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, and then radio ads, in the United States, in 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, being derived primarily from 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 a given entry appear publicly during the calendar year in 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 of the 1991 Clio Awards 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 more than 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 he was not a polished speaker and it was obvious that we he was inebriated. Print ads were the first awards; transparencies of the winning entries were displayed. 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 emcee 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.[2][4]

The event for television commercials, scheduled a few days later, was called off.[2][4]


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. As a concession to the 1991 winners who had not yet received the trophies, 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 Clio in 2009, when it acquired magazines Adweek and Billboard (among others) from Nielsen Business Media.[12]

In 2010, Nicole Purcell was appointed Executive Director of Clio and Brooke Levy was hired to run marketing for the organization. Together they have been credited with reestablishing Clio as a best-in-class creative program. In 2015, Nicole Purcell was promoted to President.[13]

Clio is currently part of MediaBistro Holdings, a group that also includes Adweek and The Film Expo Group, and is owned by Guggeinheim Partners.[14]


In 2014, Clio assembled a 50/50 male-female jury made up of more than 70% international (non-US) judges.[15] 2014 was also the year Clio began holding judging sessions internationally. The 2014 judging session took place in Malta, and the 2015 session will take place in Tenerife, Spain.

The Clio judging process is known for its rigor. Fewer than 20% of submissions within a media type make it past the first two rounds. From there, juries reevaluate the work to determine Gold, Silver and Bronze winners, along with the Shortlist. Less than 5% of all entries receive a statue, and less than 1% receive the Gold. Each jury also has the option of awarding the highest honor, the Grand Clio, to one exceptional piece of work in each media type, from the Gold statue winners.

Clio stated, in 2007, that 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.[16]

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


  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 "Advertising The Collapse Of Clio" Time magazine, July 1, 1991
  3. ^ a b c d 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 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. ^ "CLIO Names Nicole Purcell President". Reuters. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "Adweek Parent Company Buys Mediabistro Editorial Assets". AdWeek. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "CLIO Awards 2015". Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  16. ^ "About Clio" Clio 2010

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