How does a professional athlete on a poorly performing, small market team build a valuable social brand, and create financial opportunities for himself?
That was the question facing three-time Pro Bowl NFL running back Steven Jackson when we began working with him in 2008. Over the next decade plus, our answers to that question would become one of our greatest case studies to date.
To a knowledgeable observer, Steven was clearly one of the best running backs in the league — he had been to a Pro Bowl in 2006 — but outside of St. Louis, the casual football fan knew little if anything about him. Even the media who covered the Rams locally were unsure what to think of him.
“He’s come from a guy who people weren’t sure who he was or what he represented to being a tower of strength. He’s viewed as a great leader.”
— BERNIE MIKLASZ, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
He needed a strategic plan for reshaping the way he was seen. Starting from no digital presence of any kind, we built out Steven’s social media presences, launched a web site and got to work.
A Week in the Life With Steven Jackson
A Week in the Life With Steven Jackson—a documentary chronicling Steven’s life on and off the field for a single week of the NFL season—transformed the way he was seen. It was also one of five worldwide Webby Awards nominees for Best Online Sports Video in 2011.
- A Week in the Life was featured on ESPN, the Wall Street Journal, the Jim Rome Show, the Scott Van Pelt Show, and numerous other media outlets.
- Armed with the documentary and Steven’s growing social media accounts, his representatives were able to secure a host of new endorsement opportunities.
- Steven’s increasing popularity also helped make him a Pro Bowl selection in 2010 despite St. Louis’ respective 1-15 and 7-9 records.
Save the Running Back
During the 2014-15 offseason, we focused our efforts with Steven focused on solidifying his place as one of the last every down running backs, and a potential member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To that end, we launched Save the Running Back. The running back position — Steven’s position — has become an increasingly diminished and devalued position in the NFL. Our campaign featured Steven as the spokesperson for a fictitious organization and a social media campaign with parody public service announcements.
- The first public service announcement set off a viral explosion.
- ESPN asked for and received permission to run the clip on SportsCenter nationally, garnering an estimated four million views on televisions across the United States.
- It elicited coverage from virtually every major media organization in the first 12 hours, including FoxSports, USA Today, the Washington Post, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, and many others.