How to draw a crowd in the age of social distancing.
The annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration would have reached hundreds of thousands at ballparks this year. COVID-19 made that impossible, but true to Jackie’s own indomitable spirit, this year’s event persevered to reach millions of fans around the country.
Nobody saw this coming. No one’s business model included a “stop everything, put it all on hold” contingency plan.
For sports leagues to Broadway, restaurants to book publishers, and in countless other industries, what was expected to be happening…simply isn’t.
We have faith that, in time, these companies will be able to resume their activities. But what do you do if you are the kind of entity with a major annual event that drives your public engagement for the year—and that event essentially gets canceled because of the global pandemic?
Specifically, we’re talking about The Jackie Robinson Foundation and their annual celebrations on April 15th. Per tradition since 2004, all Major Leaguer Baseballers wear his officially retired uniform #42 that day. This special day has become a platform for the JR Foundation to educate thousands of young people about civil rights and Jackie’s legacy of stepping up to the plate. A series of well-orchestrated multi-city events make it a big day in baseball, and a big day for America.
But the pandemic led to the cancelation of baseball. Which, led to the cancelation of the educational celebration. Which, in turn, led to…
The foundation deciding to replace the live event with an online digital experience.
They made that call on April 1st. And we’re proud to say they made that call…to Bartley & Dick. Now, candidly, it’s a big challenge to sprint from concept into copy writing, visual design and technical development then launch it to audiences around the country. The Jackie Robinson Foundation had a great starting point with an education guide made for print, complete with content ready to shine online.
Two weeks to design and launch the online experience. We didn’t blink.
Projects like these take a good client-agency relationship to start and then make it even better through a little sweat equity. The Jackie Robinson Foundation led by example as a hell of a teammate, and so with a handful of twilight design, coding and editing sessions—we made it happen.
Here’s a few words about the project from our friends at the Foundation:
“The team at Bartley & Dick is one you want in your corner, when you have a project that has to get done quickly and well. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jackie Robinson Day celebrations that take place every April 15th at venues across the country had to be virtual this year – with only several weeks’ notice. We asked Bartley & Dick to create an online experience that would engage and inspire families around the heroic life of Jackie Robinson. The result was a sensational product that should have taken months. They’re visionaries with heart and soul – even when working at a breakneck pace.”
– Franny Kent, Director of Educational Programming for the Jackie Robinson Museum
The result was an new website, JRLegacy.org, a rich educational experience complete with downloadable worksheets, trivia games, video clips, testimonials, and a wealth of fascinating facts.
Here’s a look a the new site:
While it’s truly a shame that the live event had to be cancelled, the results have been inspiring for the future:
The annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration would have reached hundreds of thousands at ballparks, this year’s digital execution was able to reach over two million users online.
We look at this experience as a model for jumping over hurdles, sprinting toward your goal and turning obstacles into opportunities. (And frankly, it’s the kind of work that really gets us up in the morning.)
Clearly, this isn’t a time for business as usual. There’s just no usual right now. But if you need to move forward in the face of unexpected challenges, we hope you’ll see our work for The Jackie Robinson Foundation as a great example of how that can happen.
Be well. Be safe. And be in touch should the need arise. We’re here in our digital dugout, ready to help your digital initiatives reach major league success.