At the start of this month Snapchat ran its first "Sponsored Lens" ad campaign promoting the new "Peanuts Movie."
Snapchat, like most its social media cohorts, has been active in rolling out new ad types in a bid to boost revenue, and the Sponsored Lens ad unit allows users to add branded geofilters to their disappearing pictures.
The Peanuts ad ran on Halloween and included a number of interesting creative touches, including filter overlays of Snoopy and Woodstock, the recognizable Peanuts theme song, and “an endless stream of candy corn” flowing out of the mouths of Snapchat users in the images if they used the Sponsored Lens for their selfie.
Twentieth Century Fox blitzed the marketplace with branded marketing beyond the Snapchat ad, and according to analytics firm Unmetric, the overall campaign strategy didn't grab the engagement level that a similar push for the "Minions" movie boasted. Although, the “Peanuts Movie” didn’t suffer at the box office, taking in $45 million on its opening weekend.
Even if the engagement wasn’t what Fox was hoping for, the strategy included some interesting elements, particularly the Snapchat Sponsored Lens targeting millennials and Gen Z.
In an exclusive interview with Marketing Dive, Jason Steinberg, VP of client services at AvatarLabs, the creative firm behind the Snapchat campaign, spoke about the creative process behind this first-of-its-kind Snapchat ad and shared ideas on marketing to millennials.
It began with a brainstorm
“When Fox informed us we’d be working with Snapchat to create the first ever Sponsored Lens, we immediately went into brainstorm mode,” Steinberg said. “All parties proposed several ideas – everything from simple framing elements, to Snoopy taking a selfie, to turning users into Peanuts characters and just about every combination in between. At the end of the day, we wanted to make sure users had the opportunity to interact with the characters that we all know and love.”
One challenge for everyone involved was balancing the 20th Century Fox brand with what Snapchat users expect from a lens. Steinberg pointed out Snapchat users want “interactivity and a bit of zaniness” and the team had to find the proper balance between the Peanuts brand, Snapchat’s audience and the technical limits of what can be accomplished with a Lens. He added that Snapchat was “very involved” with the creative process and ideation of the campaign.
The decision to run a Sponsored Lens campaign was made between Fox and Moxie, its media agency, with AvatarLabs actually executing the creative aspect of the effort. Steinberg explained running a Snapchat ad was beneficial in reaching a younger audience that hasn’t been as exposed to Peanuts as older demographic groups have.
He said, “For Peanuts, it was important to connect with younger audience members who didn’t necessarily grow up with the property. And reaching large numbers of millennials is a real challenge in today’s fragmented media environment. Seventy-five percent of Snapchat’s audience is under 35 and with 100 million daily users, Snapchat is the Super Bowl spot for Millennials and Gen Z – and we expected high usage on a day like Halloween. The trick was how to engage them in a fun and authentic way in an environment that is relatively free of ads.”
The challenge of marketing to millennials
Steinberg described millennials as “the most ad-resistant demographic out there,” saying the group as a whole is blind to ads, media savvy and not easily persuaded, adding getting millennials to engage and take action requires extreme creativity. He also pointed out that native and sponsored content are ad types that do tend to connect with millennials because there is a value exchange of compelling content for attention and good will.
“Integrated campaigns really work. The fundamentals of marketing hold true,” he said about marketing to Gen Y. “Recency, frequency, a compelling proposition and creative delivery still work. The trick is how, where and when you reach them.”
He also mentioned connecting elements of larger campaigns to ensure online, TV and print elements all flow together. And given it’s a mobile first world now, creating reasons to share should be priority one.
“Viral activities work well. Giving millennials the tools to take a brand or property and make it their own resonate. Allowing our audience to become evangelists for brands is the secret weapon,” Steinberg added.
He offered a checklist of questions to ask when marketing to millennials:
- What is the desired action we want from our audience?
- How will our targets learn of our campaign?
- How will the individual interact with it?
- How will it be experienced on mobile away from the computer/TV/print?
- How will it be shared?
- How will we interact with those who engage?
- How will it be tracked?
- How will we take our learnings to evolve our campaign in real-time?
“When we can answer those questions with clarity and confidence, we have a winner. Overall, we want our audiences to want to share and talk about our campaign,” Steinberg explained.
And, what did Steinberg and the AvatarLabs team learn from the Snapchat campaign?
"Dream big and go nuts. Especially when it comes to making a river of candy corn flow [into] someone’s mouth."