As one of the world’s largest alternative asset managers, Citadel has a heritage of supporting philanthropic initiatives within the communities in which they operate. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Chicago schools, museums and major cultural institutions to close their doors to the public, Citadel partnered with the City of Chicago to produce an episodic video series that invited Pre-K through 12th-grade students to engage with educational and entertaining content while staying home.
As part of the city-wide response during the course of the pandemic, Citadel and the City of Chicago co-created a virtual graduation experience for Chicago Public Schools graduating seniors. The live-stream event featured a range of notable guests, including Oprah and Common and was delivered across a range of digital channels that reached a national audience. To help achieve such an event that had never been done, Citadel selected 50,000feet as their lead creative brand partner responsible for bringing it all to life.
With students and families confined to their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic public health advisories, Citadel saw an opportunity to help Chicago Public School students and their families by providing access to the educational resources of Chicago cultural institutions in virtual settings. Working with the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office, Citadel developed a city-wide digital platform and educational program that reached thousands of students during the course of the pandemic.
Citadel partnered with 50,000feet to develop the brand name, brand identity and brand platform for the public affairs initiative. Stay Home. Hit Play. became the foundational platform for a series of weekly virtual field trip episodes that were streamed online as well as televised on WTTW, a Chicago public television station. Activating across digital channels, 50,000feet filmed the seven videos and published each to a microsite, along with student activities that visitors could download, print and use for continued educational engagement.
Within their first month, The Stay Home. Hit Play. episodes received more than 45,000 YouTube views and the microsite experienced significant traffic from students and their families across Chicago and continues to be available today. The weekly social media posts, community events and press conferences brought national visibility to the program, further extending its reach.
I look forward to joining all of Chicago in re-experiencing these inspiring cultural sites.
Mayor of Chicago
These institutions invite us to learn, imagine and dream together—they embody what makes Chicago special.
CEO and Founder, Citadel
Students also watched Stay Home. Hit Play. twice a week on Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW. “WTTW is honored to partner with the City of Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot, Citadel and our city’s museums and cultural institutions on an initiative that aligns with our purpose to enrich lives, engage communities and inspire exploration,” said Sandra Cordova Micek, President and CEO of WTTW. “As a public media organization, it’s our role to respond to the needs of our community with trusted, educational and immersive programming.”
COVID-19 upended the plans of the world throughout 2020. In light of that disruption and uncertainty, Citadel wanted to keep an important milestone experience for CPS high school seniors—graduating—as normal as possible. Through a highly collaborative partnership with Citadel, the City of Chicago, 50,000feet, SY Partners and A-list celebrities and athletes, Chicago hosted a first-of-its-kind 60-minute citywide virtual graduation ceremony to celebrate its 35,000 graduating seniors. 50,000feet created an integrated campaign that drove an interactive landing page experience hosting the live-streamed graduation event. 50,000feet updated the site throughout the campaign to build excitement, anticipation and engagement.
While CPS seniors had to adapt to an unconventional graduation experience, we wanted to make the virtual ceremony a uniquely memorable moment as they prepared to enter their next chapter. During the live-streamed event, speakers including Common, Oprah, the Governor and the CPS Chief Education Officer, among others, gave congratulatory remarks to celebrate the seniors, with drumline performances providing entertainment. The experience directed visitors to Mayor Lightfoot's Twitter account for access to the live event. The site also offers users the opportunity to relive the experience by documenting the full-length event.
Leading up to the event, 50,000feet updated the site weekly and partners used their social and website channels to highlight event details to build awareness and excitement. Thanks to these cross-channel public relations efforts, the live stream graduation ceremony welcomed more than 11,000 users, logging 14,000 sessions during the event.