The Catalog

The latest news in sports, entertainment and health,
straight from the Catalyst staff

DICK’S Sporting Goods “Sports Matter” takes home Grand CLIO Award

Catalyst
July 21, 2014

clio-imgAt the CLIO Sports Awards in New York City on July 18, DICK’S Sporting Goods was honored with a Grand CLIO for its groundbreaking “Sports Matter” initiative. This integrated cause marketing campaign was developed to bring awareness to struggles facing youth sports in America and to raise money to support the effort.

The combined efforts resulted in more than $4 million dollars raised for over 180 schools and youth sports organizations across the U.S.

Read the Sports Matter case study to learn more about the success of the program.

Who Has What it Takes to Raise the World Cup?

Josh Green
July 1, 2014

We’ve officially made it from the round robin stage to the “Ground Robben” stage, as in Arjen Robben’s dive seen ‘round the world, which lifted the Netherlands into the World Cup quarterfinals and gave us a few more precious moments from Mexico coach Miguel Herrera. We will miss thee, El Tri, but once again we are reminded that the hand that giveth a water break can also taketh your heart away in the waning moments of stoppage time. And while football can be cruel, it’s never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you (I’m looking at you, Luis Suarez).

It feels like we’ve already seen it all in this truly brilliant global spectacle, but as of Tuesday morning, there are still 10 nations left standing. That means it’s a perfect time to take stock and rank the remainders, 1-10.

#10: Switzerland
I’ve been tough on this squad since they were granted an undeserving top-eight seed at the World Cup draw in December. In truth, there have been some moments of splendor from the Swiss. Questions remain, however, about their ability to compete with the big boys, and they are paired with one of the biggest boys of them all, Argentina. Simply put, the Messi express will continue to roll, and he will put his stamp on another match as he stamps out Swiss hopes.

#9: USA
Is it crazy to think that the stars are aligned for the Americans? The Belgians are bruised, inexperienced and still searching for their top form. Meanwhile, the USMNT is playing with a newfound confidence and vigor. Plus, Jozy is no longer on a vacation far away, and he’s back on the practice field. It’s true that we can’t discount how Germany dominated this squad, and cumulatively the Americans ranked 31 of 32 teams in terms of possession in the group stage. That needs to change quickly.

#8: Belgium
See above. It’s a toss-up. Actually, I think I just talked myself into predicting a victory for the US. Why not us? Why not now? Belgium is undeniably the more talented team, but now is not the time to abandon hope. I BELIEVE!

#7: Costa Rica
It’s impossible to say anything disparaging about Costa Rica ever. They are certainly in contention for Best Country Ever status. Team Pura Vida showed tremendous heart playing a man down against the Greeks on Sunday. Plus, it’s not easy spending 120 minutes trying to fend off all that back hair. We believe in Los Ticos, and they are the true underdog in this bunch. As long as they keep their feet away from Robben, we could be raising a pint of Imperial as we toast Costa Rica into the Final Four.

#6: The Netherlands
The Oranje have already given us the good, the bad and the ugly. Quite frankly, they’re capable of anything, and now they must assume the role the Villains of the Cup. They haven’t been the same since their dismantling of Spain, and they’ll have to find that level if they want to find a way to advance.

#5: Colombia
When your famous fans are Shakira and Sofia Vergara, you’re doing something right. And, in a way, you’ve already won. The Colombians have an attacking style, they like to dance and they have given us the goal of the tournament, off the chest and boot of James Rodriguez. In a way, they’re like Brazil Light. The problem is they draw the host nation in the quarterfinals. I give them more than a fighting chance, but the host country gets the hometown bounce into the semis.

#4: Argentina
We easily could have placed the Albiceleste in the top slot, but there’s a lingering feeling that they are a little less than the sum of their parts. Something seems slightly off, but don’t blame Messi, who has left no doubt that he is the best player on the planet. His performance in the group stage has been breathtaking, but can he carry his team all the way to the Cup. The good news is that, if nothing else, we still get to indulge in our odd fascination with the freakishness that is Diego Maradona. As long as Argentina advances, we will get gratuitous photos of Maradona acting strangely in the stands. Thank you, Diego.

