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Interactive Annual 16:

Nike Chalkbot

Launch Movie

“A very interesting use of existing mediums to turn roads into the equivalent of a meaningful Twitter feed.” —Brooke Nanberg

“Beautiful synergy between Web, social, mobile and ambient media. Efforts to integrate digital with real life events often come off as gimmicky, but this is a perfect fit for the LIVESTRONG brand.” —Rachel Pasqua

Overview: Chalking the roads is a Tour de France tradition during which spectators write messages of encouragement to their favorite riders. LIVESTRONG and the Lance Armstrong Foundation embraced the idea of using the road as a canvas; as part of Nike’s Open Roads project, boxes of yellow chalk were handed out at the Tour of California and at select LIVESTRONG events, encouraging people to chalk messages of hope in the fight against cancer. The Nike Chalkbot was a way to take positive messages to the Tour de France. By sending a message to the Chalkbot through Twitter, SMS, Web banners or, people around the world were able to make their mark in yellow.

  • • During the Tour, a team of six operated the Chalkbot— agency producer, art director, CTO, software engineer and two hardware engineers—and averaged twenty-hour production days for a month.
  • • Over the course of a month, the Chalkbot gained over 4,000 followers on Twitter, received over 36,000 messages of support and inspiration. Over 13 stages and several thousand miles of the Tour de France more than 5,400 messages were chalked, tagged with GPS coordinates and photographed—photos and GPS data were sent to the writers of the messages.

Comments by Marcelino Alvarez, Adam Heathcott and James Moslander

How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on in the past? “Chalkbot was unlike any other project. We weren’t creating a brand new community on a site or a Facebook page for the sake of commerce, a product launch or the latest TV spot. We were utilizing social media as a pragmatic tool to connect with an existing community that already has a strong voice online. We were giving this online community a physical podium to greater express their fight to an even larger audience in a collaborative way. Nike’s main goal for our campaign was to increase awareness of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, livestrong and the fight against cancer.

“Early on in the project, someone said that cancer had one degree of separation; everyone knows someone who has been affected by the disease. Through the back window of the truck every day, we couldn’t shake the intensity of seeing this huge line of yellow messages that we had received from around the world, winding its way through mountain passes, farmlands and cities. Everyone who saw the messages, whether on TV, Twitter or in France, became a participant. People could read each of the individual messages and take in their strength, wit and clarity, or take a step back and see what everyone had become a part of: an enormous physical representation that we aren’t alone in this fight against cancer. Through the Chalkbot, we created a physical forum for the livestrong community to spread their own message in their own words, far better than we could have written on our own.”


Adam Heathcott/James Moslander, art directors
Marco Kaye, writer
Mark Fitzloff/Susan Hoffman, executive creative directors
Nathan Martin, chief creative officer
Greg Baltus/Jim KettererMark Sibenac/ Scott Tomasic, engineers
David Evans, technology director
Justin Lowe, editor
Marcelino J. Alvarez/James Stranahan, directors of photography
Rob Mumford/Rehanah Spence, studio artists
Jeremy Lind, interactive producer
Patty Brebner, post production producer
Marcelino J. Alvarez, executive integrated producer
Sarah Starr, production manager
Peter Lindman, retoucher
Joint Editorial, editorial company
Legion-Media, production company
Aaron Brechbill, fabricator
Deeplocal/Standard Robot, project design and development
Wieden+Kennedy (Portland, OR), ad agency
Melissa Schoenke, Nike, client

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