Cannes Lions

Baseball

MULLENLOWE U.S., Boston / CHANGE THE REF / 2021

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Case Film

Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

In the summer of 2020, Major League Baseball teams allowed fans to buy cardboard cutouts of themselves and have their images occupy seats in stadiums during games. We wanted to use this unique opportunity to make a powerful statement and generate attention around the issue of gun control and the politicians who ignore it. So, we partnered with gun violence awareness organization Change the Ref to sneak one lifelong baseball fan into 15 stadiums he’d never get a chance to see again.

Idea

There’s nothing better than going to a baseball game on a warm, summer day. Unfortunately, Joaquin Oliver will never get to experience that joy again, because Joaquin was murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting. In a partnership with Change the Ref, we helped Joaquin visit 15 different Major League Baseball stadiums as a cardboard cutout in an effort to shine a light on gun control. Timed to run right before the US elections, this idea cost approximately $1,000 to create and garnered over 2 billion media impressions.

Strategy

Our strategy was simple: share this deeply compelling and important story with as many national and local broadcast stations, newspapers, and digital outlets as possible, because the overarching goal was to spark conversation and insight real change, rather than just generating a high volume of media coverage.

We encouraged press to cover or share the creative work on social media - which told the full story behind Joaquin’s ballpark cut outs - and offered Joaquin’s parents and Change the Ref founders, Manny and Patricia Oliver, for interviews to tell this story more impactfully.

We looked for ways to leverage cultural newsjacking and timely media relations to insert this creative campaign into baseball, sports, and national news outlets that cover gun reform. In addition to focusing on national outlets, we homed in on the markets where Joaquin’s ballpark cut outs were placed, which helped us generate blanketed coverage for the campaign.

Execution

From August to October, Joaquin’s cutout made it into 15 different ballparks across the country. A video was also posted to YouTube covering the activation, which got 1.1M views.

Outcome

Joaquin’s story got picked up by Good Morning America, ABC News, Los Angeles Times, ESPN News, MLB.com and Yahoo! Sports. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team joined in, placing Joaquin’s cutout in the front row of their stadium for maximum visibility. Several Major League Baseball players shared the campaign on social, including Oakland A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo. Additionally, an anonymous doner donated $30,000 to Change the Ref.

The campaign in total garnered over 2B media impressions and created national conversation around the gun control issue and the need to vote out the politicians who ignore it. And most importantly, it was a poignant reminder that our children are made of flesh and blood, not cardboard.

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