We started by developing the concept, theme and branding for the Shabbos, which we called Shabbat Yisraelit.
Next, we devised a careful strategy for how to market this.
1. We first held personal meetings with the counselors at each of the youth clubs, to get them on board with their role in encouraging the guys.
2. Next, we created an exciting WhatsApp campaign about the Shabbaton, to get them on board.
3. After generating this initial enthusiasm, we upped the campaign into an interactive phase. We asked teens to post pictures of themselves holding a sign that said (in Hebrew) “I’m also keeping Shabbat.” They did this individually and by region, with groups of boys declaring, “Petach Tikva is keeping Shabbat!”; “Elad is keeping Shabbat!” etc. The strategy behind this: Aside from creating a wave of positive peer pressure that motivated others to join, once the teens publicly announced that they’re keeping Shabbos, they were more likely to go through with it.
4. To boost the campaign, we got Israeli celebrities and sports stars to post pictures of themselves holding up the sign.
We created all of the print material for the Shabbaton, including special Shabbos booklets with tefillos and zemiros, and a unique box for the boys to place their phones inside for the duration of Shabbos. Written on the box was a special tefillah composed by Rav Grossman, for the boys to say as they embarked on this first Shabbos of their lives.
For each subsequent year’s Shabbaton, we devised a new theme and marketing strategy. The second year’s theme was “Hitnatakti, Hitchabarti” – I’ve unplugged and plugged in. Using ubiquitous phone/ tech icons, we conveyed the message that this unique Shabbos was about disconnecting from their phones for a day in order to connect to what is truly real. This past year’s theme was “Sof tov hakol tov” – if the end is good, everything’s good. Building on the popular Israeli saying that “hakol tov,” it's all good, the messaging emphasized that ending off the year on a high note by keeping the last Shabbos will retroactively transform the entire year.
As a marketing strategy, we created a crowdfunding-style website in which boys added their names to commit to keeping the Shabbat. This created a real excitement and buzz as the numbers ticked up; more and more boys were encouraged to sign on to what had become a veritable movement.