Missing Sports? These Classic Plays Are How You Fight a Pandemic
Muhammad Ali's powerhouse "Rumble in the Jungle" knockout of George Foreman. USA Hockey's miracle gold-medal run. Kirk Gibson's stunning World Series homer. The California Gold Bears' epic win over the Stanford Cardinals thanks to a wild kickoff return known simply as "The Play."
As stadiums stand empty amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of creatives has assembled footage of these amazing performances—which rank among the most dramatic comebacks ever—and created "We Pull Together," a testament to winning in the face of overwhelming adversity.
This 90-second film anchors the project:
Over archival footage and frequently breathless play-by-play, copy begins, "We're facing an opponent unlike any we've seen before. And if we let it, it will beat us."
We see Ali against the ropes, Team USA facing defeat, the Dodgers seemingly doomed, and the Bears apparently destined for defeat.
Suddenly, momentum shifts. The Greatest lands staggering blows; Eruzione and company heat up the Olympic ice; manager Tommy Lasorda sends Gibby to the plate as a pinch hitter; and Kevin Moen laterals a pass to Richard Rodgers, setting "The Play" in motion.
"We rally. We pull together," the ad says. "Americans fight back. And that's exactly what we're going to do now."
On screen, crowds lose it and rock their respective arenas, drowning out the broadcast announcers as the winners celebrate. "We can do this," the video concludes. "We can beat COVID-19. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay home."
Potent stuff, from a different playbook than most previous sports-minded social distancing appeals, suggesting we dig deep and, in the true American spirit, kick some viral ass.
Freelance creative directors Craig Miller and Matt Denyer led project development.
"Matt and I were working together about 10 years ago on a sports client, and had a similar idea that never went anywhere," Miller tells Muse. "But the idea just kind of stuck in our in our heads, and it seemed so appropriate for this moment. So we got a team together to make it happen."
Completing the roster: freelance video editor Dan Aronin, composer/musician Adam Elk of Storefront Music, Mutant Inc. founders Carl Corbitt and Anja Duering, and Acoustech Music sound engineer Gopal Swamy.
"The idea seemed especially timely considering how sports have pretty much all been canceled or postponed," Miller says. "Sports can provide incredible inspiration, and that's missing right now."
The target audience is "anyone who might have lost a bit of their spirit or resolve," he says. "We're constantly bombarded by news about our failure to contain this thing. So, we wanted to remind people of times when Americans have succeeded against all odds, and inspire them to keep following the guidelines."
The clip lives on a website that highlights "folks who are doing amazing, selfless things to help us all pull together, despite social distancing pushing us apart," Miller says, encouraging users to submit examples.
"There's zero paid media," he adds. "There's no client. It's not an ad, so to speak. We're just some ad industry people who wanted to use what we do for something good. At this point, we're simply sharing it ourselves through our own personal social media. We're hoping people will pass it around to help inspire each other."
Miller and crew didn't secure rights to the footage, but they're hopeful that the project's good intentions will carry the day.
"We may still get a cease and desist," he concedes. "But we're not making any money on it. We're not selling anything. We're just encouraging people to keep up hope and keep fighting. So we're keeping up hope that no one has a problem with the way we've used it."
Never count out the underdog!