By Tricia Vossler and Catherine Ellis
Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA® / EDITORIAL USE APPROVED; ©VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
When Super Bowl LVII kicks off on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona, Athena’s work leading up to the big show will just be winding down.
The NFL, Clubs, players and partners give back to the community all year long, but the most significant initiatives take place in the days leading up to Super Bowl. This year is no exception. When Super Bowl LVII kicks off between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs February 12, Athena’s work will just be winding down. Our team is on the ground for community-focused events taking place in and around Phoenix and Las Vegas for Pro Bowl leading up to the big show.
When it comes to social responsibility, Super Bowl is, well, basically the Super Bowl of community impact initiatives. And like any great team, we’re proud to be part of it. The planning begins long before the game. Here’s how Athena plays a role.
Before The Bowl
Even before the 2022-2023 season began, the Athena team was busy helping the NFL to plan a variety of events. Our role in this relationship is to leverage tentpole moments such as draft, kickoff, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl to heighten awareness around all the existing efforts and create new moments for impact in host cities. Whether it be creating youth mentorship opportunities, executing NFL Play 60 football exercises, organizing commemorative murals or collaborating with the local Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Athena’s primary role is to strategize and lead planning with stakeholders, partners, and vendors to bring these moments to life.
At a more granular level, we manage communications, budgets, and event schedules, while strengthening relationships and identifying opportunities that can expand sponsorships and impact. The visual component of these events is given equal thought and consideration so that each one has its own design identity, distinct from the Super Bowl. That’s where Athena’s creative agency comes into play, bringing the look and feel to life through signage, collateral, and landing pages, all while casting it in a way that stays true to the NFL brand at large.
And The Award Goes To…
Athena also supported in launching the new Inspire Change Changemaker Award, which celebrates 32 club-nominated Changemakers who have impacted their local communities. Changemakers were announced by all 32 teams throughout the course of the NFL season and were celebrated for their commitment to fighting for social justice. Many Changemakers were recognized on-field at NFL games, and all were awarded with a $10,000 grant on behalf of the NFL Foundation.
We were able to draw on our institutional knowledge for this new initiative thanks to our work on other large-scale, high-profile events like the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year community event. Taking place the morning after the award show, this event brings the Man of the Year winner and his fellow nominees together to give back to a youth community space in the Super Bowl host city.
Launching the Inspire Change Changemaker Award and ensuring that it reaches and celebrates those most deserving of recognition in each club’s community was an extended process. To start, our veteran leadership helps connect the dots across the League’s many departments and teams for high-level discussions that drive planning and execution. Our go-between utility players maintain connections and facilitate information flows. These coordinators serve as an invaluable link between NFL executives, sponsors, league and local partners, community organizations and vendors. We also determined nominee qualification, developed and managed the grant application process, and coordinated with all clubs to introduce and generate excitement around this new accolade.
A Winning Roster
We play a few positions that might not show up on a depth chart and we approach them with the same dedication that makes any successful roster really “click.”
Organization, attention to detail, relationship building, and project management are Athena’s calling cards but it’s our collective commitment to give back to the community that defines us as an organization. Our work with likeminded partners like the NFL reminds us that working in service of others is more than a passion. It’s a privilege.
Our work with the NFL started with the award-winning Huddle for 100 campaign. Read more about Huddle here.