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Briefing

Some briefings are easy to guess. This project is different in every way. We could proudly tell you all about how we came up with this in advance, but we didn’t. The briefing is clear in advance: more recognition for the Edwin van der Sar Foundation and the special work that the foundation does. In all fairness, that worked out. However, it was not in the way we expected…

Approach

Ziggo Sport is interested in the story of one of the biggest successes of Edwin van der Sar winning the Champions League in 2008. Van der Sar blocked the decisive penalty kick in the Moscow rain and heroically gave his club the most important prize in European club football.

We decided to combine the story of his foundation and make a documentary about it for Ziggo Sport. In this way, the foundation generates more recognition and Ziggo Sport has a nice documentary. It goes a bit differently.

Sir Alex Ferguson sick

Our film crew is having breakfast in a hotel just outside Manchester. The previous shooting day with superstar Wayne Rooney went well with whom an important part of the documentary was filmed. The deadline is tight because the project must be on TV on the day of the Champions League final. Our team put in a lot of overnight work to get this done. Now that everything is going so well, it has put everyone in a good mood. Until the phone rings…

Sir Alex Ferguson has fallen ill. There is no way for him to be a part of the shoot. The whole plan falls apart. After all, we had a special storyline in mind, which, miraculously, seemed to actually work out. Sir Alex Ferguson is the Johan Cruijff of Great Britain in terms of stature. He never gives interviews, rarely appears in public. Yet, we had managed to get him thanks to his connection to Van der Sar.

Reunion of celebrities

Our entire plan revolves around the reunion of Sir Alex and the players with whom he made that special achievement in 2008. We have rented a phenomenally beautiful country house where we film the reunion as they watch the competition from ten years ago. None of that will happen, however, because the most successful coach in the history of British football is ill. It is not a simple illness either. What we do not know yet is that he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and is fighting for his life a few miles away at the hospital.

It is almost surreal. The Edwin van der Sar Foundation helps people with brain damage, which is something that we wanted to talk to Ferguson about in the documentary. Now he is afflicted. Weeks later, we find out he has recovered and that he is doing well.

New script, new plot

We manage to create another script in the short amount of time left and finish the documentary. Brain damage has an even more prominent role than it already had. The documentary is amazingly received in the Netherlands, but we think the new story is also suitable for other countries. Through social media, we organize a campaign to let people view the documentary on demand (the pay per view model).

We make personalized videos with the highlights of the documentary for all the celebrities in the documentary. Everyone participates, from Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney to Cristiano Ronaldo. They all spread the mini-trailers; via Instagram, Facebook, Instagram Stories, and Twitter. The organic range runs into tens of millions.

Global interest

Manchester United also wants to broadcast the story, and worldwide TV channels want to buy the documentary. The Edwin van der Sar Foundation is seen all over the world. The power of high-quality content and digital distribution has rarely coincided as nicely as in this case.