Zelle came to us wanting to support and shine a light on women’s sports, uplifting female voices that often do not get the same platform as their male counterparts. At Bleacher Report, we have a mix of portfolio brands that focus on the news and fandom of different sports, but one stood out as the perfect fit - HighlightHer.
HighlightHer was founded by Arielle Chambers to empower sisterhood and amplify globally diverse girls and women in sports and culture. As a growing platform with a clear mission, HighlightHer seeks to partner with brands that are also active in the support of women’s sports and was excited to collaborate with Zelle as one of the first key partnerships.
Zelle’s goal was similar to HighlightHer’s - facilitate a platform for female athletes to tell their stories, honor the communities that shaped them, and inspire the next generation of athletes.
Our solution: Her Homecourt. Every athlete has a home court. Not the one where their team plays, but the court that housed their childhood sports dreams. In “Her Homecourt,” we identified three WNBA athletes — Natasha Cloud, Dawn Staley, and Sylvia Fowles — who have changed the game. We honored their contributions to the game by memorializing the location where their legend began, by tapping female artists to paint a mural as a gift to the community. Zelle and HighlightHer honored the athletes by gifting the local girls basketball teams with a monetary contribution to help achieve their dreams.
Our approach was to use the power of HighlightHer, Bleacher Report, and House of Highlights to show the impact female representation can have in the average community.
Episode 1 focuses on Natasha Cloud, a powerhouse guard for the Washington Mystics, social activist, and proud member of the community. Cloud is honored with a mural at New Hope Academy portraying her significance to basketball and reminding viewers that representation is important for young girls. Viewers are given a peek into the daily grind of the New Hope Academy girls basketball team. As the mural is unveiled to the girls, Cloud emerges to surprise them. They have a raw, honest conversation around what it means to grow up in the DC community, the value of working hard towards their goals in sports and education, and the power of representation. We learn the team is struggling to reach a fundraising goal allowing them to play at the Tournament of Champions in Puerto Rico. With the help of Zelle, Cloud surprises the team with $5,000 to help them on their journey.
Episode 2 focuses on Dawn Staley, Hall of Fame player and coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Staley has had an incomparable impact in the lives of her players, particularly one player who is also making strides in the community - Khadijah Sessions. A mural is revealed in Staley’s honor in her hometown of South Carolina, and we learn more about Sessions and her role as a coach in girls basketball. Former coach and player are reunited, along with a group of young athletes in this unveiling moment. Staley speaks to the girls about why representation matters in women’s sports and inspires them to keep pushing to their fullest potential. Staley and Zelle surprise Sessions with a $5,000 gift for new jerseys and gym time for the team. Finally, Staley’s former player A’ja Wilson calls to thank her for her contributions to the basketball community.
Episode 3 focuses on Sylvia Fowles, future WNBA Hall of Famer, who met Ari Chambers in her hometown to surprise her former AAU program, The Miami Suns. Fowles talks about her deep sense of pride in her hometown, Little Haiti, which contributed deeply to the person she is today. Her success on and off the court was driven by the girls AAU program that she went through as an amatuer athlete. To further cement Fowles’ legacy in the community, she was presented with a mural that reflects her hometown and illustrious career. At the unveiling ceremony were the girls from Team Fowles, one of the teams in the AAU program, and their head coach Ochiel Swaby (aka Coach O), who were surprised by Fowles at the event. To make the moment special, Fowles and Zelle presented Coach O with $5,000 to help the program continue to provide young girls the opportunity to succeed.
Episodes were distributed in-game on NBA on TNT’s broadcast, HighlightHer and Bleacher Report’s YouTube channel, TikTok, Instagram, and House of Highlights’ TikTok channel.
This program created moments for these young female athletes that can never be replicated, while giving a platform for the legendary professional athletes. With each episode and the corresponding media that ran on our O&O platforms, we’ve reached Zelle’s target audience that are seeking to create moments that matter in their own lives and communities.
4.1M total video views
12.3M social impressions
17.1 total impressions
100k total engagements
36.1 total unique users
Perhaps more valuable to Zelle and HighlightHer than the quantifiable metrics, was the feedback from the community. The HighlightHer team received touching personal notes from both Coach O (Miami Suns) and Coach Caldwell (New Hope Academy) thanking them for the gift and inspiring their young players. Also, New Hope Academy used the
money to go to Puerto Rico, where they won the championships!
In addition to the impact that these videos had on our audience, this campaign as a whole generated substantial earned media on both a national and local level.
AdWeek: Bleacher Report’s HighlightHer Teams With Zelle to Elevate WNBA Voices
Forbes: Ari Chambers And HighlightHer Are Creating A New Paradigm for Women’s Sports
AOL: Ari Chambers is using HighlightHer and Social Media to Prove Women’s Sports Is Not A Trend
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