#3: France
Remember that thing I said about it being really hard to disparage Costa Rica? Obviously, France is just like that…but the total opposite. Les Bleus, however, may be the most enjoyable team to watch, top to bottom. Dare I say, they actually seem like they’re having fun? For what it’s worth, Mathieu Valbuena is our favorite vertically-challenged player not named Messi. It will be an epic showdown with Germany. My over-under on bad World War II puns between now and that match is 689.

#2: Germany
It begins with Joachim Loew, the Hasselhoff of World Cup coaches, which by the way is a huge compliment. Don’t hate! Everything about this side is downright badass. They have all the tools, talent and discipline to be the last team standing. If you listen closely enough, though, you can hear the whispers that perhaps they are a little too slow in the backline. Fatal flaw? Potentially. Then again, I have one word for you: Schweinsteiger!!

#1: Brazil
We know they were lucky against Chile, but they always seem to do just enough to play their way out of danger. Even in the most gripping, nerve-wracking match of the World Cup, the Selecao never seem to worry. Neymar is transcendent, the atmosphere for their matches is electric and we love everything about the country. It will take a Herculean – or Hulk-ulean – effort to unseat them. I’m not sure if Brazil is the best, but they will be the toughest to beat.

Social Media Showdown: Brazil vs U.S.

Catalyst
June 25, 2014

The World Cup isn’t just about the teams, it’s about the fans and the brands as well.  We took a look at where and how soccer fans in the U.S. engage on social media and compared it to soccer fans in Brazil.  We found that it’s all about Facebook in Brazil, with the social network being far and away the most consumed overall, and by a nearly 2-1 margin on match day.

usvbrazil-social-engagement

Getting animated on Twitter

Steve Hall
June 19, 2014

Nearly 30 years after Compuserve invented the animated GIF, it’s finally hitting its stride.  This week Twitter announced that the service would now support animated GIFs in tweets.

The format, already ubiquitous on tumblr and on around the web, now has a foothold on social media.

What does this mean for brands?  It’s another tool in the toolbox.  A powerful tool.

Images increase engagement on Twitter.  Animated images will be expected to deliver even more impact.

 

 

 

 

The Eyes of the World: Brazil, Here We Come

Josh Green
June 11, 2014

We are in the midst of the greatest global spectacle in sports, and 32 countries are gleaming in the optimistic “this could finally be our year” glow.  Actually, make that 31 countries, since Team USA coach Jorgen Klinsmann has already declared that Uncle Sam’s side has no chance to capture the Cup.  Thanks, Coach.

If Jorgen is the anti-hero of World Cup 2014, the early MVP is everyone’s favorite Ghanaian witch doctor, Devil of Wednesday.  The esteemed doctor has claimed responsibility for doing what every man on the planet has often dreamed of: making Christiano Ronaldo a little less pretty.  Apparently, Doc Devil chose a literal interpretation of the phrase “knockout stage,” putting a spell on Ronaldo’s knees, introducing the possibility that one of the best players in the world may not be 100% for the opening round matches.

With that in mind, it is time for a group-by-group preview of the World Cup.

 

Group A:  Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Cameroon’s Lions of Africa are getting long in the tooth, and that will likely be the only thing lengthy about their World Cup experience.  A decade-plus of singular brilliance has taken its toll on Samuel Eto’o, and Cameroon’s seventh all-time World Cup appearance (most for an African nation) will be an unfulfilling one.  The host country is the clear class of this group, and anything less than a World Cup championship will leave the locals searching for something to cheer them up.  Luckily, they live in Brazil, where cheering-up-ness is the nation’s best natural resource.

The real intrigue in this quartet lies in the battle for second, between Mexico’s El Tri and Croatia.  With its penchant for in-fighting, drama and characters named Chicharito, if Mexico were a TV show, they would be a telenovela.  Croatia wins the award for hardest last names to pronounce in this group, but it remains to be seen if their stingy defense is enough to shut down Mexico and advance to the round of 16.

