For Super Bowl 2014, Audi partnered with Huge and The Onion to become the first major brand to achieve a big Snapchat success, garnering one of the fastest-growing followings ever on the platform. The campaign helped Audi drive the most online conversation of any automaker on Super Bowl Sunday and comprised more than 30% of the online buzz about the brand.
Just two weeks before Super Bowl Sunday, Audi asked Huge — the luxury carmaker’s social media agency of record — to come up with a fresh idea for an online marketing campaign to drive Millennial awareness of the brand’s Super Bowl presence. As the first brand to feature a hashtag in a Super Bowl commercial in 2011 and a pioneer of in-the-moment marketing in 2013, Audi needed to continue its mission to be progressive and find a way to stand out amid other brands’ real-time content clutter during the game. In light of these goals, plus the brand’s desire to authentically connect with a new audience, the team decided to leverage a new platform: Snapchat.
The mobile photo-sharing app has exploded in popularity, with its legions of mostly Millennial users sending millions of ephemeral photos, drawings and videos each month. Very few brands have fully embraced the platform yet, and none had used it on a stage as big as the Super Bowl.
But Audi wanted to go for it. The idea for the Snapchat activation was simple: authentically connect and entertain the Millennial demographic through platform-relevant content to drive online buzz. Our mission was to generate public online conversation through raw, privately-distributed, humorous content to stay above the fray of overly-produced marketing messages flooding users’ Twitter feeds.
Within the last week before the big game, a plan came together fast. We partnered with Onion Labs, the in-house creative services division of The Onion, to co-create messages and images for the snaps. Earned media in Fast Company and Adweek created buzz, and we urged people to follow Audi on Snapchat through other social channels.
The snaps were developed by pairing stock photos with clever captions that poked fun at the banality of the typical Sunday and joked about real-time aspects of the game and the halftime show. Despite the fact that it was a digital activation, the process was remarkably low-tech, using only simple photos and a smartphone, in contrast to other brands’ attempts at “real-time” videos and more complex initiatives.
Advertising Age reported that Audi drove the most mentions of any online automaker during the Super Bowl, one third of which resulted from the Snapchat campaign. Many fans shared the private snaps publicly to their followers on Twitter, claiming that the snaps from Audi were the only enjoyable part of the Super Bowl, in light of the lackluster game. The excitement and enthusiasm this created spilled over to other channels, with the brand’s Twitter following growing by 2,500 and Facebook fanbase increasing by 9,000.
Using the app on a single mobile device and accepting new followers manually, one by one, the team added more than 5,500 new followers on Sunday evening alone (in addition to the 5,000 followers added in the previous two days leading up to the Super Bowl). Snapchat told us Audi was one of the fastest-growing followings they had ever seen.
By pioneering a new platform and a more intimate brand relationship with relevant content, Audi drove brand awareness among Millennials on both traditional and social media platforms, generating more online conversation than any of its competitors on the biggest advertising day of the year.
The campaign received 100,000 total views on Snapchat and generated 2,400 mentions on Twitter, reaching a total of 37 million newsfeeds. Thirty percent of all Audi Super Bowl conversation stemmed from Snapchat. The team manually added 9,600 followers to the Audi Snapchat account over 48 hours, reaching a total of 10,500 followers, pushing Snapchat's ability to keep up with the volume of user growth.
Audi's snapchat campaign is honestly my favorite part of #SB48 so far— Denton Baird (@DentonBaird) February 3, 2014
Adding @Audi on snapchat=best decision I ever made.— Stephanie ✝∞ (@StephanieLotter) February 3, 2014
I thought I was pretty good at snapchat. Then I saw @Audi's snapchats.— Michæl (@TheMichaelSims) February 2, 2014