It’s that time of year when everyone writes their own retrospective on the year. I don’t want to do that! I have lived through the year and really, really do not want to recap or rehash all that transpired during 2020. Once was enough.
I want to remember all the fun I’ve had since joining Hope-Beckham in 1999. We have been involved in some of the most exciting projects. When I remember them, I am reminded not only of the hard work that went into them, but the wonderful people I worked with, the exciting people I got to meet and the sense of accomplishment when it was all over.
I came to Hope-Beckham in February 1999, when the agency was closing the books on the Colorado Silver Bullets, the first ever women’s professional baseball team that played men’s teams. This team of elite athletes, given the chance to play a sport they loved, were coached by hall of famer Phil Niekro. The team played all over the world, had a television contract to air games and made a lasting mark on baseball. There is an area in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. about the team. Sponsored by Coors Brewing Company, after four years, the company moved on to other marketing opportunities and the team was disbanded.
We worked with a variety of sports teams and sports legends. I have been honored to be a part of Hank Aaron’s birthday celebrations through the years – which included appearances by renown sports figures, broadcasters and famous people. I was even invited to Mr. Aaron’s house for dinner following one of the very large and successful events. The agency has worked with The Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, was involved in the successful grassroots efforts to bring a WNBA team to Atlanta, the Atlanta Dream, and worked with Arthur Blank and the Georgia Force, the arena football team. Bob Hope even made a life-sized bobblehead of Markeith Cooper, the smallest arena football team member, and had dinner in Las Vegas with Jon Bon Jovi, an owner of a Philadelphia arena football team. (I am still not over the fact that I didn’t get to meet Bon Jovi!) We have worked with the LPGA, did work for a firm at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga. and worked with The Coca-Cola Company on events and activities surrounding the Olympics in Atlanta as well as Salt Lake City. When Super Bowl XXXIV was played in Atlanta, Hope-Beckham participated in a variety of events around the city. We worked on an event for Mohammad Ali in support of his charity (I met him!), and helped Michael Jordan, John Elway and Wayne Gretzky introduce their new venture, MVP.com. (I saw them but didn’t meet them.) We even helped Priceline.com put on an Elton John concert … which I got to attend.
Much of our work in those early days was sports and sports related. We worked with Russell Athletic and hosted a “Sweatshirt Ball” to honor the anniversary of the sweatshirt. We held a fundraising event for the Piedmont Park Conservancy, Olde Time Baseball, where leaders of Atlanta’s top organizations played baseball against each other to raise money for the park. Then Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, took a turn at bat. As I recall, she didn’t hit the ball, but she did run the bases … and her bodyguard ran along with her!
Hope-Beckham worked to put on the Friendship Games, a basketball game played in the Middle East between Israeli and Palestinian youth and handled the logistics for the Atlanta Red Bull Soap Box Derby in 2008. Hope-Beckham even invented a game called Pepsi-Ball for PepsiCo Inc. The ball itself was created by students at MIT and the game was played on the beaches during spring break.
Even in the early days of Hope-Beckham, when the agency was probably recognized as a sports PR agency, we did work in many other areas. We worked with Young Harris College to implement a communications program that included designing, writing and publishing a quarterly magazine for the school. And we worked with the First Islamic Bank of Bahrain to help secure its reputation following 9/11. That turned into a more long-term communications relationship. We worked with Feld Entertainment to promote its fledgling, upscale circus – which was fun! We helped Spanx promote its entry into Target stores by touring the “Better Butt Mobile.” (Enough said!) We worked with Star Gems to promote a new cut that made their gems look bigger, and we created a drill choir for The Home Depot – that’s right, we had hand drills, tuned, and played a concert of tunes in an auditorium for an audience. (I played a drill!)
Hope-Beckham has worked with restaurants like Longhorn Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Church’s (during the bird flu scare), Caribou Coffee and others.
And there have been the big tours and events. Hope-Beckham toured a 53-foot peanut around the U.S. promoting peanuts and conducted a Joy of Cola mall tour. When client Invista, maker of Stainmaster carpet, planned to introduce a new line of bedding, Hope-Beckham converted a truck into a glass-enclosed “bedroom.” The truck was parked just outside the venue where buyers were attending an event. When they exited the event, they were greeted by the bedroom scene with actors jumping on the bed, grabbing their attention. For the Coca-Cola Company, we helped with the re-launch of Powerade by painting strongmen like Powerade bottles. They pulled trucks through Union Square in NYC!
Hope-Beckham has worked with so many nonprofits to help build awareness and raise funds for the wonderful work they do. We have worked with Operation Smile, MDA, Hosea’s Feed the Hungry, MAP International, National Down Syndrome Association, Partnership Against Domestic Violence, ALS of Georgia, Christian City, Uzima Water Filtering, HAVE Foundation and HOI, Covenant House … I’m sure I’m not remembering them all. Bob Hope has even been involved in an organization called Atlanta Peace. That’s something I’d like to be involved with … World Peace!
These are the things I choose to remember – not 2020. I look forward to all the new adventures and challenges ahead. Yes, I’ll probably stay up until midnight on December 31, but not to welcome in 2021. I want to make sure 2020 leaves!