 

Group B:  Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Let’s begin with the Australian Kangaroos, who likely have already plotted out their Copacabana pub crawl route.  The most likable team in the word will certainly make the most of their idle time in Brazil – and they’ll have plenty of it.  The headline matchup in this group is Spain vs. Netherlands, a rematch of the gripping 2010 World Cup Final.  In truth, though, these are two squads heading in opposite directions, as the Spaniards remain a top title contender, while the Dutch appear to have lost a bit of their edge.  The Dutch Oranje has a tendency to put its best forward on the big stage, but Chile will be nipping at its heels.  Expect a home-continent boost for Chile’s La Roja, who advanced to the knockout stage in South Africa and are poised to thwart a European one-two punch in Group B.

 

Group C:  Columbia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Unlike Groups A and B, this one is ripe for the taking, as all four countries have a legitimate shot to advance.  Unpredictably is nothing new to Ivory Coast.  Les Elephants have the most talent on the African continent, but the pieces never seem to fit in the World Cup.  Columbia burst onto the scene with a scintillating qualifying run, but they lost superstar Radamel Falcao to injury along the way.  Columbia and Japan will seek to push the pace with aggressive play, while Greece will pack it in and rely on its backline to carry the day.

 

Group D:  Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Look no further than Group D for the most intrigue in the opening fortnight of the tournament.  It may not be the Group of Death, but the presence of England and Italy ensures a fair degree of carnage.  For years, Italy’s Azzuri have held their hat on a sleep-inducing defensive system, but thanks to the dynamic play of front liners like Mario Balotelli, they have finally embraced a more open, attacking philosophy.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of Uruguay. La Celeste can ball.   Often overshadowed by their Argentine and Brazilian neighbors, Uruguay is poised to make some magic.

 

Group E:  Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Say hello to the Group of Shame. Most pundits agree that FIFA’s decision to rank Switzerland as a top eight overall seed is as unfathomable.  The head-scratching decisions also extended to France, who benefited from the governing body’s odd decision to reclassify the final two European qualifiers (of which France is one) and thus provide them with a golden road to round two.  The French have proven that they are capable of imploding at any moment, but they really have to work hard to mess this one up.  That said, one of their top snipers, Frank Ribery, will miss the tournament due to injury, introducing yet another element of instability to this group.  Ecuador will look to capitalize on some home-continent good vibes, and they just might have enough to steal a slot from the top dogs, Switzerland.

 

Group F:  Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Dysfunction, thy name is Group F.  With apologies to the French, no one fails as spectacularly as Nigeria and Argentina.  While the Argentines have rid themselves of the buffoonery that is Diego Maradona, it is unclear what measures the Super Eagles have taken to erase the scandal-plagued flameout of 2010.  Nigeria is the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champion, and this may be their best chance this century to claw their way out of the group stage.  This group belongs to the majesty of Messi, but Nigeria will gladly play second fiddle.

We shouldn’t discount the potentially powerful political messages sent by Bosnia and Iran, whose presence in the World Cup speaks to the idealism of the event.  That said, they appear to be on the outside looking in, with Argentina and Nigeria prepared to seize control of the Group.

 

Group G:  Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Let’s all say it together:  Group. Of. Death.  It will take a lot more than the Devil of Wednesday to knock the Germans off the top perch, which leaves a three-way fight for second place.  Ghana fully expects to once again crush American dreams for the third straight World Cup, and their opener with the US will be a doozy – and may very well determine the ultimate configuration of this group.  The US, meanwhile, remain a somewhat nondescript collection of disparate parts. Dempsey, Bradley, Altidore and Howard are familiar names that can alter a match, but Coach Klinsmann’s footprint is indelibly stamped on this squad, and no one quite knows what that means.  Advancing out of this group seems like a tall order.  Portugal appears to be a more viable threat, and assuming full health from Ronaldo, we should expect some genuine moments of brilliance in Brazil.

