Warning: quasi-hysterical ‘hot take’ ahead. The Sixers beat the putrid, decomposing husk of a once-proud New York Knicks franchise by a single point last night on home court, so what’s the big deal? The answer – in the standings at least – is not much. The Sixers are now 11-25 and, Joel Embiid’s confidence notwithstanding, this is not yet a playoff team.
Yet, even in the light of day, it feels like a corner has been turned. You see, Finch Brands was engaged in the summer of 2013 to develop a branding campaign for the coming season (the coming era, as it turned out).
In the kickoff meeting, we were told that the team expected a rough, potentially historically rough, season ahead. And when it came to marketing, we should not lean on nostalgia (that had been overdone) nor should we wrap the approach around any current players (most would likely be gone soon enough).
The resulting campaign was christened ‘Together We Build’ – and used authentic, industrial imagery to connect the franchise’s moment with the workmanlike ethic of our city. The line (and hashtag it inspired) sought to be simultaneously honest and purposeful – to motivate the region to embrace a shared journey of indefinite length but undeniable potential.
Together We Build became a rallying cry for those who embraced the controversial approach of then-GM Sam Hinkie – these ‘Sons of Sam’ were compelled to ‘trust the process’ due to its sheer audacity, the howls of opposition from the national media and NBA social club, and the fact that it just might work.
So on a night when the human embodiment of ‘the process,’ Joel Embiid, led to Sixers to an improbable victory and bolstered his all-star case (and star power), an exuberant fan base overwhelmed Twitter into the early morning, and the next building block (Ben Simmons) seems close to hitting the court, there is a shift underway.
There is a long way to go – obviously – before the Sixers are an elite team. Yet last night may herald the end of the Together We Build mindset in favor of something more immediate, obtainable, within reach. The point of the campaign was to get fans (and sponsors) to understand that there is a special joy in being part of something from the beginning. And, to paraphrase Churchill, this is the end of the beginning.