THE X FACTOR USA DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM by Sony Music Creative Services for Pepsi

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THE X FACTOR USA DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

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Industry Soft Drinks
Media Film, Digital, Interactive & Mobile
Market United States
Agency Sony Music Creative Services
Creative Director Laurie Mucciolo Relentlessgenerator
Art Director Jayk Mesler
Designer Levi Bahn
Released June 2012

Awards

Cannes Lions 2012
Branded content & entertaiment lions Best use or integration of digital media Silver

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best use or integration of digital media
Advertiser: PEPSI
Product/Service: PEPSI / VERIZON PHONES & SERVICES / SONY ELECTRONICS
Agency: SONY MUSIC New York, USA
Advertiser PEPSI
Product PEPSI / VERIZON PHONES & SERVICES / SONY ELECTRONICS
Entrant SONY MUSIC New York, USA
Type of Entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best use or integration of digital media
Title: THE X FACTOR USA DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
Advertiser/Client: PEPSI
Product/Service: PEPSI / VERIZON PHONES & SERVICES / SONY ELECTRONICS
Entrant Company: SONY MUSIC New York, USA
DM/Advertising Agency: SONY MUSIC New York, USA
2nd DM/Advertising Agency: SYCO / FREMANTLE MEDIA Beverly Hills, USA
3rd DM/Advertising Agency: FOX BROADCASTING CORPORATION Los Angeles, USA

Senior Designer: Aj Annunziata (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Vice President/Project Management: Arni Sigurdsson (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Executive Vice President: Dan Pelson (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Vice President/Executive Creative Director: Daniel Frydman (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Senior Designer: Dave Eberly (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Senior Designer: Eddie Velez (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Art Director: Jayk Mesler (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Senior Designer: Jen Harenberg-Moore (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Executive Producer: Jim Frenkel (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Head Writer: Jon Reynaga (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Vice President/Marketing/Operations: Jonas Selenis (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Vice President/Commerce: Kevin Kiernan (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Creative Director: Laurie Mucciolo (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Designer: Levi Bahn (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Senior Art Director: Michael Calamusa (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Executive Producer: Owen Leimbach (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Senior Designer: Priscilla Giler (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Vice President/Product: Ted Ferguson (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Chief Technical Officer: Tim Nilson (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)
Senior Art Director: Todd Ryan (Direct To Consumer | Sony Music)

Describe the campaign/entry
Presently branded entertainment in the United States is in its infancy.
This is particularly true of the broadcast television space. In the US, viewers of branded entertainment have grown accustomed to consuming entertainment on open networks such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Projects in the broadcast space have typically taken place on broadcaster owned and operated platforms, which have significantly lower user adoption than open networks. These factors have made it difficult for broadcast-related digital projects to reach audience thresholds equal to those projects that are distributed on open platforms.
In addition, because this project was related to a reality television program with voting there were strict fairness rules brought by the broadcaster to ensure that there was no perception of favouritism towards one contestant or another. This proves challenging when there are certain popular memes that emerge from the show over the course of the season that, if they are contestant-related, cannot be exploited unless it is applicable to all contestants.
Additionally brands and show runners are pushing broadcasters to figure out ways to engage the rapidly growing audience for branded entertainment that exists. This confluence of pressures has brought about an environment that is ripe for experimentation.



Results


Challenge – For the first season of The X Factor in the US, there were a number of challenges presented. How do you take a completely unknown property and build an audience starting from zero? How do you differentiate the show from a crowded field of reality-based talent competitions? How do you overcome fairness and broadcaster-based business challenges to reach the massive digital audience?
Objectives – There were a number of objectives for this project from different key stakeholders. The broadcaster wanted to ensure that sponsors were satisfied with their branded digital execution and that audiences were tuning in to watch the show. The brands wanted to ensure that their investment in the show garnered them credibility and reach within the fan base of the show. The show runner wanted to ensure that as many people as possible were engaged both on official properties and off.
Strategy – The strategy that we devised to meet all of the above objectives was to produce the most editorially sophisticated, useful and polished content for the budget, park the majority of that content in branded ecosystems on the official broadcaster site and use social media to befriend an expanded fan base, sharing the content with them when appropriate.
Execution – For the execution of the strategy, we built a custom property for the broadcaster including sponsor-branded sub-sections tailored to house the particular content streams we had carved out for each sponsor. We put together expert production and social teams both of which were staffed with fans of the franchise, ensuring everything we produced and discussed had the innate perspective and language of the fan. Finally, we embedded the entire operation within the broadcast show’s production




Describe the creative solution to the brief/objective.



The X Factor audience was drawn to the digital branded entertainment via:
1. Social engagement: The largest driver of audience was social engagement. This included a dedicated social staff engaging with audiences and directing them to specific pieces of branded content.
2. Broadcast messaging: The second largest driver was messaging during the broadcast. This included language and graphics that directed viewers to participate in any given number of branded entertainment properties throughout the season.
3. Media buys: The final driver of audience was paid marketing that occurred at the beginning and end of the season to drive particular engagements.




Describe the results in as much detail as possible.



From every perspective, the digital execution around the first season of The X Factor in the US was a terrific success. From an overall perspective, while the show was not a top-10 show in terms of viewership, it garnered the highest social interaction of any broadcast series in the US in 2011. From the broadcaster side, there were record-level spends on digital and all of the first season sponsors are returning for a second season. From a show runner perspective, there was a massive audience gathered to participate with the brand across all digital properties – over 2.5bn impressions over the course of 3 months. Finally, from a brand perspective there, there was massive audience engagement and traction within the digital ecosystem. According to BluefinLabs and AdAge, Pepsi saw a 41% brand lift in social conversations over the course of the season, Verizon saw an 18% bump and Sony Electronics saw their brand chatter rise by 9% during the season.