Commentary

2017 EFFIE Award Preview: #Game Changer

As a sneak peek at the 2017 North American Effie Awards, MediaPost and Effie Worldwide have once again collaborated to showcase some of the winning cases that will be awarded gold, silver or bronze Effies at the gala on June 1. This series focuses on learning and best practices from the Media Effie categories. Effie Awards are known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the marketing industry and recognize any and all forms of communication that contribute to a brand's success.

2017 EFFIE Award Preview: #Game Changer

Category: Media Effie: Media Innovation - Existing Channel

Client: Under Armour

Agency: Droga5 (with contributing agencies MullenLowe U.S. and Rapport)

Title: #Game Changer

Challenge

Under Armour invested heavily in Stephen Curry, who became one of basketball’s most popular players and a major cultural phenomenon almost overnight. Unfortunately, little of the buzz linked back to Under Armour. The cultural frenzy was drowning out the brand, and as a result, people weren’t connecting Curry to the brand. 

Curry represented Under Armour’s best opportunity to gain traction in the lucrative basketball category, and it was about to pass us by.

Solution

By living in the media environments of our target consumer, we discovered that:

  1. Gaming played a starring role in our audiences’ world and that 
  2. This aligned with a burgeoning Curry narrative. 

By design, an athlete’s video-game self is capable of putting up more ridiculous numbers than his real-life counterparts. But with the way Curry was playing, it was evident that something incredible was happening—real-life Curry was actually outperforming video-game Curry. 

As the season unfolded, this insight became a cultural narrative. Our consumers debated online. Segments of sports-talk shows became dedicated to the topic. And developers of the world’s most popular and realistic basketball series, NBA 2K, were being quoted in articles as evidence of how no one could have foreseen how good Curry was going to be.

We asked ourselves—what if we could demonstrate how much better Curry had

gotten by changing the actual game? What if we let fans experience what it’s like to play like real-life Curry by making video-game Curry just as good? 

We worked with 2K to do something they'd never done and change the game's code to briefly raise Steph's rating to the highest the game allowed.

We created a video to announce the event to the world.

A 30-second version of the video aired during Curry’s MVP acceptance speech and a long-form version ran online. National press coverage and buzz led to 30 hours—a nod to Steph’s jersey number—during which NBA 2K players could honor his MVP season by playing as him in the game with his MVP skills for the very first time. And to make absolutely sure that the brand and Curry would be inextricably linked, we also had branded content inside the game. Under Armour had in-arena signage takeover, an in-game hashtag bug and an in-game release of Curry’s MVP shoe.

Results 

By leveraging non-traditional thinking to capitalize on existing behavior, we successfully got people talking about the brand and Stephen Curry and gave them an experience they’d never forget.

And like Curry’s season, the numbers spoke for themselves:

  • More than 7 million players from 52 different countries took part
  • We generated 200M earned impressions—in just 30 hours!
  • The earned media value from PR was estimated at $1.4M from a spend of just $200k
  • 2.3X more mentions of Under Armour in total online Curry conversation
  • 19 hours of user-generated content were uploaded to YouTube using our hashtag
  • 280% lift in traffic to Curry-footwear site during the activation
  • 74% of Curry-footwear traffic could be attributed to our activation
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