Budweiser and VaynerMedia's 'Future Sponsors of the NWSL' Wins 3 Grands at Clio Sports

W+K Shanghai, Fingerpaint and AKQA also win Grands

Budweiser and agency VaynerMedia's campaign to address the pay gap in women's soccer, by first addressing the sponsorship gap, has won three Grand Clios at the 2020 Clio Sports Awards.

The work won the Grand in three categories: Integrated Campaign; Partnerships, Sponsorships & Collaborations; and Social Media.

Three other Grands were announced as well. Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai won the Grand Clio in Design for its Beijing99 work on behalf of Nike. Fingerpaint Marketing won a Grand in Public Relations for "Tackle Can Wait," a campaign for the Concussion Legacy Foundation. And AKQA won a Grand in Direct for Google's "Offside Museum."

See all the 2020 Clio Sports winners at clios.com. And for more on the four Grand-winning campaigns, see below.

Future Official Sponsors of the NWSL

Grand Clio, Integrated Campaign
Grand Clio, Partnerships, Sponsorships & Collaborations
Grand Clio, Social Media

• Brand: Budweiser
• Agency: VaynerMedia

Coming off the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's World Cup vistory in 2019, women's soccer in America seemed to be entering a new golden age. Except female soccer players were still being paid 19 times less than their male counterparts.

To address this, Budweiser and VaynerMedia took aim at the corporate sponsorship of the men's and women's professional leagues, which helps the teams fund player salaries. While Major League Soccer had 24 official sponsors, the National Women's Soccer League had just three.

Vayner created a campaign called "Future Official Sponsors of the NWSL," which featured nine placeholder products for some of the biggest sponsorship categories in sports, from toiletries to timepieces. Megan Rapinoe promoted the products as though they were real, to give brands an idea of what sponsoring the league could look like.

For the 2020 season, the NWSL added six new sponsors—P&G, Secret Deodorant, CBS, Twitch, Google and Verizon—and the league announced an increase in their salary cap by almost 20 percent.


Grand Clio, Design

• Brand: Nike
• Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai

In April 2019, Nike hosted a four-week amateur basketball tournament in Beijing, China, called the Beijing99—challenging players to put their pride on the line and battle for the title of best in Beijing.

Nike created 99 custom-designed jerseys for the event, inspired by the emblems of mythical beasts embroidered on robes in ancient China that distinguished military and civilian rank. The No. 1 jersey in the Beijing99 is a golden dragon, similar to the original highest rank. No. 2 through 9 are the Kirin. The 10s are a Lion, 20s are a Leopard, 30s are a Tiger, 40s are a Bear, 50s are a TigerCat, 60s are a Rhino, 70s are a Horse, 80s are a Crane, and 90s are a Xiezhi.

Tackle Can Wait

Grand Clio, Public Relations

• Brand: Concussion Legacy Foundation
• Agency: Fingerpaint Marketing

The "Tackle Can Wait" campaign was designed to convince parents, teachers, coaches and athletes that playing tackle football should be delayed until after the age of 14.

The work centered on a study that showed the risks tackle football can present for kids younger than 14. In particular, it underscored the correlation between the length of time a person plays tackle football and the development of the brain disease CTE—a correlation even stronger than that between smoking and lung cancer.

The campaign began with a PSA in which young football players are given cigarettes by parents and coaches. The point was clear: We wouldn't let kids smoke, so why would we let them do something as dangerous as tackle football before age 14?

Paid social drove the audience to a website to learn the facts. And an informational "cigarette pack" unfolded to reveal not cigarettes, but key insights from the study that drove home the message. The cigarette packs were distributed in several legislative hearings in states evaluating banning tackle football for children under 14.

Offside Museum

Grand Clio, Direct

• Brand: Google
• Agency: AKQA

From 1921 to 1979, women's football was banned in several countries. Many brave women kept on playing, yet this period of history remained untold. 

In collaboration with the Football Museum, Google and AKQA portrayed this forgotten era by launching a completely empty digital museum. To fill in the historical gaps, anyone could digitally submit documents, photos and memorabilia from the time. 

With thousands of stories received and selected, the Offside Museum became the world's largest crowdsourced search for gender equality, giving life to six permanent exhibitions—unveiled during the Women's World Cup finals in 2019—and a traveling physical exhibition.

Among the multiple Gold Clio winners at the 2020 Clio Sports Awards:

• VaynerMedia won four golds—two for the Future Official Sponsor campaign, and two for other Budweiser campaigns: "Dwyane Wade This Bud's for 3" and "Dwyane Wade's Last Swap"
• The agency Africa won five golds—two for AB Inbev/Brahma "Pay Per Beer," two for SporTV's "Let Her Run," and one for Go Equal movement's #GoEqual
• Saatchi & Saatchi New York/Woven Collaborative won two giolds for Tide's "Laundry Night"
• Translation won two golds for State Farm's "The Last Dance Deep Fake"

The other Gold Clio winners were:

• Rethink for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport Ontario "Rowan's Law: The Risk"
• Arnold Worldwide for the Aspen Institute's Project Play/Don't Retire, Kid
• Rothco for Irish Rugby Football Union's "See Green"
• a52 for Nike's "You Can't Stop Us"

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