Clio Awards

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Clio Award
Clio Awards logo
Awarded for creative excellence in advertising and design
Country Worldwide
Presented by Prometheus Global Media
First awarded 1960
Official website

The Clio Awards is an annual award program that recognizes innovation and creative excellence in advertising, design and communication, as judged by an international panel of advertising professionals.[1] Time magazine described the event as the world's most recognizable international advertising awards.[2]


The awards, founded by Wallace A. Ross in 1959, are named for the Greek goddess Clio, the mythological Muse known as "the proclaimer, glorifier and celebrator of history, great deeds and accomplishments".[3] They were first given in 1960 for excellence in television advertising by the American TV and Radio Commercials Festival. Each winner received a gold Georg Olden designed statuette. The competition was expanded to include work on international television and movies in 1966, then radio ads in the United States for 1967.[3]

The Clio Awards were acquired by Bill Evans in 1972 for $150,000[4] and the Clios became a profitable "for profit" company.[3] At one point, the company's income was $2.5 million per year, primarily Clio nomination fees of $70 to $100 per entry.[2]

Evans expanded competition by including U.S. Print advertising in 1971; International Print advertising in 1972; International Radio advertising in 1974; U.S. Packaging design in 1976; International Packaging design and U.S. Specialty advertising in 1977; U.S. Cable advertising in 1983; and Hispanic advertising in 1987.[3]

The rules for the 1984 award required that the entry publicly appear during the calendar year 1983. In order to be eligible, Chiat/Day needed to run Apple Computer's 1984 commercial for the Macintosh computer prior to Super Bowl XVIII. In December 1983, Apple purchased time on KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, after the normal sign-off and recorded the broadcast in order to qualify.[5]


Attendees who had paid the US$125 admission price did not have tickets waiting at the door, as promised. Also missing were any Clio officials and Clio President Bill Evans. The event did not start on time; in fact, people stood around drinking, schmoozing, and trading rumors about Evans and the Clio organization for over two hours. Finally, the lights dimmed and the band started playing. A man walked up to the microphone and began to speak. He identified himself as the caterer and announced that the master of ceremonies was a no-show, but that he would give it a shot. It started out well, but after being informed that there was no script and no winners list, he gave up and walked off. A second fellow walked onstage and began talking, but was not a polished speaker; it was obvious that he was inebriated. Print ads were the first awards, and there were transparencies of the winning entries. As each image appeared on screen, the owner of the work was asked to come to the stage, pick up their Clio, and identify themselves and their agency. When the last award in the category was dispensed, the band began playing an interlude and the MC began singing. The audience began booing and throwing dinner rolls, and the drunk staggered offstage. Several minutes passed, but no one took his place. As the people began to leave, one man mounted the stage, strode to the table of remaining statuettes, snatched one up, and waved it as he left the stage. Two other individuals claimed their own awards; then suddenly, the stage was stampeded by a feeding frenzy of advertising executives, intent on the Clios that remained.[4][2]

The event for television commercials, scheduled a few days later, was called off when the Clio Company didn't come up with cash for the facility's deposit.[4][2]

Evans had delegated all responsibility for the Clios to his 11-person Clio staff in 1989. He had stopped coming to the office, and continued to spend money.[4] He was offered loans if he would surrender financial control of the Clios, but he refused. At the end of April 1991, the Clio Company was broke. After going unpaid for most of May, the staff, which included Evans' daughter, walked out.[4][2]

Post-Evans: 1990s[edit]

Clio Award

Clio Enterprises Inc., filed for bankruptcy on March 17, 1992 claiming $1.8 million in debts and indeterminate assets of at least $1 million.[6] Chicago publisher Ruth Ratny purchased the Clio name for an undisclosed figure. Evans had wanted $2 million, and trade publications reported a sale price of $10,000, which Ratny called low. Ratny reorganized the event as the New Clio Awards, and combined what had previously been two events into a single presentation, which was delayed from June until September 1992. . Advertising Age magazine reported 6,000 entries, less than one quarter of the 1990 total, and the number of categories judged was shrunk by 81 to 169. As a concession to the 1991 winners who had not yet received the trophy, their entry fee was waived. The 1990 award show at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts drew 1,800, while only 500 paid for the 1992 show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel,[4] which was hosted by Tony Randall. A total of 86 awards in 73 categories were handed out.[7] Another major change with the "New" Clios was direct competition between U.S. and foreign firms, which resulted in Swiss agency Comsult/Advico Young & Rubicam being named the winner of the best Television campaign.[8]

A bankruptcy court ruled that the creditors of the 1991 Clio Awards should be paid. At the time, Ratny lacked the financial resources to settle the US$600,000 debt. Another Chicagoan, James M. Smyth a former film editor, put up the money and became sole owner of the Clio Awards. On New Year's Eve of 1992, he began working on the 1993 Clio awards show.[9][10] The award ceremony was again delayed until September, and Jay Chiat of TBWA\Chiat\Day, Rick Fizdale from Leo Burnett Worldwide and Keith Reinhard at DDB Worldwide joined the Clio Executive Committee.[11]

