And The $1.5 Million Winner Was … “What’s #EsuranceSave30?”

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Now it can be told. The tweet that earned a Northern California man a $1.5 million pallet of cash from Esurance’s post Super Bowl promotion was … “What’s #EsuranceSave30?”

Perhaps not the most resonant marketing message, but Esurance is still very pleased with the results of the campaign that created the Super Bowl’s most-tweeted hashtag. If you need reminding, here’s the campaign’s tale of the tape:

  • The hashtag got 5.4 million Twitter mentions during the 36 hours after the Super Bowl
  • It was responsible for 2.6 billion worldwide social impressions and 550 million impressions from other media
  • It fueled follower growth of nearly 3000%, @esurance going from 9,000 followers to a high of 267,000

Esurance’s motive for the promotion? To raise public awareness of a brand that lags in name recognition in the hyper-competitive insurance industry, explained Josh Raper of  Leo Burnett, the agency that created the campaign today in Austin at a South by Southwest Interactive session.

So check that off the to-do list.

“If you have an awareness issue, 2.6 billion social impressions go a pretty long way,” Raper said. “The great part about it was that it was organic. You saw people conversing online. You saw somebody post ‘I want a new car’ or ‘I want to pay for my college education, #esuranceSave30.’ ”

Personal pleas didn’t hold any sway, however. Esurance worked with Twitter and social media data cruncher Mass Relevance to make sure anyone who used the hashtag was entered into the contest. And the winner was picked at random.

The SXSWi session, which also included Esurance vice president of advertising Nancy Abraham, Twitter director of online sales John Ploumitsakos and Jesse Dillow, associate creative director of Leo Burnett, filled in details about the quick-hitting campaign.

The idea — to give away the $1.5 million savings for booking the first TV advertising spot after the Super Bowl game instead of an in-game ad — came only six weeks before the game. With a tight deadline and uncertainties about the wisdom of exposing their brand to the untamed wilds of social media during the year’s biggest event, Esurance gave the green light.

Abraham explained: “The person who leads our social media strategy said ‘Be afraid and do it anyway’ and that’s really what we did.”

The keys, Raper said, were to create a participative event with the Esurance brand at the center of the conversation and to make sure that people were watching after the game. To prime expectations and guard against people turning off the TV after a blowout (um, yeah), they created video teasers to let people know to expect something big from Esurance after the game and spread the word via social media.

Then the ad ran …

… and the response was immediate and overwhelming. Raper said there were 224,000 mentions of the hashtag in first minutes after the ad ran. The hashtag was a worldwide trend for two days.

Said Ploumitsakos: “It’s a great example of everything we are trying to do. To be a live, public conversational platform. And even though this particular initiative was short term, I think the lasting effects will go on for a very long time.”

Postscript (March 14): After the session, Esurance weighed in with a post on its blog that included an infographic  (below) about  “the little hashtag that could” and a reminder that its social media effort isn’t merely a platform for stunts. The main goal is customer service:

… if you look past those high profile events, you’ll see that we’re on Twitter and Facebook 24 hours a day, talking to customers, answering questions, and helping them solve their insurance issues in a way that only we can — by being approachable, fast, and responsive. In fact, our @esurancecares Twitter handle is devoted entirely to customer service. And we have the fastest Facebook response times in the industry.

The folks responding on those platforms are the same licensed agents you’d talk to over the phone or online. Social media simply provides our customers with one more (superefficient) way to get in touch.

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About The Author

Martin Beck was Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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