Adweek and Clio Sports Celebrate the Craft of Sports Marketing

It has the power to enthrall—and engage—consumers like nothing else

We've all had them. They might have come via TV or a live event, through personal participation or from reading the paper or listening to the radio. They are those moments when sports lifted our emotions somewhere past fandom to a place where adrenaline and passion create a potent and focused form of elation.

With that in mind, I've been thinking a lot lately about Caitlyn, née Bruce, Jenner. That decathlon win at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal was my first real experience getting swept up in the drama of an athletic event, and when Jenner crushed the 400 meters, paving the way to overall victory, I was hooked.

In short order, the instantly iconic Wheaties box featuring Jenner on front was on our breakfast table, and if I'd have had any money beyond my allowance—I was 11—it would have been spent on Jenner swag. Not that there was anything like that in the '70s; it was a very long time ago.

This issue—published in partnership with Adweek's sibling brand, the Clio Awards, in support of the Clio Sports Awards, which will be held in New York on July 8—is devoted to that connection between sports and marketing. And because sports can illicit such strong emotions and feelings of authenticity—on both a global and tribal scale—it is a very big business indeed. PWC predicts global sports revenue will swell to $145.3 billion between 2010 and 2015.

More than any other sport, soccer, of course, has the broadest reach and influence. And beyond the rapacious machinations of FIFA, the game is an art form, as proved on the Canadian pitches where the drama of the late-stage play of the Women's World Cup unfolded last week.

One of the sport's high cathedrals is Manchester United, whose captain and the face of the team, Wayne Rooney, we photographed in London for the cover of this issue. In his story, contributor David Gianatasio explores how the team's formidable marketing machine has influenced pro sports globally, including here in the U.S. Howard Handler, CMO of Major League Soccer and a Clio Sports juror, speaks to that topic in the story.

Also in this issue, we catalogue all of this year's Clio Sports gold-winning work and feature Clio Sports jurors—Greg D'Alba, president of global partnerships at WME and IMG; Michael Levine, co-head of CAA Sports; and Steve Phelps, evp and CMO of Nascar—in our regular departments Voice, Mover and Look Back, respectively.

Finally, Gatorade, recipient of the inaugural Clio Sports Brand Icon Award, is profiled by senior editor Robert Klara in his weekly column, Brand Name.

What comes through in this issue and in looking at the winning Clio Sports work is that sports can transform audiences from passive to passionate and from sophisticated ad avoiders into marketing sponges.

Brand and agency executives, like the ones behind the Jenner Wheaties box, will always want to be in that game.

This story first appeared in the July 6 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.