Best in Arts, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Campaign 2017

USA Swimming, with Exponent PR, jumped in with a goal of increasing swim-team membership by an unprecedented 10%. To do this, organic searches for swim clubs and overall site traffic would need a 50% boost.

Winner

Exponent PR and USA Swimming
Swim United: With Liberty and Flip Turns for All

The third most asked question on Google about swimming: "Is it a sport?" Beyond that, research shows parents widely believe swimming lags behind other activities in building teamwork, confidence, and discipline among children. In turn, fewer kids join swim teams.

USA Swimming, with Exponent PR, jumped in with a goal of increasing swim-team membership by an unprecedented 10%. To do this, organic searches for swim clubs and overall site traffic would need a 50% boost.

Enthusiastic moms of kids aged 6 to 14 were deemed the optimal target. They appreciate sports’ value, have children who know how to swim or are learning, but are not considering a swimming team.

Every four years, the Olympics cast a spotlight on the sport. However, USA Swimming recognized the chasm between elite athletes and neighborhood swim teams. The Swim United campaign would bridge that gap by showcasing swimmers’ journeys from childhood to Rio, focusing on how joining teams positively impacted them.

"Great research, authenticity, and a simple concept helped Swim United lap the field in the crowded Olympic space," noted one judge.

Built around a "Before we were winners, we were all beginners" message, the effort highlighted Olympic swimmers not as world-class athletes, but as kids starting to swim. The campaign was topped off with a personalized Olympic swim cap sent to all who received USA Swimming’s monthly magazine.

In an eight-week period beginning with the Games, organic online searches for swim clubs rose 214% year over year. Site traffic increased 84%. Post-Olympics swim-team registration was up 15%, while September became the first month with 100,000 registrations.

"Brilliantly thought out," said one judge. "Kudos for more than achieving an ambitious goal."


Honorable Mention

MSLGroup and Netflix
Netflix Everywhere

Americans and a few select international markets know the seismic revolution Netflix has brought to entertainment. But in 2016, the brand, with MSLGroup’s help, sought to introduce itself to the world with a simultaneous launch in 130 countries. And to make it groundbreaking, it was kept secret until the ultimate moment when #netflixeverywhere was unveiled during CEO Reed Hastings’ livestreamed keynote at CES. Positive sentiment surpassed 95%. Subscription rates globally rose 21% over the previous quarter, not to mention 43% in the U.S. 

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