 

Group H:  Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

Featuring a collection of goal scorers, and a trendy sleeper pick to advance all the way to the Finals,  Belgium appears to be in no jeopardy of conceding this group.   Perhaps no team enters the World Cup with as much anticipation and hype as the Belgian Red Devils.  The remainder of the group lacks identity, with Russia a perennial puzzle and South Korea hoping to scrap its way into second place.  Algeria is a team on the rise and would be a feel-good entrant into the knockout round.

 

After the group round, it will be a mad dash to the finish.  All signs point to Brazil advancing to the Finals, but I’m all in with a South American shocker special:  Uruguay over Brazil to win it all.

 

The Force of Farce

Steve Hall
June 5, 2014

Getting people to listen to your message isn’t easy. Getting your audience to remember it and to care about it is even harder. Convincing them to act on it is the holy grail of communications.

Writers and performers learned thousands of years ago that satire can be effective.  Egyptian scribes used irony and exaggeration. Greek playwright Aristophanes mercilessly targeted politicians and philosophers with his comedies. The middle ages had Chaucer.  The Victorian era saw the rise of Dickens and Twain.

There is one major tool that modern satirists have at their disposal though, that their predecessors lacked: the internet.  The same technology that has arguably allowed keyboard cat to be better known than the Vice President of our country, enables skilled communicators to amplify their message around the world, in minutes.

The modern master of the satirical art form is the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.  For 15 years he has delivered sharp rebukes of politicians, the media and society in general.  His pieces are pointed, but with a point.

His show has berthjohn-olivered a bevy of talented performers including Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilborn. The most recent of this offspring is John Oliver, host to HBO’s Last Week Tonight.

Five weeks into his run as host, John Oliver’s brand of comedy – closely modeled after Stewart’s own – has scored a huge hit. He delivered a scathing 13-minute long rebuke of the FCC’s proposed changes to net neutrality.

More than a million people watched John Oliver’s rant on-air, and his YouTube video has been viewed over two million times.  The average view time is over eight minutes – an eternity on the internet.

The comedian has taken an issue that would normally cause most people to tune out, and instead captures their attention for an extraordinary length of time. He turned a serious issue into a serious laughfest, and the public listened.

John Oliver concludes his video by asking internet trolls, as well as regular viewers, to use their powers for good, and send a comment to the FCC.  They did. Tens of thousands of people flooded the FCC site with comments, taking it offline in the process.

Call-to-action?  Engagement?  He nailed both.

Oliver says “…if you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” He understands that when you keep people entertained (and laughing), then you keep people listening.  And when they’re listening long enough, then they start to care.  When people care, then they act.

And action? That’s the ultimate goal of any campaign.

Raven’s Run

Josh Green
June 4, 2014

Josh Raven Run.JPGSpending Memorial Day weekend in Miami, I found myself in the midst of sports greatness.  I was witness to someone who continues to redefine the game and remind us what it means to be a champion.  A physical marvel who shows up every day and holds himself and his running mates accountable, even when his legs/knees/back are barking to sit one out.  The undisputed King of South Beach?  Yep, he’s got my vote, and thousands of others as well.

I’m not talking about LeBron James, although rumor has it he’s done quite well in Heat’s march to a seemingly inevitable third straight title.  As a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, I have a shameful habit of becoming queasy whenever I watch LeBron and the gang eviscerate their opponents.  As such, I needed to find an alternate South Florida sports hero who could help me rediscover the purity of sports. Thankfully, I knew exactly where to look.

After years of close calls and I’ll-do-it-next-times, my girlfriend and I finally drew a line in the sand and took part in our first Raven Run.  The rules are simple:  show up at the Fifth Street lifeguard stand at 5:30 PM and run eight miles.  The Raven will be waiting for you.

