Responses by Jason Norcross, executive creative director/partner, 72andSunny Los Angeles
Background: We had the first-ever opportunity to help bring the world of sports together to recognize and honor frontline hospital workers in a way only sports can. Our audience was hospital workers, athletes and sports fans—in other words, the people being honored and the people who could do the honoring, as well as amplify and scale the effort.
Reasoning: Many companies and people had begun to thank frontline workers—deservedly so. But, very few healthcare workers were being acknowledged as individuals. So, we thought that was a great chance to flip the script in this two-minute PSA: have athletes become the fans and honor these “real heroes” by renaming their jerseys.
Challenges: Working with fourteen sports leagues, coordinating with some of the most famous athletes in the world, producing dozens of videos with the help of Hecho Studios, coming up with a name and identity and getting the building blocks for a big social campaign in place in a couple weeks were all challenges. But, because all the leagues and athletes were unified in support of the idea, it went pretty smoothly. Even getting Beyoncé to participate was relatively simple because she believed in it. So, the biggest challenge became making sure we were prepared to help athletes identify healthcare workers to honor if they didn't have a personal connection to somebody on the frontlines, which took a lot of research and legwork until we discovered 6ftcloser.com. Then, it became easier.
Favorite details: The simplicity of renaming the jerseys because it is something that’s so true to sports. And because the gesture of not just giving away your jersey but also renaming it in someone else’s honor is a personal, sincere and compelling gesture that strikes a chord with frontline heroes who deserve all the thank-yous and praise they get.
Visual influences: Obviously jerseys. Just about every sport has one—or some version of a jersey and uniform. And the act of giving away a jersey is a sign of respect. Plus, the action of taping over one name and writing in the name of a frontline healthcare hero is simple, straightforward and easily repeatable, which is the trick to making something that is inherently social and scalable.
Time constraints: We had to get the idea out into the world in time for it to matter, as frontline workers were still facing an onslaught of cases. And we also wanted to get out in time to launch on National Nurses Day to further ground the campaign and give it more of a reason for launching when it did.