How Snapchat Stars Helped Sell a New Star Wars Toy


Sphero and Naritiv helped launch the new BB-8 toy on ‘Force Friday’ using Snapchat influencers

Many marketers are intrigued by the possibility of advertising on Snapchat, and a few have even paid top Snapchat influencers to feature products in their videos.

But one company, Sphero, just pulled off a global Snapchat campaign that generated over 10 million views in just 24 hours. Plus, the company’s product sold out in stores in a matter of hours by working with just five Snapchat influencers.

Of course, it helped that what Sphero was selling was a new hot toy: the BB-8 droid featured in the wildly anticipated “Star Wars” movie, which hits screens in December.

And it also goes to show that in social media, as in real life, it helps to have the right friends. Sphero had spent time last year in a startup accelerator program run by Walt Disney Co., the media giant behind the next “Star Wars” films. Sphero executives connected with Disney’s chairman and chief executive Bob Iger, who happened to be looking for a company that could build a toy that incorporates BB-8’s rolling ball-like body. Sphero, which specializes in making connected entertainment robots, was also in the program with Naritiv, a startup that was forming a network of top Snapchat creators eager to connect with major marketers.

“We just really wanted to learn from Disney about how to tell better stories and build better products,” said Ross Ingram, community manager at Sphero. “And there was this magical series of events that came together.”

Disney eventually tapped Sphero to build the BB-8 toy, which retails for $149.99. And when it was time to market the toy’s release a month ago on “Force Friday” in 14,000 stores across the globe, Sphero dialed up Naritiv to help spread the word on Snapchat.

“[Naritiv] really makes it a place where brands can tell a story,” said Mr. Ingram. “And they can help them with all the analytics and data.”

A Snapchat video featuring a ‘Star Wars’ character PHOTO: SPHERO

A Snapchat video featuring a ‘Star Wars’ character PHOTO: SPHERO

Sphero didn’t run any paid advertising during the event on Snapchat. Instead, Naritiv had Snappchatters in Paris, London, Dublin, New York and San Francisco post videos throughout the day either featuring shoppers camping out waiting to buy BB-8 toys or generally teasing the event. Among the influencers Naritiv worked with was Shaun McBride, who is known in social media as Shondurasand gets 2 million views a day on Snapchat.

Naritiv looked to connect Sphero with Snapchat talent who had large followings and would bring enthusiasm to the product--in this case, a toy droid you can control with an app on your phone.

“We found people who love to travel and like tech, but more importantly they were all Star Wars fans which we thought would completely go crazy for it,” said Dan Altmann, Naritiv’s co-founder and chief executive. “Snapchat is almost like a hyper reality, and it’s hard to fake it. This is your life you are filming. It’s not a scripted comedy. So [if you fake it] it’s gonna show really blatantly.”

Something worked. Not only did the campaign well exceed the expected 6 million views in one day, but it also resonated outside of Snapchat, as people took screenshots of the videos and shared them on other social media like Twitter. Mr. Ingram said that the campaign generated half a million engagements outside of Snapchat.

Of course, he realizes this won’t be easily replicated. It’s not every day you have the toy marketing power of Disney, plus a movie franchise with possibly the most build-in consumer awareness.

But Sphero still believes it came away with a ton of valuable lessons about how to market to ever-elusive millennials and younger demographic on the still very young Snapchat platform.

“This is one piece of a 360-degree marketing plan,” he said. “And yes, the product is so amazing. But at least we got to see what Snapchat means to us.”

[By Mike Shields] [Read More] [First Image from AdWeek]

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