Xylem - Water Heroes Academy

Wanting to build on a number of influential awareness campaigns with long-term partners Manchester City, Xylem teamed up with SPORTFIVE to turn awareness into action through the 'Water Heroes Academy' initiative.


Global water technology and services leader Xylem is on a mission to inspire change in the public perception of water challenges, and are using their partnership with City Football Group to make it happen. 

First working together in 2018, the pair have created a number of awareness campaigns which have brought water issues to the forefront of football fans’ thinking. 

Wanting to build on this, Xylem Watermark (the company's CSR programme) teamed up with SPORTFIVE to turn awareness into action, by creating a programme which can empower and equip people to take action in water-related initiatives in their communities.


Water Heroes Academy was first launched on World Water day in 2021, as a series of youth-led projects were formed in five cities around the world. The initiative has since grown to positively impact communities in 25 cities across five different continents.  

Each project seeks to deliver education on a water issue which is particularly prevalent in its community, with academies being provided with funding, training, mentorship and access to an innovative football-based water education curriculum. 

Wanting to utilise the gripping story around Water Heroes Academy to spread awareness, educate and engage City Football Group's fanbases, a comprehensive marketing campaign was formed. 

This multi-channel campaign included social media, email, web, app and the club’s membership portal, signposting fans to a dedicated campaign hub to find out more and vote for their favourite project. The social media campaign stretched across Meta, X, Yahoo and TikTok, and, in 2022, saw Manchester City become the first football club to activate on WeAre8, ‘the social media that pays it forward’.

The impact of Water Heroes Academy

  • Local Education

    By delivering vital education on water, sanitation, and hygiene in 25 different locations, all badly affected by water-issues, the initiative provides young people with the knowledge and skills needed to directly impact and improve their communities.

  • Fan Engagement

    The initiative engaged Manchester City’s global fan base by spotlighting each academy location and their related water issues, providing a dedicated landing page featuring, competitions, information and supportive content to show how fans can help tackle the issues.

  • Local Empowerment

    Through empowering young leaders with training, knowledge and mentorship related to the water-issues found in their communities, they are able to build local awareness and help foster community-focused solutions to water challenges.

  • Global Awareness

    To create global fan awareness of the different water issues faced in each location, the Water Heroes Academy initiative was supported by a comprehensive marketing campaign through Manchester City’s digital and social media channels.


The Water Heroes Academy initiative is a great example of how partnerships in sport can go beyond brand awareness and visibility, and deliver tangible impact. 

Across the initiative's three years, more than 380 young leaders have been empowered to educate and activate 16,250 children in 25 water-challenged locations, sharing Xylem’s innovative water solutions in communities across five continents.

Outside of the local impact, the initiative’s multi-channelled marketing campaigns have generated over 167 million impressions, 65 million views and 16 million engagements across social media, as well as delivering over 3,8 million emails. 

These activities have seen the most recent campaign raise awareness for the Xylem brand by more than 42% (YoY) amongst the partnership’s target audience. 

Together, these metrics and the initiative as a whole continue to contribute to Xylem and Manchester City’s wider partnership objectives.

+ 16,250

The Water Heroes Academy initiative has empowered a global network of +380 young leaders to deliver life-saving water awareness and education to over 16,250 children in 25 cities.

  • + 167 M

    Impressions across social media

  • + 65 M

    Video views across social media

  • 16 M

    Engagements across social media

What's in it for you?

Some of the world’s biggest organisations, from almost every industry, rely on partnerships in sports to help grow their brand. Sport’s truly universal appeal, coupled with its ability to bring together people from all walks of life, make it the perfect platform for businesses to communicate through.

Meaningful activation

Through building a partnership based on shared values, SPORTFIVE have helped Xylem and City Football Group craft a solution which has benefitted both parties. From identifying the partnership and helping to conceptualise its strategy, to activating, developing and bringing campaigns to life, our work has helped bring Xylem’s mission to the forefront for football fans around the globe. 

As the world’s leading global sports marketing agency, SPORTFIVE works alongside the biggest brands to activate their partnerships in sports. This has seen us help the likes of LEGO Group, KitKat, ASOS and Mitsubishi to create meaningful activations that resonate with their audience.

If you want to find out how we can help your organisation grow through sport, reach out to: [email protected]

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