- Chipotle Mexican Grill and Axe body spray are each hosting social media events tied to the Teen Vogue Virtual Prom, which will go live at 8 p.m. ET on May 16, per separate announcements.
- The Chipotle Virtual Prom Afterparty will follow Teen Vogue's event, which the burrito chain is sponsoring, and be hosted by digital star David Dobrik on Instagram Live at 9:45 p.m. Students can request access to the party at a private Instagram account, @ChipotleAfterParty. The event will have 10,000 code giveaways, product drops, a sweepstakes and special Instagram and Snapchat augmented reality (AR) lenses that let people virtually take a picture with Dobrik, among other features, per an announcement.
- Axe partnered with Rickey Thompson, an Instagram celebrity with 5.9 million followers, on an Instagram challenge that asks high school students to submit videos of their "promposals" with the hashtag #bemyAXEdatecontest. Entrants will have a chance to win an Instagram Live hangout with Thompson, and to attend the Teen Vogue Virtual Prom. Axe also plans to unveil a hashtag challenge on social video app TikTok on May 16, according to an announcement.
Chipotle and Axe's sponsorships of online prom events show how the brands are working to connect with teens who are unable to participate in what has been an annual rite to celebrate the end of high school. Teen Vogue had expected about 5,000 teens to attend its virtual prom, which will feature video chats on Zoom and visits by celebrity co-hosts. Event organizers had worked with high schools to set up separate chat rooms for kids and their friends, ABC News reported. Chipotle and Axe can participate in those social conversations with their respective social media campaigns, especially by working with influencers to promote this week's events for homebound teens whose schools are closed during the pandemic.
Chipotle's after-party is a comprehensive effort that will give Instagram users a chance to win a $25,000 scholarship, which Dobrik will announce during his Instagram Live appearance. As part of its sponsorship of the virtual prom, Chipotle's influencer marketing effort includes a collaboration with DIY creator Sophie Parker who will show teens how to craft corsages and boutonnieres for prom using Chipotle's burrito foil. Teen Vogue will feature the demonstration on its Instagram Story before the event, per its announcement.
The burrito chain is again working with E.l.f. Cosmetics on the prom campaign with the release of a "burrito-inspired cosmetics set" that includes makeup colors to represent Chipotle ingredients and packaging. E.l.f. will sell 100 of the makeup sets from the Chipotle Afterparty Instagram page and its website on May 14. Earlier this month, Chipotle collaborated with E.l.f. on a TikTok campaign for Cinco de Mayo that also featured Dobrik. The #ChipotleSponsorMe challenge asked TikTok users to post videos about why the chain should sponsor them on the viral video app.
Meanwhile, Axe's sponsorship of the Teen Vogue Virtual Prom and related activations on Instagram and TikTok show how the Unilever-owned brand has embraced digital platforms to connect with younger audiences. The brand in February partnered with the Netflix show "Sex Education" to start conversations about dating-related subjects, as part of a broader effort to shift away from traditional ideas about masculinity.
With many people stuck indoors during the pandemic, social media usage has jumped as people use the platforms to stay in touch with the outside world. Instagram and TikTok are especially popular with U.S. teens, making them key platforms for brands that aim to reach Gen Z. TikTok last year said it had more than 26 million monthly active users in the U.S., more than half of whom were between the ages of 16 and 24, Reuters reported. That number likely has grown amid a surge in global downloads during Q1 as the pandemic boosted social media usage. About 72% of U.S. teens use Instagram, making it the second-most popular digital platform after YouTube, per a study by Pew Research Center. Chipotle and Axe can engage those audiences with their virtual prom events, helping to form bonds that could last after the pandemic subsides.