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JUNE 27, 2016 / VINCE BOND JR.

Cleveland got its trophy, and slam-dunk ad

When the Cleveland Cavaliers trailed the Golden State Warriors two games to none in the NBA Finals and things looked bleak, ad agency Tier10 shot an inspiring spot for the Northern Ohio Honda Dealers Association about the power of belief.

The narrator declares, “It takes a city to raise a team” and “It takes pain to push us farther.”

The script resonates even more after the Cavs’ historic win. No battle-scarred native Clevelanders were on the creative team, but Cleveland’s sports culture had rubbed off on Tier10.

“We’ve had this account for awhile. When you spend enough time in the market, it’s hard for it not to ooze out and get into us,” said Scott Fletcher, Tier10’s co-founder. “Every time we have a meeting in market, no matter what sports season it is, all they talk about is sports. It is such an important aspect of the culture in Cleveland.”

The agency targeted owners of Hondas and competing import models, via Facebook, YouTube and other sites.

But like an NBA general manager working under a salary cap, Tier10 made a strategic decision not to go after domestic-nameplate owners. Because the Cleveland area is traditionally loyal to domestic brands, going after a Ford owner wasn’t a wise use of funds, the agency concluded.

Tier10 played off the spirit of Cleveland sports fans, or “Believelanders,” when it created the spot. An ESPN documentary dubbed Believeland had aired in May, inspired by the city’s storied history of athletic heartbreak.

Going more than 50 years without a professional sports championship in Cleveland has been tough, said David Waikem, co-owner of the Waikem Auto Family’s eight stores in Massillon, about 55 miles south of Cleveland, and president of the regional association.

When Tier10 showed him the spot, “It literally sent chills up my back. It was unbelievable, and it was so well done,” Waikem said. “My response back was, “Run it, run it, run it.’”