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Special Project

Special Project
From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

#SelfieWithSomeoneNew Nationwide Activiation

Entered in Influencer & Celebrity


As part of the Y's "For a better us." national multimedia positioning campaign, in September 2017, the Y launched, "Us." focusing on the Y's mission to serve communities nationwide in the hope of bringing people together to build a stronger, better us. The campaign's main objective was to elevate the perception of the Y as a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. "Us." takes viewers on a journey that explores what the idea of "us" means in our country, the ways in which our bonds are fraying, and how the Y helps make them whole again through safe spaces, after school programs, mentorship, and much more.

In effort to highlight, "Us." in communities across the U.S., the Y launched a social media campaign, #SelfieWithSomeoneNew in an effort to encourage members to meet someone new, learn about who they are, showcase the diversity of Y members, and share a photo on social media.

To raise awareness for the campaign, the Y partnered with actor Ethan Hawke, a lifelong Y member, to serve as a spokesperson, encouraging people across the country to participate in the social campaign.

Participants met someone new at their local Y, learned about the other person, took a photo with them, and used the campaign hashtag to share their story of breaking down barriers to find common bonds.

Strategy and Execution

The message of "Us." positions the Y as more than just a swim and gym, but an impactful nonprofit worthy of support and donations. It showcases the Y as a safe space, a positive influence in the community and a bright spot in a sometimes-dark world. It aims to inspire communities and bring together people from all backgrounds, races, religions and more, so that everyone can find common ground and feel a sense of belonging.

To bring this message to life, the Y wanted to partner with a notable figure who had an authentic Y connection, felt its impact and understood what the Y is all about – serving the community. Actor Ethan Hawke played an incredibly important role in bringing the Y messaging to the appropriate media outlets and speaking to his fan base with a passion to help build community through the Y.

Using Ethan, Catalyst Public Relations had the ability to drive home Y messaging in interviews that would not have been possible without him, and brought additional awareness to an audience the Y could not have tapped into on its own. Positioning Ethan Hawke as a spokesperson for the Y, which had previously not been done, proved to be very instrumental in positioning the Y as a leading nonprofit rather than a swim and gym.

With the #SelfieWithSomeoneNew campaign, Ethan was able to pivot the messaging around the Y to showcase its diversity in programs such as the achievement gap, diabetes prevention and an all-around great place to volunteer and make a difference. This allowed Y programs to shine through during his interviews and describe the real impact the Y has on communities every day.

Not only did Ethan's partnership with the Y allow us to tap into an untouched national audience, it opened up access to an additional audience – Ethan's fan base. His following allowed the Y to create an online social media presence to support the "Us." messaging through the #SelfieWithSomoneNew campaign. His authentic connection with his local Y amplified the media appeal of the social media campaign leading to in-studio interviews, an AP photo opportunity and top media placements.


Through the Y's unique partnership with Ethan Hawke, Catalyst Public Relations was able to secure top media placements in People, ABC News, MSN, Mashable, Entertainment Tonight, AOL News and the Associated Press. These results included more than 269 million earned media placements and more than 17 million social impressions. Overall social impressions also totaled 17.1 million. The celebrity partnership moved the "Us." messaging forward and had the ability to showcase the diversity in programs and members at Ys across the country.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Catalyst Public Relations, a division of Endeavor Global Marketing, YMCA of the USA


Entry Credits