Campaign Launch Events

The spectacular visual staging coupled with the video and other messaging enabled us to create a true moment of pride for Caltech and in what our students, faculty and alumni can accomplish. To us, this was the emotional goal that we were striving for. We couldn’t have pulled this off without you.

Diane Binney

Assistant Vice President of Campaigns, California Institute of Technology


On April 28-29, 2016, the California Institute of Technology launched the public phase of the most ambitious fundraising initiative in its history: the $2 billion Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. Caltech’s goal: to generate interest and engagement that supports smart risk and big ideas at this small but world-renowned research institution. Stratelyst Creative (previously Innovative Protocol) was engaged to guide Caltech through the strategic development, design, and delivery of this campaign launch and its important message.



Strategic planning began one year prior to the campaign launch with extensive interviews between Stratelyst Creative and senior administrators, division chairs, faculty, staff, and student leaders in order to appropriately capture the cultural essence and desired campaign outcomes for these perspective constituents. Following the interviews, Stratelyst Creative presented our Caltech partner with event and program recommendations as well as a detailed timeline to guide the production team through the next 12 months.

The partnership prioritized initiative goals that ultimately resulted in two unique campaign launch events – an evening gala for major donors; and the following day, a university-wide celebration for faculty, staff, students, donors, and the Pasadena community.

Guests arriving at the gala sipped custom cocktails in an elegant outdoor salon surrounding a 20’x20’ bar accented with orange chandeliers and a student jazz ensemble on a raised stage behind the bartenders. Chiffon curtains opened to invite guests to dinner while a string quartet and student leaders welcomed them and set up “something very special” following their entrée. As dinner concluded, a distant bossa nova band beckoned guests to join them for dessert and the evening program in a highly unique location – an iconic fountain in the center of campus that had been drained for the campaign launch and converted into a stunning lounge surrounded by six video projections, including one covering the campus’ nine-story library. As the president outlined the ambitious campaign goals, scientific imagery supporting Caltech’s six academic divisions were projected about and above the guests. The evening’s message perfectly punctuated the outstanding and unexpected research that scientists, faculty, and students produce at this world-class institution.

The following afternoon, guests attended a TED-style educational symposium that highlighted some of the extraordinary research produced by Caltech faculty. As the program concluded, guests egressed to an outdoor festival complete with interactive displays, food trucks, and music from a local indie band performing on the main stage. Unique exhibits let attendees interact with the Scarecrow and ROV-E planetary rovers, learn about cutting-edge computer/brain interface, understand how Caltech is improving infection diagnostics in patients, and much more.



These university campaign launch events provided guests with a glimpse at the future that will be achieved through valuable research dollars raised by Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. The events came in under budget and opened up new engagement opportunities with donors and alumni that will lead to continued success in the years to come for this highly respected institution.

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