Big Break for Small Business by Digitas New York for American Express

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Big Break for Small Business

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Industry Banking & Financial Services
Media Digital, Interactive & Mobile, Case study
Market United States
Agency Digitas New York
Released June 2011

Awards

Clio Awards 2012
Interactive Social Media Silver

Credits & Description

Category: Best use or integration of digital media
Advertiser: AMERICAN EXPRESS
Product/Service: AMERICAN EXPRESS OPEN
Agency: DIGITAS
Creative Lead: (Digitas)
Promotional Lead:
Social Media Build Partner: (Stuzo)
Video Production House: (Crew Cuts)
Public Relations Agency Of Record: (M Booth & Associates)
Media placement: Online Campaign - Online - 21 April 2011

Campaign Description

Branded Content has become a very common practice in US marketing. Often brands approach this tactic by generating entertaining material and then integrating the brand into the messaging. Essentially, digital product placements.

Some marketers take a more progressive approach, creating authentic branded content that centres around people, not the brand. This type of branded content lets the audience experience and connect with the brand’s core values. And the stronger connection the audience makes, the more likely they are to share it.

Effectiveness
Social media has become increasingly vital to small business survival. However, there’s a literacy gap that keeps many businesses from utilising their full potential.

American Express OPEN’s mission has always been to help small businesses do more business. Recognising the opportunity, we partnered with Facebook to create 'Big Break for Small Business': an educational programme that offered everyone access to the best social media resources, and gave 5 small businesses a trip to Facebook Headquarters for hands-on training, plus $20,000 to invest in social media.

We put out the call on Facebook. In a progressive approach to branded content, we put the small businesses at the centre of the campaign, not the brand. Told their stories. Made them the heroes. And it worked. Small business owners across the country recognised the unique opportunity and 11,000+ entered. Expert judges from American Express and Facebook, along with Guy Kawasaki and John Batelle, narrowed the field to 10. Then the Facebook community chose 5 winners. For each finalist, we created a comprehensive marketing kit—including sharable videos and social media tools—to help them campaign for votes.

50,000 votes, 500,000 video views and 39.5m press mentions later, we had our winners. At Facebook, they worked one-on-one with experts. This 2-day experience empowered business owners with actionable recommendations and the knowledge to enhance their social media presence.
Back home, the winners applied what they learned, creating sponsored stories, hosting events, and improving their tabs, quickly seeing increased sales and doubling their fan base.
Then the winners went a step further and became experts themselves. Teaching classes. Writing articles. Becoming social media evangelists.

What started as a simple plan to provide social media education became so much more, igniting the passion of the small business community and their supporters everywhere.

Implementation
Our audience connected with Big Break for Small Business on both emotional and business levels. Trailer videos spoke to small businesses owners’ (SBOs) desires to succeed and demonstrated how social media could help them achieve their goals.
Both SBOs and consumers were drawn to the finalist videos, which highlighted 10 deserving SBOs. We told human, relatable stories, putting these amazing SBOs at the centre. Other SBOs identified with them and their challenges, while customers were reminded of their favourite, neighbourhood small businesses. The ability to help these businesses achieve their goals impassioned users to vote, share and promote the programme.

Outcome
As a result of our social media marketing, over 11,000 businesses entered the contest during the 2-week entry phase, 177% higher than projections. During the 2-week voting phase, the sharable finalist videos were viewed over 628,000 times.
Big Break saw over 1.2bn programme impressions across paid, earned and owned channels, including 39.5m in PR. Big Break participants reported significant increases in sales (up to 100%). Finalists saw an average of over 100% increase in Facebook fans, creating new relationships with potential customers and driving more business.

And best of all, Big Break winners continue to pay it forward, sharing their new-found knowledge with the greater small business community. They taught classes, wrote articles, created online communities and became social media evangelists.

OPEN and Facebook continue to work together, educating and inspiring small business owners to use Facebook’s business tools through a national road show. This programme leverages case studies and learnings from Big Break.
Recently, Mark Zuckerberg selected Big Break as one of the best ways brands are using Facebook to genuinely add value, not just advertise.