Ad of the Day: New Era

Honoring Jackie Robinson with a tip of the cap in a quietly moving spot from Pereira & O'Dell

Headshot of Emma Bazilian

April 15 is best known as the date for everyone's least favorite federal obligation. But it also marks a significantly more upbeat occasion—the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's opening day with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which Major League Baseball marks each year by celebrating Jackie Robinson Day. With the Robinson biopic 42 hitting theaters at the same time, the player's legacy is getting extra attention this year.

Adding to the buzz is "First Changes Everything," a new ad campaign from baseball cap purveyor New Era and agency Pereira & O'Dell that honors Robinson's achievements (while presumably inspiring sales of a few $35 Brooklyn Dodgers hats at the same time). It also includes a social-media component: New Era is promoting the #FirstChangesEverything hashtag, which has already been tweeted out by a slew of baseball teams and players. 

The minute-long TV spot, shot in black and white, shows people on a New York City street tipping their caps (or hard hats or fire helmets) as an unseen stroller passes by in slow motion.

"Here's to first," a voiceover says. "To making history instead of quietly going into it. To sacrificing everything so those behind you can stand on your shoulders for a better view." The object of the bystanders' regard is revealed to be a boy wearing a vivid blue Dodgers hat and Jackie Robinson T-shirt who stops to tip his own cap as he enters Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson Playground.

The ad manages to be quietly powerful instead of cloying, maybe because it attempts to illustrate Robinson's enduring legacy in the present day rather than using archival footage of the player's past.

And, of course, using a really cute kid always helps.


Client: New Era

Agency: Pereira & O'Dell, New York

Production Company: Rooster

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.