The Raven is Robert Kraft, a truly unique comic-figure-come-to-life kind of guy who has run eight miles of South Beach shoreline every single day for the past 39 years.  Every single day.  That’s 115,000 miles and counting.  While severe spinal stenosis (and impending surgery) and arthritis have robbed him of his speed and have forced him to endure considerable physical anguish, the mind still operates at a world-class level, with the Raven able to recall the names and mile totals of everyone who has joined him on his daily journeys.  He keeps a running tally – no pun intended –  of the most accomplished Raven participants and is quick to remind you where you rank on that list.

Raven Run.jpgIt is true that the Raven, now in his mid 60’s, never forgets a face, but he also anoints every runner with a nickname.  And you’d better hope it’s a good one, because there’s no outrunning a Raven moniker.

Each Raven Run begins with a roll call, with the host gathering the horde and, in his velvety baritone, reciting the nicknames, and the backstories behind those nicknames, of that day’s runners.  Raven Run participants are then free to traverse the eight miles at their own speed.  First-timers, however, are best served shuffling along at the Raven’s pace, enabling you to soak in his life story – and just as importantly, improve your chances of receiving a suitable nickname.

Raven’s run may be coming to a temporary end soon, as the debilitating back pain isn’t getting any better.  Whenever that day comes, he will be celebrated, and he will be missed.  And while the Raven might very well be the most recognized and admired man in Miami Beach, he is always saving room for a new running partner, even if it’s just for one day.

LeBron can have his championship parades in the streets of Miami, but we know who really runs South Beach.  Every day is a victory lap for the Raven, and for those who are fortunate enough to be along for the ride.

For more information about the Raven Run, visit ravenrun.net.  And if you happen to make it to the lifeguard stand on 5th and Ocean, tell him that “On Time” sent you.

 

National Running Day is Wednesday, June 4.  To honor Raven and all those who inspire others through running, share your story with #IMARUNNER.

DICK’S Presents Baseball Gear In Action

Catalyst
April 10, 2014

DICK'S Sporting Goods Baseball Gear In ActionDICK’S Sporting Goods continues to be on the forefront of creating innovative ways to showcase their products, which has never been more evident than in their new video-driven baseball experience, Gear In Action.

Catalyst worked with Viget to produce a responsive, interactive video experience for personal devices and in-store touch screens. More than just a new take on a video player, Gear In Action is an interactive and engaging product-driven platform that supports DICK’S 2014 Baseball Campaign.

The site has been honored multiple times, including “Site of the Day” from both the FWA and the Awwwards.

How To Become Internet (in)Famous

Steve Hall
April 8, 2014

In case you missed it, yesterday the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team won the NCAA Tournament.  Arguably, the bigger news of the day was from Derek, an RA at the university.  He took it upon himself to proactively tell his fellow students that the game didn’t mean much, and not to get too excited about it.

Unsurprisingly, the letter went viral.  Since yesterday, “Derek the RA” has racked up over 14,000 mentions on twitter.  That’s impressive for a brand, let alone for an ambitious resident advisor.

Twitter Volume, April 2nd – 8th
Brand & Term Mentions
“Derek the RA” 14.5k
Burger King – #WatchLikeAKing 10.9k
Unilever – #TournamentDecisions 10.2k
Allstate – #MarchMayhem 1.8k
Coke Zero – #ProveIt 1.8k
New York Life – #KeepGoodGoing 1.1k
UPS – #DeliveringWins 0.4k
LG – #DoGamedayRight 0.2k
Northwestern Mutual – #PlanningForSuccess 0.2k

Even real sports outlets got in on the action, with SportsNation accounting for nearly a tenth of the volume.

 

The moral of this story? In today’s world of smartphones and social media, carefully craft your message….or you can instantly become (in)famous – like Derek.

Spring Into The Hot Links

Catalyst
April 7, 2014

The Hot LinksSpring has sprung, the weather’s warmer and we’re all moving more.  Take advantage of the season, grab your tablet and head outside to read some of these recent articles from the worlds of PR & Communications.

What have you been reading?

 

Case Study: Bringing an Event to Life with Live Video