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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

McEnroe vs. McEnroe

Winner in Artificial Intelligence, Extended Reality, Immersive, Visual Effects

Finalist in Branded Content, Earned Media, Event & Experiential

Gold Honor in Creative Use of Technology

Silver Honor in Global Campaign, Integration with Live Television

Entered in Integrated Campaign, Wine, Beer & Spirits


Consumers need to be reminded to enjoy the ride and understand that joy is essential to success and balance lifestyle. What if we could take an athlete known for not enjoying himself, a chance to relive his journey, and remind his younger self of a message we all need to hear.

Michelob ULTRA created the world’s first real vs. virtual tennis match.  In a never-before-seen sporting event, the brand would remind us all to enjoy the journey, by giving tennis icon John McEnroe the chance to relive his. A man famous for breaking tennis racquets out of anger and the pursuit of success, would break new ground by playing five AI-generated versions of his younger self on ESPN, all the while reflecting on his illustrious career and reflecting on the importance of enjoying the ride. 

Strategy and Execution

Michelob ULTRA created and produced the first-ever real vs. virtual tennis match between John McEnroe and five virtual avatars of himself throughout various points in his career. The technological feat required hundred of hours of machine learning and technological advancements to truly replicate the younger version of McEnroe .The 1-hour special was then distributed on ESPN, ESPN+ and ESPN affiliates in 52 countries around the world.

The first-of-its kind branded content broadcast gave ULTRA 1-hour of free media on ESPN and allowed ULTRA to clearly demonstrate the brand's "It's Only Worth It, If You Enjoy It," POV in a compelling, entertaining and technologically advanced way. The broadcast was supported by social/digital assets, a merch line and in-broadcast e-commerce ads for a truly integrated campaign. 


Overall, McEnroe vs. McEnroe became a first-of-its-kind type of branded entertainment and proof that advertisers can enhance and not interrupt consumers by giving them interesting branded content on a trusted platform like ESPN. Results include:

- Broadcasted or streamed in 52 countries around the world.

- 1 Hour of free media time on ESPN and streaming on ESPN+ an estimated $20M in earned media value

- More than 3 billion earned impressions globally (10x the original KPI)

- A 95% organic search lift in Michelob ULTRA during the campaign timeframe

- An 8% positive brand impression lift and a 28% purchase intent lift during the campaign timeframe

- A 15% sales lift during the time of the campaign.

- More than 50K social conversations w/ 99% pos/neutral sentiment

- 120 press stories in 10+ countries


Video for McEnroe vs. McEnroe

Entrant Company / Organization Name

FCB, Michelob ULTRA


Entry Credits