The AI-powered tennis match that aired as a prime-time special on ESPN tops off a stunning awards season for brand and agency
NEW YORK - May 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FCB New York and Michelob ULTRA have been awarded the 2023 Sports Emmy for Outstanding Digital Innovation by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the groundbreaking long-form film “McEnroe vs McEnroe,” a first-of-its-kind branded AI activation that aired as a prime-time special on ESPN.
Through the combination of AI, Unreal Engine MetaHuman technology, body tracking, and a pair of perfectly synchronized robotic arms, “McEnroe vs McEnroe” became the first tennis match in history in which a legend of the sport was able to take on younger versions of himself in real time. The final result was so impressive that ESPN decided to air it — free of charge to the brand — as an hour-long special in prime time across 52 countries. With over 10 million views, “McEnroe vs McEnroe” became one of the most-watched sports events of the year, besting the 2021 NBA Finals.
This win marks the first Sports Emmy for both Michelob ULTRA and FCB New York, which, throughout their multi-year partnership, have been pushing the boundaries of technology in novel ways to enhance the enjoyment of sports. Like in 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible for fans to attend games in person, and they launched “Courtside,” a platform that allowed fans to attend virtually — which included seeing their faces in the stands and chatting with people in their “section” — by scanning a Michelob ULTRA bottle.
Michelob ULTRA’s distinct positioning around joy — doubling down on cultural relevance, grabbing people’s attention and reminding them that joy is not just an afterthought — has helped the brand grow to the 2nd-biggest beer in the country. They’ve achieved this success despite relentless category competition and headwinds for the light-beer category, which has declined 3% to 4% per year since 2013.
To date, “McEnroe vs McEnroe” has earned more than 120 media placements, with Sports Illustrated saying it “could be the future of sports” and Yahoo! praising it for “reinventing sports entertainment.” Since the launch of the program, organic searches for “Michelob ULTRA” have grown by 95%.
“An idea as ambitious as ‘McEnroe vs McEnroe’ can only happen when you have that perfect storm of relentless creatives, visionary clients and dedicated partners — all with a Never Finished spirit and a shared belief in the power of creativity as an economic multiplier,” said Michael Aimette, Chief Creative Officer of FCB New York.
“We simply can’t thank our clients at Michelob ULTRA enough for locking arms with us to bring this idea to life, and for always proving that ‘it’s only worth it if you enjoy it,’” added Emma Armstrong, FCB New York’s CEO.
FCB New York is currently the #1 agency in the world according to the recently released One Club Global Rankings, as well as the #1 Creative Agency for Effectiveness as named in the WARC Effective 100 list. It was awarded Agency of the Year by the Clios, as well as Campaign’s Experiential and B2B Agency of the Year, and was named to the Contagious Pioneers list of best and bravest agencies in the world.
“McEnroe vs McEnroe” has swept the 2022/2023 advertising awards season, taking home Ad Age’s Tech Innovation of the Year, five Cannes Lions, 15 Clios, 13 ADC awards and 24 awards at The One Show.
FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding) is a global, award-winning and integrated marketing communications company with a heritage of creativity and success dating from 1873.
FCB New York has been recognized globally for using creativity as an economic multiplier to drive meaningful business results for its clients, among them AB InBev, the FDA, MorningStar Farms, New York Mets and Spotify. In 2023 alone, the agency was named the #1 agency in the world on The One Club’s Global Rankings, awarded Agency of the Year by the Clios, honored as WARC’s #1 Creative Agency for Effectiveness, named to Contagious Pioneers’ list of best and bravest agencies in the world, and chosen as Campaign’s Experiential and B2B Agency of the Year. With more than 8,000 people in 109 operations in 80 countries, FCB is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG).