As Amazon Prime Video got set to launch a massive new entry into Lee Child’s Reacher franchise, they finally had a leading man that matched the stature of the titular character.
Alan Ritchson as the 6’ 5” Jack Reacher crashed onto the screen and immediately started crushing baddies half a dozen at a time. And with Reacher’s appearance, we had a mission of our own to crush:
Make. Reacher. Huge.
So as the crowds swelled in Las Vegas for a combined NHL All-Star and NFL Pro Bowl Weekend, and as fans gathered at Atlanta’s Truist Park, we descended on the prime real estate with a multi-stage time trial engineered to test both the brains and brawn of the public.
Huge? Yes, but not yet Reacher Huge. So we threw down the gauntlet for over a dozen pro athletes from the UFC, MLB and NFL to take on what was dubbed the Reacher Challenge—including Jorge Soler, Chris Weidman, Mark Andrews, Darius Leonard, Nick Chubb, Patrick Ricard, Micah Parson, James Conner, Deebo, and Xavien Howard.
Built to travel and designed as a social content generating machine, the Reacher Challenge traveled from coast to coast and finally launched Reacher as the towering figure he was meant to be in the minds of a growing legion of his fans.
Run Like Reacher
We designed the Reacher Challenge as an ordeal of physical and mental challenges, each fashioned after a critical scene from the series and placing participants in the same predicaments in which Reacher finds himself. From battles with hitmen, to military-style vaulting logs, to a cerebral counterfeit scavenger hunt, each obstacle sparked maximum adrenaline and yet remained accessible for every player—from granny to global athlete.
From a build perspective, we designed the entire experience as a modular, end-to-end spectacle that could flexibly adapt to locations across the country. Each narrative beat was fashioned into a portable ‘pod’ with obstacle transitions, creating a chain of challenges that mirrored the narrative arc of the entire series.
All of this was designed to be winnable in less than 60 seconds, maximizing throughput for the crush of passers-by clamoring to claim their shot at Reacher glory.
To engage the public and keep energy high, a live emcee narrated each player’s challenge and enticed the crowds to root for every Reacher wannabe—drawing thousands in foot traffic over three days.
The Reacher Rules
Unjustly arrested for murder in the small town of Margrave GA, Reacher is ziptied in the city jail—and that’s exactly how our experience started for every one of our players. If they could break free, players threw themselves into successive scenes while doing their best not to get hung up on the intense physical challenges—discovering the scene of a murder in the home of the police chief, happening upon an undergound counterfeit ring, and finally slamming the timer and setting off the Margave PD siren.
As a character, Jack Reacher is famous for coining unexpected nuggets of wisdom, referred by Author Lee Child as Reacher’s ‘rules’. To enrich the experience for the die-hards, we took a handful of these literal ‘words-to-live-by’ and built them into the Reacher Challenge experience.
Posted prior to the experience and emblazoned on our swag, the Reacher Rules provided the tips and tricks for a successful run through the experience.
From safely traversing under a log obstacle, (Reacher Rule: “Better to take a bullet in the leg than in the head”) to effectively breaking zip ties, the Reacher Rules didn’t just provide an entertaining narrative to the plot of the series, they provided the key to the experience (Reacher Rule: Punch keypads with your knuckles to avoid leaving fingerprints).
Reacher vs. The Pros
We sparked social conversation by throwing the best of the best athletes into the ring. A coordinated PR strategy activated online audiences of dozens of superstars during the pinnacle media events of NHL All-Star weekend and The NFL Pro Bowl, both of which took place just down the street from our Las Vegas strip-centric activation.
As thousands looked on, Alan Ritchson competed head-to-head with Xavien Howard, throwing down the gauntlet for any challenges willing to rise to the occasion. And rise they did—from Nick Chubb to James Conner to Deebo to Darius Leonard, the time to beat was shaved lower and lower until Alan Ritchson himself stepped in to post the final victorious score—17 seconds from start to finish.
The Challenge Reel
Each participant had their run immortalized for social glory via a personalized highlight reel of their Reacher run. Rendered on the spot from a follow camera that programmatically rendered each video before the participant could wipe the sweat from their brow, hundreds of the videos found their way to social immediately. From breaking zip-ties to taking out the hitman to finding the counterfeit bills, the Reacher Challenge let everyone be as huge as Reacher—and prove it to all of their friends on Insta.
Live with Reacher
As the Reacher Challenge wrapped its cross-country tour, Tool recreated the Margrave Diner and sat down with the stars of the show in a livestream that gave fans everywhere a chance to sit down with Alan Ritchson over a piece of Georgia peach pie. Fans engaged with the stream to grill the cast about what it was like to bring to life the classic character and hunt for justice while a corrupt criminal ring does everything in its power to knock Reacher down a peg.
In the end, each piece of the activation came together in a cohesive cross-country narrative that engaged tens of thousands on the ground and millions online across authentic influencer channels. The message? Reacher is back. And bigger than ever. The result? The Reacher Challenge helped Reacher land the most-viewed spot on Prime Video at launch.