Entertainment Lions For Sport > Branded Content for Sport


TBWA\CHIAT\DAY , Los Angeles / BOLT24 / 2021


Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

We created a hilarious, first-of-its-kind Award Show, leveraging two of the most popular entertainers in the game, as well as a slew of basketball stars to introduce athletes to the real ingredients and the real attitude of the realest hydration in the game, BOLT24.


BOLT24 is a new hydration offering that has real ingredients. It has positioned itself as the realest hydration in the game. But, functional and rational arguments for the product won’t be enough to gain attention and preference among athletes. So, BOLT24 wanted to take advantage of a sports culture moment, NBA All-Star Weekend, and introduce the attributes and attitude of the brand to their audience in a way that didn’t feel like advertising.

Describe the creative idea

We gave BOLT24’s “real” take on NBA All-Star Weekend by creating the first-ever award show exclusively for Instagram Stories. The BOLT24 Real Star Awards honored the best in the hoops game in “real” categories other award shows would never touch (e.g., “Player Most Likely to Wear a Sweatsuit to a Wedding” and “Player Most Likely To Have A Barista Side Hustle”).

The event was hosted by Desus Nice & The Kid Mero and featured appearances by 20 NBA/WNBA players and personalities (plus NFL greats Peyton & Eli Manning). The show was designed as a series of 15-seconds-or-less Instagram Stories versions of all the classic award show tropes, like acceptance speeches, musical numbers, and in memoriams.

The show demonstrated why BOLT24 is the realest hydration in the game and did so by leveraging personalities and platforms that our athlete target loves.

Describe the strategy

We needed to develop an entertaining social experience to stand out during the NBA’s most entertaining weekend of the year, and nothing screams entertainment like an award show.

We chose Instagram because it’s the favorite social platform of our core 18–24-year-old audience, making it a logical home for our activation. We saw a unique opportunity to create a new kind of experience, leveraging the native engagement features of Instagram Stories (e.g., Quizzes / Polls) to make a pre-recorded show feel like an interactive, real-time event.

As a new brand establishing its social presence, partnering with the right hosts to bring the show to life on their Instagram channels would be critical. Desus & Mero are passionate basketball fans and the hottest, most real duo in late night, with a huge fan base that overlaps with BOLT24’s target. Their 550K+ combined followers allowed us to dramatically increase our organic reach.

Describe the execution

In the days leading up to the show, we published teaser content to both Desus & Mero and BOLT24’s social channels. To drive increased tune-in, we leveraged Instagram Stories native Countdown sticker 24 hours before the show kicked off.

To make the Real Star Awards feel like a true primetime award show, we published content for the show steadily over the course of two hours the night before the NBA All-Star Game.

In total, 72 unique Instagram Stories assets were published across @DesusNice and @TheKidMero, including 21 award presentations and acceptance speeches, six interactive polls and quizzes to encourage viewer engagement throughout the show, and four BOLT24 commercial breaks.

When the “broadcast” disappeared from Stories after 24 hours, we compiled the individual tiles into a long-form video that was posted to Desus & Mero and BOLT24’s IGTV feeds and YouTube channels to extend our reach beyond the live moment.

Describe the outcome

The first award show on Instagram Stories was a huge success, connecting BOLT24 with basketball culture.

Campaign content (the award show + organic pre/post-promotion posts) generated more than 1.5 million cumulative organic impressions. Press ran with the story as well, earning coverage in leading drivers of basketball conversation, like Slam and Uproxx’s Dime Magazine, as well as mainstream sports outlets like Yahoo! Sports and Sports Illustrated, generating over 1.8 billion impressions.

Once people tuned in for the show, they were hooked. We were able to retain 50% of initial viewers for the full 72 tiles (Note: the average number of tiles brands publish in an Instagram Story is five). We saw similarly strong results when Desus & Mero published the full show video to their Bodega Boys YouTube channel, where it generated 40,000+ minutes of organic watchtime, an average view duration of nearly 5 minutes, and 98% positive sentiment.

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