The Clios were sold to Dutch-owned company VNU Media in 1997. In 2007, VNU changed its name to the Nielsen Company.[2] e5 Global Media assumed control of the Clios in 2009 when they acquired magazines Adweek and Billboard (among others) from Nielsen Business Media.[12]


Comedian Jerry Seinfeld received coverage for his speech at the 2014 Clio Awards ceremony, where he received an honorary award, as media reporters claimed that he "mocked" and "ripped apart" the advertising industry. The following segment of the speech received particular attention: "I love advertising because I love lying."[13][14]

A CLIO press release on May 8, 2009 announced the CLIO International Ambassadors program to increase awareness of the Clio award outside the U.S. Organizations who represent advertising, communications, design, media and public relations interests in other countries are encouraged to associate with the Clio award and host screening parties or help provide a Clio presence on local social media.[15]

In 2009, a separate CLIO Healthcare Awards extension was created.[16]


Clio states that in 2007 the competition received more than 19,000 entries from all over the world and enlisted a jury of more than 110 judges from 62 countries. Nearly two-thirds of the submissions come from outside the United States.[17]

The judging criteria state that the idea is more important than the actual finished advertisement. Clio winners should be effective sales communication that affects and motivates the viewers and be believable, tasteful, and use imaginative techniques to enhance the message.[3]

A shortlist of entries worthy of merit is developed from all entries submitted, and the names of the finalists are released in advance. From that, the judges vote to award the very best work with statues — bronze, silver or gold. The Clio judging process allows for more than one Gold, Silver or Bronze or, no winner at all within individual mediums (TV, Print, etc.). If judges determine a Gold winner is “best-of-the-best” in the media category, the Grand Clio may be given to that entry.[17]


Grand Clio Award (1988)
Engraved plaque on the 1977 Clio award given to Artie Schroeck for arranging the music in a McDonald's jingle

For the first 32 years, the award ceremony originated in New York City.

The 14" Clio statuette is cast in metal before being plated with gold, silver or bronze. It has a round, stepped base made of black nickel, with an engraved plate containing the recipient's name, agency, year and category.[18] In addition to Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for a specific piece of work, the jury may also award a Grand Clio if one exceptional entry stands above the others in a category.[17] The Clio statuette is manufactured by New York firm Society Awards.[19]

Each year, a Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the industry, and a commercial at least five years old is named to the Clio Hall of Fame. Recognition for Network of the Year, Agency of the Year, Production Company of the Year, and Advertiser of the Year are also bestowed.[17]

In order to be considered for an award, the client or owner of the work must grant permission to be judged; the work must have been developed for a paying client unless pro bono for a non-profit organization; and it must be submitted with a required service charge based on the media category. Entry fees range from $150 for "Student" work to several thousand dollars for an "Integrated Campaign".[20]


  1. ^ Clio Awards: A Tribute to 30 Years of Advertising Excellence 1960-1989/Part 1, ISBN 0-86636-124-3, PBC International, September 1990
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Advertising The Collapse Of Clio" Time magazine, July 1, 1991
  3. ^ a b c d e Carder, Sheri: "Clio Awards" The Guide to United States popular culture, pages 180-181, ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2
  4. ^ a b c d e f Horovitz, Bruce: "Hello Clio, What's New?" Los Angeles Times, September 4, 1992
  5. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (1994). The Mac Bathroom Reader. Sybex, ISBN 978-0-7821-1531-4
  6. ^ Elliott, Stuart: "Bankruptcy Filing By Clio Enterprises" New York Times, March 18, 1992
  7. ^ Elliott, Stuart: "'New' Clios Face a Test Of Credibility". The New York Times, September 14, 1992
  8. ^ Horovitz, Bruce: "Swiss Firm Wins Top Clio Award". Los Angeles Times, September 16, 1992
  9. ^ Millman, Nancy: "Tempo reported on the New Clio Awards" Chicago Tribune, February 22, 1993
  10. ^ Feigenbaum, Nancy: "The Clio Awards is about to get yet" Orlando Sentinel, February 1, 1993
  11. ^ Elliot, Stuart: "ADVERTISING -- ADDENDA; Another Setback For Clio Awards". The New York Times, May 28, 1993
  12. ^ Kelly, Keith: "CLIO awards return to downtown just as advertised" New York Post, May 23, 2010
  13. ^ Ryan Grenoble (6 October 2014). "Seinfeld's Advertising Award Acceptance Speech Mercilessly Mocks Ad Execs". Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Zachary M. Seward (5 October 2014). "Jerry Seinfeld ripped apart the advertising industry on its biggest night". Quartz. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "CLIO Awards Announces New International Ambassadors Program" Reuters News, May 8, 2009
  16. ^ "CLIO Healthcare Awards Moves Underground Basement Nightspot Will Host Industry Honors—Prepare for After-Hours Fun" Press Release, September 7, 2010
  17. ^ a b c d "About Clio" Clio 2010
  18. ^ "Clio Award" R.S. Owens, Custom Awards
  19. ^ Lefferts, Daniel. "Meet the Man Who Makes the Clio Statue". 
  20. ^ "Eligibility & Fees" Clio 2010

External links[edit]