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Representatives from some of the biggest companies in sports advertising gathered at New York’s Cipriani 42nd St. on Thursday night for the first-ever Clio Sports Awards.
Created by the Clio Awards, this year’s new, sports-specific competition recognized the best in sports advertising, design and communications work.
While winners were determined in gold, silver and bronze categories, the Manhattan awards show, hosted by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, announced the Grand Clio winners, who were invited to the stage to accept their trophies and make a few remarks to the assembled crowd.
The Grand Clio-winning campaigns included Samsung’s LeBron James “Together We Rise” mosaic, in which the tech giant invited fans to submit selfies, which were then used to create an image of James.
In accepting the award, one of the Samsung execs joked that he knew James was excited about the win, claiming that he texted the NBA star after the Heat’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs following Game 5 of the NBA Finals, saying he knows the loss stings, but he has a feeling they’ll win a Clio Sports Award. James, who recently announced he would be returning to Cleveland, texted him right back and said, “I think I have my closure in Miami.”
Other winners included Dick’s Sporting Goods’ “Sports Matter” campaign, which helps fund youth sports teams, and the Beats By Dr. Dre “Hear What You Want” ad featuring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick blocking out a crowd of angry Seattle Seahawks fans as he listened to music on his Beats headphones.
Prior to the show, Greenberg told The Hollywood Reporter that that commercial is one of his favorites.
“To me, that commercial is the perfect sports commercial. It captures the essence of sports I think better than any I’ve seen in a long time,” Greenberg said, adding that Aloe Blacc‘s song, “The Man,” which is also featured in the ad, “is so good.”
Golic meanwhile is fond of Dick’s Sporting Goods because of his work with them, both as a dad whose kids need gear for sports and in a professional sense.
The radio hosts told THR that their goals for emceeing the Thursday night event included pronouncing everyone’s name correctly, “and we don’t want to be so boring that people get up and leave,” Golic added.
They also said it’s about time that sports advertising, in particular, was recognized with its own awards show, talking about what an influence advertising has had on the growth of sports.
“I don’t know if this is quantifiable, but I would guess that athletes are the biggest endorsers of products that we have in this country,” Greenberg said. If you look at the star power of the biggest names that we have in the sports world and the significance of them as endorsers — Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, still 20 years after his last game — I think the advertising and sports go together, and I think that the growth of sports in the last 20 or 30 years can be attributed to a few things and one of them is the growth of cable television and the other is media in general and this is a huge part of that.”
Golic added during his opening remarks, “Advertising, design and communication have helped make sports a multibillion (that’s “billion” with a “b”) dollar phenomenon that influences what we wear, eat, drink, spend on average of eight hours every week watching.”
One of those billion-dollar sports brands is Under Armour, which received the Brand Innovator Award, accepted by svp, brand creative Steve Battista.
The company that 19 years ago was operating out of the trunk of founder Kevin Plank‘s car is now a $3 billion global apparel, footwear and equipment outfitter, Golic explained.
“The company is a case example in brand building, beginning with an innovative product and continuing with even more innovative sponsorships, ad campaigns and charity programs,” he added.
During his acceptance speech, Battista, who previously demonstrated with Greenberg that they were both wearing Under Armour underwear, something that the award-winner claims happens fairly often, said, “This is an incredibly meaningful award for us because innovation’s at the key of everything we do, and you’ve heard a bit of the story before: Everything we do is driven by the mantra, ‘There has to be something better.'”
Battista then recalled how Plank was inspired to create something better than his sweat-soaked cotton t-shirt.
“He’s revolutionized how we dress and how athletes dress — for training, for running, for work,” Battista said of Under Armour’s founder. “So when you have a product like that, it makes our job as the storytellers pretty easy … Here’s to 18 more years of innovating.”
After Battista finished his speech, Greenberg joked, “I think he liked my underwear.”
The Clio Sports Awards were selected by jury panels of industry executives, including Mark Cuban; UFC president Dana White; Casey Wasserman; CAA Sports co-head Michael Levine; IMG Sports and Entertainment president George Pyne; NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum; CMOs for the NHL, NFL, Big East, NASCAR, U.S. Olympic Committee, NBC Sports Marketing Group and the Dodgers, which like THR is owned by Guggenheim Partners; marketing execs from Allstate, MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, AEG Sports, Fox Sports 1 and the Golden State Warriors; and Sports Illustrated publisher Brendan Ripp.
Prior to the show, Ripp was still basking in the glow of last week’s LeBron James scoop, explaining that it provided a great opportunity for people to check out the company’s recently redesigned website and mobile experience.
“We had just redesigned the website and the mobile experience about five weeks earlier, so to have a scoop like that became an unbelievable sampling opportunity for consumers who potentially hadn’t been to SI.com or those who had but hadn’t experienced our new mobile platforms,” Ripp said. “To have record-breaking traffic five weeks after you redesign is just … sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good with timing.”
As for one of his favorite ads, Ripp said he was “in awe” of Nike’s Derek Jeter “RE2PECT” campaign.
“I think it’s brilliant work that’s transcending sports as well as around multimedia,” he said.
The after-party featured a performance by Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy and music by DJ Kiss.
THR was one of the media partners of the Clio Sports Awards, which like THR are owned by Guggenheim Media.
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