If you followed the first round of the NFL Draft on Twitter last Thursday, you noticed something a bit odd (but, expected for those of us in the marketing world).
More brands were showing up in our feeds connected to the players getting drafted.
Tide’s #OurColors campaign was one of several throughout the night, but also one of the more interesting from a variety of viewpoints.
At first, I thought it seemed awfully forced. And, personally, I think it’s weird for these kids who have been dreaming about this moment since they were 5, to be making sponsored tweets just seconds after that big moment.
But, once I started digging in, things got interesting. I mean, Tide has been at this #OurColors campaign for a couple years already. But, to my knowledge, they’ve never done anything like this on Draft Day/Weekend. They also have a partnership with the NFL–this doesn’t even come close to happening without that, given the access to the players they now have. That’s a huge–and most likely very expensive–piece to this case study puzzle.
Given all that, I still thought it was an interesting case study. So, let’s dive in and look at what worked for Tide this past weekend:
Although I have no “insider knowledge”, you have to think one of Tide’s key goals with this campaign was around engagement. And, say what you will about the campaign, but if you look at it from that perspective, it worked. I mean, this Melvin Gordon tweet had 1,000+ favs and 500+ retweets. Now, those aren’t gaudy numbers, but when you consider the @TideNFL Twitter account has just under 5,000 followers and tweets regularly see under 20 RTs, you quickly see the benefit. Tide made the strategic decision to use their “brand ambassadors” (NFL players) instead of their owned accounts, as a means to drive engagement. They could have just used promoted Twitter products to blitz the hell out of us on Twitter over the weekend, but this approach worked much, much better.
The other goal for Tide on Twitter is most likely around awareness. After all, they’re not selling Tide online, right? The likely measure here is probably impressions. If that’s true, I think this is another win. Given they had a long list of not only draftees tweeting on draft night, but also current players, the impressions numbers have to be huge. Case in point: Clay Matthews tweet below congratulating Demarious Randall on becoming a member of the Green Bay Packers. Matthews has 820,000 Twitter followers. @TideNFL, again, has just under 5,000.
— Clay Matthews III (@ClayMatthews52) May 1, 2015
Winning on Twitter without a meaningful account
As much as I thought the idea of NFL players celebrating the biggest day of their lives (draft day) with a sponsored message rung hollow, the idea of Tide running this account without a big presence on Twitter is kinda brilliant. In essence, what they’ve said is “we don’t need a Twitter handle for this campaign–we’ll just have our brand ambassadors do it for us.” And keep in mind, it’s not just the guys who were drafting who were tweeting. Because, let’s be honest, outside of the fans of the college they played for, who’s following those people right now (I mean, Demarious Randall could have been the bus boy at Applebees for all I knew until I just researched him two minutes ago)? It’s also the EXISTING players (like Matthews above) who were contributing to the stream all weekend. Like Chicago Bears RB, Matt Forte (see below. Again, parts of this approach were really smart.
Now, let’s look at what didn’t really work:
Does this really do anything for Tide?
The danger with hitching your entire campaign to engagement and impression metrics (if that’s really what Tide’s doing here), is that it’s fairly flimsy. Sure, those impression numbers are gaudy. Yeah, those engagement numbers are going to look AWESOME in that TPS report for your boss. But at the end of the day, what is that really doing for Tide? Is it selling more units? Is it raising the brand’s profile among a group that may have lower awareness of their product? Maybe. But, do you really think that many people noticed the @TideNFL handle in tweets? Did people really even know what #OurColors meant? Will that impact sales or purchase decisions at all? I’m not so sure. From a certain perspective, this seems like a big metrics grab.
Forced real-time marketing?
Here’s the thing. Some of this felt forced. Dante Fowler’s tweet here–forced.
— Dante fowler (@dantefowler) May 1, 2015
Again, Trae Wayans tweet upon learning the news that he’s joining my beloved Vikings and is now an instant millionnaire? Forced.
But, then you look at DeVante Parker’s tweet here, thanking the University of Louisville and its fans for supporting him the last few years? I don’t know–not so forced. At least that’s a message he may have sent anyway. You just stick the #OurColor and #Spon tags on there, and it’s really something he’s probably say anyway.
— DeVante Parker (@DeVanteParker09) April 30, 2015
So, what do you think of this campaign? Pretty interesting, right? Rubbed some people the wrong way on draft night (mostly marketing folks, like us). But, the average fan? I think it probably played well with them–I mean, look at the impression/engagement metrics, right? If nothing else, it’s an interesting campaign from the strategic perspective of allowing your brand ambassadors to carry the water for you–certainly Tide has paid for that, and they’re seeing results.