🎉 2022 Shortlist
Ryan Shazier's 50 Phenoms: Stories of Triumph
- Best Athlete Storytelling
ABOUT THIS ENTRY
While making a tackle in a Monday Night Football game during the 2017 NFL season, Ryan Shazier suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury. Only one year after this fateful moment, Shazier walked onto the stage at the 2018 NFL Draft, the farthest he had walked without his cane since the injury. It was one of the most talked-about and inspirational moments of the NFL season.
Throughout his treatment, recovery, and rehab at UPMC hospitals and treatment centers, Ryan met countless patients who were making comebacks of their own. This insight provided the spark for Ryan Shazier’s 50 Phenoms, an interview series in partnership with UPMC. Over the course of three seasons, Ryan sat down with 24 UPMC patients who faced tremendous adversity. People who kept fighting, no matter the odds. These people might not be famous, but they are phenomenal—and you should know their stories.
How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?
The partnership with Ryan Shazier and the 50 Phenoms series has changed the way that fans interact and engage with health care, transforming UPMC into a content destination. Fans were, of course, invested in Ryan Shazier’s story and recovery, but they’ve demonstrated that they’re also invested in the stories of triumph that Ryan Shazier’s 50 Phenoms highlight, tuning in each month to see whom Ryan sits down with next.
An authentic partner like Ryan Shazier, who was treated at UPMC hospital, and compelling patient stories, have been a powerful combination, creating unmatched cultural relevance. 50 Phenoms has broken the mold for healthcare marketing, moving from passive activation of specific medical conditions to active engagement across the entire healthcare system.
Objective: This collaborative project between Ryan Shazier and UPMC began with a simple insight – who inspires athletes? Through his recovery and rehab journey at UPMC, Ryan Shazier witnessed stories of perseverance and met people who really inspired him, and he knew they could inspire others. Based on his own journey, Ryan knew that the road to recovery can be a lonely place—so the goal of the series was to encourage people and let them know they aren’t alone.
As one of the most popular Pittsburgh Steelers in team history, Ryan Shazier and his story provide a broad national platform. Leveraging that recognition and affinity, Ryan Shazier and UPMC wanted to highlight a wide range of medical conditions – no matter how big or small. The series shines a spotlight on everything from oncology to orthopedics, and everything in between, and provides resources for current and future patients to learn more about these medical conditions and the support available.
Strategy & Execution: Each episode of Ryan’s Shazier’s 50 Phenoms follows a robust, month-long content strategy across UPMC- and Ryan Shazier-owned multimedia channels designed to drive social engagement, email acquisition, and traffic across UPMC web properties.
Here’s a look at the promotional lifecycle of each episode:
- Long-form video interview between Ryan Shazier and a patient is uploaded to owned-media channels including the UPMC landing page and YouTube channel. The interview is accompanied by a feature-length story (1,000+ words) published on the UPMC Health Beat blog.
- A paid campaign drives new traffic and retargets users who have previously interacted with 50 Phenoms content.
- Complementary medical content – like UPMC doctor interviews and blog posts (e.g., life of a trauma surgeon) related to that episode’s featured medical condition – is pushed out through digital and social channels.
- A strong organic social strategy provides authentic amplification. The 50 Phenoms hashtag aggregates and organizes content, still photos from the interview are shared across the major social platforms, and Ryan Shazier and the Pittsburgh Steelers provide extended national reach through their avid fan bases.
Results: Ryan Shazier’s 50 Phenoms program has been one of UPMC’s largest and most successful sponsorship activations. The series has been running for three consecutive seasons, featuring 24 unique patients and stories.
The series has generated over 3.8 million views and the video completion rate is 72%, which is remarkable considering the average length of videos exceeds 3.5 minutes. Additionally, this is more than 15% higher than the department’s benchmark.
Other important metrics to highlight:
- The series has generated more than 3,000 newsletter subscribers, 500 leads, and 200 scheduled appointments.
- Organic posts have delivered 150,000 views and more than 7,000 engagements.
- More than 1,000 unique pieces of creative assets have been developed to support the series, ranging from promotional videos to doctor interviews.
When reviewing these metrics, it is important to consider that while health care is vital to our population, it generally remains a low-interest, low engagement category from a business perspective. Simply put, people don’t think about it until they need it, but this series is beginning to shift that narrative.
Talent / Host
Former Pittsburgh Steeler, Brand Partner
Vice President, Marketing Communications
Director of Content
Director of Photography/ Editor
Director of Photography / Editor
Dee Dee Woods