When he was 20, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott lost his mom to colon cancer. Footwear artist Jake Danklefs was 29 when his dad died of the same disease. This shared bond informed their recent collaboration through the NFL's "My Cause My Cleats" initiative, raising awareness of colonoscopies to facilitate early cancer detection.
Prescott offered design ideas to honor his mother Peggy, and Danklefs created a pair of cleats to meet those specifications. Dak donned the colorful, customized Air Jordans on Dec. 4 in the Cowboys 54-19 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts.
"Dak's mom loved Betty Boop, and that's what inspired the main design," Danklefs tells Muse. "We added pink around the back of the shoe with hearts and 'MOM' in the Boop font. Also, the 'MOM' also stands for 'mind over matter.' We added the eyeball with the lashes—and the swoosh is redesigned with the curls of Boop's hair."
The rest of the shoe is tricked out in Cowboys blue and silver, with shimmery hearts in the toe box. Royal blue laces signify colon cancer awareness, and the logo of Prescott's nonprofit Faith Fight Finish Foundation adorns the tongue.
The NFL launched "My Cause My Cleats" in 2016 to give players a platform to hype causes close to their heats. Cowboys sponsor Baylor Scott & White Health and Launch Agency helped develop this year's campaign.
This film chronicles the Prescott-Danklefs team-up from their first Zoom call through the ideation process and the emotional unveiling of the shoes:
"Through their sponsorship of the Dallas Cowboys, BS&W expressed interest in being involved in the 'My Cause My Cleats' initiative this year," says Launch Agency account director Jason Giles. "We knew it would be beneficial to try and secure a well-known customizer in the sneaker community. So, Launch Agency reached out to Jake Danklefs to gauge interest—unaware of his link to colon cancer with the passing of his father. We shared his desire to create a cleat to raise awareness with the Cowboys, who matched us with Dak."
He adds: "Once they were matched, we realized how their mutual connection was the thread that would tie it all together, and it became the center of our message."
Pushed wide on social during the past week, the project generated considerable coverage, with mentions by NBC News and Sports Illustrated, among others. The effort recalls September's "Lead From Behind," in which Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney brought cameras to their colonoscopies to encourage folks to get screened.
More recently, Reynolds raised funds for SickKids hospital in Toronto, wearing an ugly seasonal sweater voiced by Seth Rogen.
Client: Baylor Scott & White Health
Directors: Andy Mahr & Ashton Rodgers, Charlie Uniform Tango
Production Company: Charlie Uniform Tango
Photographer: Andy Mahr
Principal/Creative Director: David Wilgus, Launch Agency
Principal/Creative Director: Diane Seimetz, Launch Agency
Creative Director/Art Director: Brian Dedering, Launch Agency
Creative Director/Copywriter: April Steinbach, Launch Agency
Associate Creative Director: Caleb Alba
Account Director: Jason Giles, Launch Agency
Assistant Account Executive: Lucy Galloway
Producer: Jaime Roderer, Dogtails Media Lab
Producer: Michael Wagner, Charlie Uniform Tango
Editor: Rodney Demeglio, Charlie Uniform Tango
Colorist: Joey Waldrip, Charlie Uniform Tango
Graphics: Gray Wilcox, Charlie Uniform Tango
Sound Design: Jake Kluge, Charlie Uniform Tango
Music: Atomica Music
Ben Day, Director of Creative, Baylor Scott & White Health
Tyson Stuart, Brand Manager/Sports Sponsorships/Digital, Baylor Scott & White Health
Kristn Owens, Director of Consumer Marketing/Brand Strategy & Planning, Baylor Scott & White Health
Robin Kraase, Brand Planning + Strategy, Baylor Scott & White Health
Megan Doss, Marketing Producer Creative & Brand Management, Baylor Scott & White Health