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Special Project

Special Project
From the 7th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

A Force to be Reckoned With

Entered in Nonprofit Partnership


Carhartt supports Team Rubicon in their mission to help whenever and wherever needed. Team Rubicon is a group of 150,000 veterans, first responders, and skilled civilians who volunteer to assist global communities prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and crises. 

The work of these volunteers, known as Greyshirts, goes beyond rebuilding communities. It also positively impacts the lives of military veterans transitioning back into civilian life by providing a renewed sense of purpose, community, and identity through continued service.  

At its core, Carhartt is a brand that champions toughness and strength. High quality and rugged workwear that holds strong for the humble worker—farmers, roofers, laborers, and Greyshirts.  

There are no conditions tougher than disasters. We found an authentic opportunity with Carhartt: enlisting our Greyshirts to put their new Force tee to the test to see if it is truly tough enough for any challenge under sun and storm. 

On the surface, our partnership was represented by a cause marketing campaign, conveyed through commercials, press buzz, and social amplification.  Beyond that, we were able to tell a powerful story of the passion and grit of those that proudly wear the Carhartt brand.  

Helping survivors of disaster get back to work is a key component of Carhartt’s community affairs initiative, and through this partnership, the company provides the official domestic grey shirt uniform and supports Team Rubicon’s efforts to provide the greatest service possible to areas impacted by severe weather or disasters. 

Strategy and Execution

With the global temperature forecast suggesting that 2022 will be one of the Earth's hottest years to date, Carhartt continues to innovate its iconic styles to be fit for the next frontier - building workwear for hotter days and harder work. 

To ensure the Force Relaxed Fit Pocket T-Shirt was tough enough to handle rising temperatures, Carhartt turned to its friends at veteran-led disaster response organization, Team Rubicon, who've spent several months testing the shirt in the heat of real-world emergencies around the world. 

As the “Official grey shirt of Team Rubicon,” more than 30,000 Force Relaxed Fit Pocket T-Shirts have been sent to their veteran, first responder and civilian volunteers who work to provide immediate relief to those impacted by disasters and humanitarian crises. 

In a disaster zone, responders need to be agile to be able to assist homeowners on their worst days. The Force T-Shirt allows these volunteers to work harder, for longer, enabling families to return home faster.  

“Team Rubicon depends on the Carhartt Force grey shirt to stand up to even the toughest operations, from hurricanes to tornadoes to just about everything mother nature throws at us,” said Chris R., Team Rubicon volunteer from Fort Worth, Texas. “These shirts are as tough as the volunteers that wear them.” 

There is no focus group that matches up to the real-world battle testing of Team Rubicon. Thousands of Greyshirts provided insights gained in the field during disasters across the country to inform apparel design and the campaign. 

One of Team Rubicon’s core capabilities is the “muck out”, clearing out debris from the home to get residents back onto the road of recovery. Muck outs are hot, dirty work done in the most extreme conditions. The challenge Team Rubicon faced was having the appropriate attire that can stand up to this environment.  

Carhartt met this challenge with the Force tee, adding zoned mesh panels to keep air flowing, enhanced stretch to allow for increased movement, improved seam design for a more comfortable fit, and sun protection. 


After months of testing, the new Force Relaxed Fit Pocket T-Shirt was rolled out to Team Rubicon’s 150,000+ volunteer base. These Greyshits are now able to work harder for longer as they assist communities before, during, and after disasters and crises. 

The 15-second commercial spot reached over 1.2 million views on YouTube. The press release, spotlight email announcement, and social posts amplified Team Rubicon’s mission and showcased Carhartt’s deep commitment of meeting real-world needs for all of the everyday people making a positive change in their communities.  

The biggest success? A campaign that showcases that for-profit creative can go beyond the surface and that supporting a cause is more than a social filter. Our world is going to continue to face daunting challenges, and embedding philanthropy into the every day, inspiring audiences to take action, and learning bold companies to be role models is crucial to the future for all.  


Video for A Force to be Reckoned With

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Team Rubicon and Carhartt