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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

March Mathness

Entered in Single Post or Activation


Some may say that Princeton University is irrationally excited about March 14 also known as Pi Day. To begin, March 14 is Albert Einstein’s birthday, a longtime Princeton resident and scholar who visited campus frequently. Pi is also a meaningful number for many within our academic community. To celebrate the occasion, many on campus and the community celebrate with pizza "pi" parties, Einstein look-a-like competitions, lectures and more. 

In 2023, Pi Day coincided around the timing of Selection Sunday for March Madness - when the Princeton Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams would find out who they were competing against in the tournament.

As the nation tuned in to this annual sports phenomenon, we wanted to shine the spotlight on the scholarship behind our student-athletes and our “team behind the team” on one of Princeton’s most beloved holidays.

Here's what happened.

Strategy and Execution

Both teams stamped their ticket to the Big Dance when they each won the Ivy League Basketball “Ivy Madness” tournaments, hosted on Princeton’s campus at Jadwin Gymnasium for the first time in history. The Princeton social media team huddled going into Selection Sunday on what content to capture for University channels - one idea was to invite students to recite as many digits of pi as they could remember to post the following Tuesday on March 14. There was a chance that this idea may have landed on the cutting room floor if there was not enough participation or enthusiasm.

On Selection Sunday, Maddy from the University’s social media team was the solo content creator. When she arrived to Jadwin Gymnasium, it was hard to gauge, how excited these students might be about participating in the concept during the pinnacle of their college sports career - but Maddy went for it.

To recruit students for the project, she asked each team/group while they were waiting around— "Who can recite the most digits of Pi?" And like any good team, each of the four groups excitedly pointed out the right person for the job. 

Maddy filmed them in front of the tournament bracket on their phone. A ::chef's kiss:: moment was when each student concluded with "that's all I got."

With film in her camera roll, the video was edited into an Instagram Reel with captions and a counter. The cover photo featured just enough "nerd" and basketball to draw in viewers. 

On March 14 - #PiDay - we published the video and pinned it to the University's Instagram account, knowing that both teams were on the national stage as they played in the NCAA March Madness Tournament that week. It really picked up steam, after both teams upset their firstround opponents as it was the first post users 

The post also served as complimentry piece of content to all the sports coverage around the team - if offered a different look to the Cinderella teams so oftenly talked about in the tournament.


Our goal was to draw national attention to the “student” behind our student-athletes. They are high performers on and off the court, and rose to the occasion when tasked with an above-average ask.

To date, the Instagram Reel has received 370k views with a reach of 365k accounts. Of the 365k accounts, 312k accounts - 85% of views - were non-followers which demonstrates that we were able to reach a global audience. It was one of the most shared posts on the University’s account with nearly 3,000 shares.

The one comment that sums up everybody's reaction: “i am so shook by this.”


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Princeton University


Entry Credits