When Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish tapped us to promote the Boston Scholar Athletes, we knew the perfect project had fallen into our laps. Just two years old, the BSA is a fantastic nonprofit organization that offers professionally staffed, onsite Zones in all 19 Boston public schools. Facilitators and volunteers work together to provide struggling students with tutoring, computer access, SAT prep and the motivational support it takes to succeed — in class, on the field and in life.
The result has been transformative: student athletes are improving their grades to remain eligible to play, they’re 25% more likely to graduate high school, and on average they’ve boosted SAT scores by 150 points. A program like this relies on donations, which is where Bluefish comes in. By increasing awareness, the BSA can better reach out to the community to support its cause. This is how we helped…
An important project like this deserves intelligent research and analysis. We started with four Zone visits and interviews with facilitators, tutors and students. An online study revealed what the BSA means to students. Similar local and national nonprofits were also reviewed. Our findings show that the BSA offers support, a positive nurturing experience, and a way to set and achieve goals – things not available to these kids elsewhere. This became the basis for our BSA positioning strategy and tagline, “Play to Achieve.”
Once the direction was set, our creative team fine-tuned campaign ideas for billboard and print. Hard-to-ignore visuals, bold messaging and emotional appeal came across in all approaches, but “I Got Game” resonated the most and was declared the winner.
Having the right photographer is essential to a campaign reliant on visuals. We selected Christian Kozowyk for his strong sports portolio. Featuring student athletes selected by the BSA, photography was shot at two Boston public schools during a quiet weekend. Christian captured both the vulnerability and the confidence we were striving for.
With billboards pointing to the BSA website, that meant a quick revamp of bostonscholarathletes.org to tie into the spirit of the campaign. Along with campaign photography, short quotes allow the students themselves to tell how the BSA is making a difference in their lives.
With the BSA’s first annual gala scheduled just as the billboards were going up around Boston, the client asked us to help bring some flavor of the campaign to two videos that would be shown at the event. We thought this was the perfect opportunity to let the students speak up — nobody can explain better than they can how the BSA is helping them to achieve.
Director Paul Canney and crew spent a Saturday with us at Jeremiah E. Burke High School capturing interviews with BSA students. The videos were masterfully edited at Accomplice and audio mixed at Soundtrack.
Voiceover: BSA founder and Suffolk CEO and Chairman, John Fish.
The energy was high. Why wouldn’t it be, this was the Garden! BSA students greeted event-goers as they entered through a mock Zone. On the Jumbotron: visuals from the campaign. During dinner on the floor of the arena, the lights came down and the presentation began. Mayor Thomas Menino spoke, as did John Fish, who collaborated with Menino to found the program. BSA Executive Director Rebekah Splaine Salwasser spoke to the organization’s stellar results, followed by the videos we created. Exciting. Inspiring. Moving. Perfect way to close out a perfect project.
One last thing to add: if you want to feel your adrenaline run, watch your work on a Jumbotron. It’s pretty great.
Read more about the big night here.