The Breakdown of CreateAthon Hour by Hour
While much of the nation prepares for Halloween weekend with candy shopping, costume designing, and well… sleeping, redpepper decides to do the opposite. Kickoff was last Friday at 9:00 am. For 24 hours straight, we kept our eyes open, minds sharp, and coffee brewing. Each year redpepper performs a 24-hour creative blitz to offer pro-bono marketing services to local non-profits, and we call this event CreateAthon. While we wish this were an opportunity everyone could experience, we know that’s not possible if you’re not a pepper! So, we’ve decided to walk you through our 24 hours as we experience them.
The coffee count clipboard hangs above 6 containers of coffee. Nearly 25 cups have been filled and checked off the clipboard within the first 15 minutes, totally explaining the high energy and noise level at 8:45 in the morning. Coffee paired with the excitement of the unexplored potential redpepper can act upon to impact 3 deserving non-profits creates an electric environment echoing around the shop. It’s kick-off: time for inspirational speeches and team bonding. To set the tone for the next 24 hours, our CEO Tim reminds us not to underestimate the impact we are about to make in a short period of time. It’s a ripple effect, where our work not only directly affects the non-profit, but also impacts those they help too. Tear moment #1. The Director of Production Services, Caroline, stands up to remind us why CreateAthon started. It’s about something greater than ourselves. It’s about sacrificing one night of sleep to affect the lives of people we don’t know. It’s about using our talents in exchange for something that money can’t compare to. Tear moment: #2. Wipe your eyes, fill your coffees to-go, and hit the road peppers, because it’s time to visit the sites! Our 3 clients are Hospital Hospitality House, Play Like a Girl, and Strick’s Gift. Hospital Hospitality House is located on Reidhurst Ave near Centennial Park. Play Like a Girl recently moved its headquarters to Nashville on Hillsboro Pike, and Strick’s Gift can be found on West End Ave.
As teams reconvene, agendas are set and individual subteams are created. Job titles become irrelevant because at CreateAthon, account service professionals become creatives and creatives strive to be tech gurus. It’s around this time that adrenaline replaces caffeine and peppers are all over Nashville gathering material. I’ll tell ya what, the afternoon was the fastest segment in time. You can hear a little bit of competition stirring between team rooms. “Oh, we’re so gonna win.” Rest assured, there is no competition between project teams but just equally passionate creatives who believe they’re producing their best work. The hours are a tad blurred together but this is around the time when the office wide wifi went out. “JAKE!!!!” is echoing off the walls. Jake is our tech genius, clearly. Several minutes later, we’re up and running. Back on the creative exploration.
Ok, seriously the dinner anticipation is killing us. Families come into the shop to be part of the experience, and baby peppers say good-night to their moms and dads. At dinner there are two kinds of people: Those that eat 5 rolls and those who have none so they don’t crash later. There’s no in between. After dinner, the groups are back to their individual rooms until 10:00PM. At 10, everyone pauses their work to meet our CEO for a special event. We’re all handed a piece of paper to write down something we want to let go of. We crumble up the paper and file out of the door. As we exit, we are handed a miniature grey stick and are later told it’s a sparkler. It is the first time in awhile that most of us have stepped outside and are instantly shocked by the chilly weather. As we walk around the building, we look like a 10PM protest and land in a “No Trespassing” area. We light our sparklers and burn the worries we wrote down. Upon return to our creating, there is a newfound energy radiating around the shop.
While The Rest of the World Sleeps
Yeah… things get weird. What do you expect? Dance parties, juice shots of ginger infused goodness, glow sticks around people’s heads, a sushi bar, and uncontrollable giggling? Yup. All those things happen and we can’t explain it except for maybe the catalyst of the midnight mile we decided to do. Here are two things I noticed during this period of time: People were either silently working while simultaneously thinking really hard about tactics to prevent nodding off or playing tag around the office. I do have to say, this was the segment in time that the most creativity was sparked. Flowing ideas were simply put into action. Maybe it was the 3:00AM dance party that helped too?
The 3 pregnant women come back to the shop and bring some enthusiasm. They are the few who have had the rejuvenating sleep. It’s the final push to deliver the best results and deliverables for our nonprofits. The projects are coming to completion. Some teams are adding above and beyond work with their extra time, and others are fixing loose ends. At 9AM the clients arrive. “They’re here! They’re here! They’re here!” I’ll admit to crying just a tad at the very simple exclamation that the clients arrived. It’s the no sleep thing. Each client is corralled into their team rooms. You can hear the sporadic applause from each room. The clients are filled with absolute joy, as are we. I only have the experience with my team but I am confident speaking for the rest of the shop that there were probably tears, smiles, and wide eyes.
Did someone say party? Yeah we know, we haven’t slept in over 24 hours but bloody mary’s and mimosas, Hattie B’s, and live music is too tempting. You would think it would be difficult to continue the action, but in reality, we are all past the point of sleep deprivation and want to celebrate the work and nonprofits we had the privilege of helping. I learned a huge lesson after this 24 hour marathon of creativity and that is that today is always the day to do something extraordinary.
Post-party it’s time for SLEEP. At least until next year.
Caroline Hall, Production Services Intern, Chester Springs, PA