sunset with basketball hoop

Thursday Thinky: Sports, Sustainability & Creativity

If I tell you “sports”, what is the first thought that goes through your mind?

You may be drawn by the performances of incredible athletes or quite the opposite, but where ever you land on that spectrum, there is no denying that sports have the power to bring people together. I’ve had the chance to play pro sports, to be a fan, and to now be behind the curtain as a member of the media. All these experiences made me a big believer in sports as a tool for diplomacy and as a platform that has a unique potential to get through to people.

So we’ll start this week’s Thinky with two campaigns that celebrate this potential, one by Adidas, the other by ESPN. Then, we’ll move on to other big name brands taking their responsibility to enter the climate crisis discussion. And, we’ll wrap up with a dose of inspiration coming from a different area of the sports world, with a strange campaign from Equinox.

Get on your marks, get set, go!



The Power of Sports


Adidas – Inviting women to celebrate the movement of sport (Muse by Clio)

This spot is powerful, motivating and inclusive. We felt the energy and appreciated the diversity of the women featured–both in their shapes and sizes, and their preferred definitions of sport and movement. But I will say–I liked it MORE after reading  the article. The context on who the women are and what they do made a difference when I watched it for a second time.


Did you have the same response? And if yes, how could more of that context have come through in the story itself? They could have had small interstitials with each woman’s name/sport/accomplishments, but that may have broken up the power and energy. They do have very small bios about each of the women on the landing page — could/should they have done individual videos on each of them, as well? Could they have become the basis for an Adidas community of female role models? We were bummed that the email capture is all related to the proDUCT and not the proJECT that could have been part of this.


Thinky Grade: B+



ESPN – Capturing the beauty of how sports transcend whatever happens on the field (Muse by Clio)

Well, this is just lovely. Forget the fantasy football and tailgating and all that other stuff–this is the heart of how sports connects humans to each other, how it ignites our emotions and our passions, how it unifies. This is simple, and beautiful in its simplicity.


There’s an interesting underlying message: even when we, as a culture, can barely agree on anything these days–we can all come together over the power that sports can play in our lives, regardless of what team we root for. And by telling all of those stories, ESPN is the champion and deliver-er of that connection. Thy didn’t have to say a thing about their programming or on-air talent because the stories they shared said it all. It’s another reminder of the power of story and emotion.


Thinky Grade: A



Brands That Caught Our Eye


Delta – Offsetting greenhouse gas emissions for CES flights (The Verge)

It’s nice to see airlines recognizing their role in the climate crisis, and that they’re trying to do something about  it. The tie-in to CES was also appropriate, given how many people ascend on Vegas from around the globe, and the massive amount of fuel it takes to get them there. The article talks about JetBlue also pledging to make all of its flights carbon neutral. Thumbs up!

BUT the skeptic in me has to wonder…is that more of a PR play for goodwill than something that actually has an impact? In the grand scheme of things, how much of that campaign does compared to ALL of Delta’s flights? And, are offsets really helping, or should the transportation industry be working on more substantial solutions? 🤔


Thinky Grade: C+



Blackrock – CEO pledges to make environmental sustainability top criteria for their investments (

This is big!


“The company intends to exit investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” and increase the importance of sustainability efforts when investing in new companies. BlackRock will also likely vote against management teams in its portfolio that don’t make “sufficient progress” on sustainability over time….It’s a big deal, and it could have serious ramifications for startups and large corporations alike.”


This could be one of the big dominoes that starts a real trend or… it could be a PR stunt depending on how they evaluate sustainability.


Thinky Grade: A-


Inspiration Comes From Everywhere


Equinox – Strange campaign by Droga5 for Equinox advocates for us all to be obsessed with ourselves  (Muse by Clio)

In the words of Amy, inventor of the Thinky: “I know I’m not the target demo for this, but it  just feels wrong. Isn’t there enough selfie “me me me” obsession going around without glamorizing narcissism? It’s probably effective for a very specific subset of well-off urban millennials, but I am not a fan of things that send this kind of message in general. Even if there’s some acknowledging element of humor or sarcasm in here, it just reminds me of what I hope to NOT teach my kids–that they need validation or likes from everyone around them in order to be valued, and that their self worth comes entirely from their appearance. Equinox has the cache to take the high road, but they went in the other direction.”


Thinky Grade: C+



Research shows that the biggest obstacle to creativity…is being too busy  (Quartz)

I don’t think anyone would argue this, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that our brains and our souls need space to be creative. Great ideas can’t happen when we’re constantly focused on just checking things off a list and moving on to the next task. We know making space to let our minds wander is not easy, but it’s so important. Listen to science. Listen to yourself.


There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to effectiveness and measurement…but that’s a post for another day. Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

PS: If any of the above made your wheels spin, we’d love to hear your thoughts–get in touch with us!

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