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Award-Winning Ad by SVA Students Draws Attention to Women Athletes

A class assignment last fall has garnered attention, professional accolades and a top award for BFA Advertising students Jack Welles and Olivia Zorechak. Prompted by a brief from faculty member Jack Mariucci as part of his Advanced Advertising course, Welles and Zorechak set out to produce an ad that would make sponsors and viewers of sports aware of the lack of coverage female athletes receive, and created a PSA that earned the enthusiasm and support of sporting goods/boxing company Everlast's marketing team and a Clio Sports silver trophy just last month.

“It’s amazing that we pulled it off,” said Welles of the months-long project that drew on SVA talent and a network of professionals—many of whom worked for free—to accomplish the conceptually powerful and technically impressive spot. “And we did it for nothing.”

Their ad, entitled Invisible Athlete and filmed on location by Welles’s agency (Other NY) partner Peter Pascucci, follows a young boxer through empty New York streets en route to an early morning workout, face and body obscured by baggy sweats throughout the journey. Once at the gym and entered into the ring, a pair of disembodied boxing gloves takes up against a sparring partner, jabbing and weaving, landing serious punches while seemingly floating. The fighter, world champion Alicia Ashley, appears fully fleshed-out only briefly—for less than 10% of the ad’s run-time—specifically drawing attention to the dearth of sports coverage and screen time for female athletes. The ad co-stars champion boxer and trainer Mauraz Auguste. Welles had been put in touch with the athletes, both based in New York, via friends of friends and praised their talent and commitment to the project.

Mariucci notes that the message of awareness is different than that of typical, sports-and-female-empowerment spots. It emphasizes “how little gets noticed or watched and is about something more important than someone just hitting a bag,” he says. “I said go with it—whatever you need, I’ll help.”

Partway through production, Welles and Zorechak boldly pitched their project to Everlast’s CMO, whom they had essentially cold-called and who embraced the project and lent material support. The video was officially put out by Other NY and is currently featured on Everlast’s YouTube channel.

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