When 2020 forced school closures and cancelled sports seasons, nearly half a million high school Track & Field athletes lost a constant in their life – their sport. Especially in underserved communities, this loss hit hard. In the midst of Zoom schooling, social distancing, and upended routines, the extracurricular support systems high school students relied on started to slip through the cracks, and virtual schooling couldn’t offer the same sense of community or support.
Revery was excited to partner with digital agency Instrument to create an empowering educational series for Nike – Track and Field Progress Lab, a five-episode series that encourages women-identifying high school Track and Field athletes to keep moving, even if their season got cancelled. Each episode covers a different pillar of wellness – mental fitness, recovery from injury, nutrition, community, and the path after high school – intended to help students develop powerful tools for success, both on and off the track.
This project was particularly exciting because it was developed exclusively for use in schools – it’s not part of a larger advertising campaign, and it isn’t external-facing. This made our audience the single most important factor in developing our creative approach. We were speaking to a group that was deeply individual, yet was united by the shared experience of virtual schooling, societal stressors, and denied access to their offline communities. And, with an audience that had never known a world without the internet or social media, we knew the information we provided had to be more valuable and specialized than anything they could simply Google. In other words, we had to be sure to tell our story in a way that honored theirs.
We worked closely alongside Instrument and Nike to provide end-to-end production support for each episode: We scripted, scouted, developed the episode format, and saw each episode from pre- through post-production. We shot at Nike WHQ with a cast of Nike elite track and field athletes and running influencers, each with their own experience and expertise to share. Our emphasis was on making this series both as accessible and impactful as possible, with a format that centered the knowledge of our experts and minimized brand gloss. The goal was to present information that could empower our audience to take care of their mental and physical health, stay resilient, and adapt to their present while planning for the future.
Fittingly, this project pushed us to adapt, too. A week prior to our shoot, our location moved into a high-risk COVID category, changing social distancing and masking guidelines. This meant we had to rework our creative approach to navigate both new local and Nike-specific protocols to ensure the safety of our teams and talent. With creative and budget already locked – and a timeline that was already tight – we had to rethink our shoot plan, including our staging, framing, and our style of talking to camera. But after nearly a year of thinking on our feet on set, we found these quick pivots felt almost like muscle memory. After all, there’s always a way to rearrange the pieces to tell a bigger story – even if the original game plan gets upended.