and video content planning which turned a challenging subject into something engaging and impactful.

The numbers for the campaign are far higher than anything we’ve done before, and it was a pleasure to work with such a positive agency that understands our needs. We look forward to working with Hitch again in future!"
- Miles Rees, Head of Enforcement Campaigns, IPO

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