SPORTO Awards 2021 winners

The expert judging panel of the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), presided by ESA’s President Andy Westlake, announced the winning projects of SPORTO Awards 2021, a competition rewarding the best sports sponsorships and communication projects. Due to the pandemic, this was for the second time a digital event. First-placed projects from five categories are presented below.

SPORTO Sponsorship category: I’m not missing anything

How can we raise awareness about para-athletes and their achievements? How can we increase the understanding that our bodies have no limits and that the limits are only in our mind? The answer is a campaign that is so provocative, yet at the same time so powerful and empowering, that it moves people and drives the message home. Lidl Slovenija and the Slovenian Association for Sport of People with Disabilities – Slovenian Paralympic Committee, together with agencies Luna\TBWA, DROM Agency and Taktik, launched the campaign ‘I’m not missing anything’, which helped raise awareness of parasports by 330%. Tina Cipot, Head of Corporate Communication at Lidl Slovenija, emphasizes: “At the agency, they were inspired by the words of our most successful para-swimmer Darko Đurić, who said, ‘I have never felt like I was missing anything.’ So, we created a campaign, where the focus was not only on the Tokyo Paralympics but mostly, in our first communication, on our para-athletes. At the beginning of March 2022, our campaign was built around Jernej Slivnik, our only winter Paralympian. For the Summer Deaflympics 2022, we intend to further upgrade the campaign.”

SPORTO Endorsement category: Pogačar can also overcome hunger

“Tuš is positioned as a local Slovenian brand, meaning that over 70% of the products offered come from Slovenia, and the brand is closely connected with the best that Slovenia can offer. In the recent years, Slovenian cycling has become one of the best in the world, and Tadej Pogačar is our brand DNA when it comes to prepared food. Given that he and Tuš Express have many successful years ahead of them, we have created a long-term sponsorship strategy,” says Danijela Lakičevič, Marketing Director at Tuš, about the personal sponsorship with the cyclist. Together with Agencija 101, Tuš connected Pogačar with the new product brand Tuš Express. First, they launched Tuš Express To Go sandwiches, and since Pogačar is a synonym for bread in Slovenia, they called them simply Pogačar. Despite the targeted advertising, Tuš managed to reach as many as 32% of Slovenians, due mainly to the high viewership for cycling events. The sandwiches now generate 10% of all in-store sandwich sales.

SPORTO Event category: Slovenian Torch – We’ve got an Olympic Dream

The Slovenian Torch project achieved 96 days of continuous messaging for the Olympic Movement, brought together 212 Slovenian municipalities and all four Slovenian sports federations abroad. 214 events took place over a period of 64 days, with the participation of 972 sports organizations, 190 Olympians, 30 Paralympians and 76 para-athletes. 9,330 Slovenian Torch bearers covered an impressive distance of 7118 kilometres. 11 sponsors were activated, the media published over 1000 pieces of content, while OCS-ASF social media accounts recorded 85 days of generic posts. Taja Škorc (OCS-ASF), Director of Sport for All and Local Sport Department, reveals: “It was a truly unique project, the only project so far that brought together the whole of Slovenia – the general public as well as many stakeholders who are important for the Slovenian sport’s development and action: umbrella sports organization and other civilian sports entities, municipalities, sponsors, athletes and media.”

SPORTO Digital category: Argeta takes over Planica 2021

The Ski Association of Slovenia has done an impressive job in organizing an additional competition day at the Ski Jumping World Cup in Planica at the end of last season, after the tournament in Norway was cancelled due to the pandemic. Argeta had the opportunity to be the main day sponsor for the first time in the brand’s history. In only three weeks, they created a meaningful digital activation in collaboration with the Luna\TBWA agency to reach and engage ski jumping fans from all over Europe, and to brand the entire Planica winter stadium. “Together with the agency, we created an effective two-track campaign in combination with the branding at the event. Within a week, Argeta managed to reach as many as 2.8 million people with very limited budget in the selected markets, achieving unexpected response. At the same time, more than 3.5 million viewers saw the event’s branding through the live TV broadcast,” says Valentina Erčulj Džuban, Head of Brand Development at Atlantic Droga Kolinska, about the timely and successful activation.

SPORTO Rights holder category: We’ve got this. We’ve got Tokyo!

When formulating the umbrella marketing campaign, the Slovenian Olympic Committee focused on a key issue: how to emphasize the Summer Olympics as the most popular sports event in Slovenia after it was postponed for a year. The campaign connected all Slovenian 2020 Tokyo Olympic activities into a coherent whole, giving them the same visual image and message – “We’ve got this. We’ve got Tokyo!” – in order to bring together athletes, fans and sponsors of the Slovenian Olympic Team. The campaign was first created in 2019, and then recorded at the end of the year, before the pandemic. The pandemic itself did not impact the concept of the campaign, but there were some logistics challenges, because all planned activities and obligations to Olympic Team sponsors had to be postponed until 2021. The OCS sees as the greatest challenge the implementation of the Slovenian Torch project as this was the most complex Slovenian sports project to date. Unfortunately, the Slovenian House project could not be carried out in Tokyo due to the pandemic.

A special recognition of the jury went to the project ‘Mind of Steel – Slovenian Torch’ by SIJ Group, with the sponsors OCS-ASF.

The participants from each applicant country that qualified for the competition of the European Sponsorship Association (ESA) in the category “Best of Europe” are the best Serbian project ‘Doncafe Sponsorship and the Serbian National Olympic Committee’ and the already mentioned best Slovenian sponsorship campaign ‘I’m not missing anything’, which won a silver award this in March this year.

Entries in all categories are reviewed and evaluated according to predetermined criteria by an international judging members: Andy Westlake (Chairman at ESA), Lea Lipovšek (Partner Marketing Advisor at Microsoft), Tina Cipot (Head of Corporate Communications at Lidl Slovenija), Uroš Stanić (Marketing Consultant at HNK Rijeka), Matjaž Germ (Creative Director at Agencija 101), Olivera Nikodijević (Marketing Consultant), and Urban Kramberger (Manager at the Laško brand group).

More information about SPORTO Awards you can find here.