A small Catholic school in Jersey City, N.J., had a big problem. St. Anthony High School had created academic miracles for decades, providing underprivileged students a launching pad to graduation and acceptance to college. Yet somehow, the school was consistently on the brink of closure as it struggled to meet the financial needs required to supplement costs for each student’s education.
St. Anthony has a secret weapon, though. It’s home to the most successful high school basketball program in the history of the United States (26 state titles and counting). The program is led by parole-officer-turned coach, Bob Hurley, Sr., also widely known as the father of former Duke hoops legend Bobby Hurley. Through a combination of tough love and discipline, Coach Hurley transforms lives on the basketball court. In 40 years of coaching, all but two of his players have gone on to college, a stat even more compelling when given its context: the high school graduation rate in Jersey City is around 30 percent.
What should have been the school’s greatest marketing success, however, was its greatest branding challenge. To donors, the basketball program conjured the image of a well-funded, successful, private, state-of-the-art Catholic prep school. Yet, Hurley had led the school’s on-court triumphs without even having its own gym, weight room, or training facilities. Not as well-funded as it would appear, right?
TeamWorks Media created the documentary film The Street Stops Here as the centerpiece of a marketing strategy designed to build an audience that would get involved and raise funds to keep the school and its basketball program open for education on and off the court. We leveraged our media relationships to secure primetime distribution for the documentary on PBS and ESPN and created home video and digital distribution relationships with Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. The film became a tool for our marketing, PR, and social media teams to tell the school’s story through media coverage, events, and corporate sponsorships.
“Through their beautiful film, TeamWorks Media connected our story with millions through TV, events, PR and social media. They built a community of fans, across the country, who got behind our cause. Their integrated campaign continues to deliver a significant financial impact to our school."
-Kathleen Staudt, Director of Development, St. Anthony High School
We secured placements in sports, lifestyle, and business trade media that resulted in more than 55 million impressions from traditional outlets like Sports Illustrated, Los Angeles Times, and CNN to powerhouse programs like 60 Minutes. We created an online community by developing an easy-to navigate website that inspired action, and grew St. Anthony’s and the film’s audiences by the thousands through Twitter and Facebook. We also created and directed high-profile screening events in key markets and brought in funders and sponsors like Buick and Reebok. Efforts were also bolstered by the business leadership workshops we created based on lessons from the film for companies like US Cellular.
The campaign we designed for St. Anthony led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the school. Funding came in from their loyal supporters – but a large percentage came from donors with no affiliation or previous knowledge of the school. They’d seen the documentary, or the 60 Minutes piece, or read about St. Anthony in the media…way beyond word-of-mouth. Who were these new donors? The school received a FedEx delivery from a celebrity containing a $100,000 check. A couple in Boston made a mid-six figure donation two years after seeing the film. The campaign we created attracted an on-going stream of donations from all across the country that continues to this day. Oh – and St. Anthony remains open and Coach Hurley continues to lead their acclaimed basketball program.
“We’ve had dozens of entities approach us over the years to tell our story, but we entrusted TeamWorks Media and they overdelivered. And the film was just the beginning. I now think of them as a true partner in our mission.” – Kathleen Staudt