Snapchat has been a hard platform for marketers, brands and teams to crack. The platform has challenged creative standards. It has focused more on audience and storytelling versus organic brand growth. And, it gives very little to no data to marketers. The struggle has been figuring out what the unique POV is, aside from “behind-the-scenes” look at games and events, along with the ROI.
On the flip side, the limitations and nuances also challenge marketers to think outside-the-box. Capturing attention on Snapchat requires vulnerability, strong storytelling and cultural context.
A few weeks ago the Chicago Bulls brought to life an idea that stood out from all the clutter. It was an idea that was right for Snapchat– but even more, completely original for the industry. Aligning with the launch of Beauty and the Beast, they released their own version of the musical. Watch the magic below:
Beauty and the Bull, a Snapchat Musical should win an award
— Hector Diaz (@iamHectorDiaz) March 23, 2017
This Snapchat play from the Bull wins on many levels. First, they took a cultural moment and put their own unique + relevant brand spin on it. Second, they brought to life the story without overproducing (natural + right for the platform). And finally, it’s a completely fresh and compelling idea.
Luka Dukich, the Chicago Bulls digital content manager, took time to answer a few questions behind the musical and how it all came to life. There’s a lot to learn from their approach, so enjoy his insights below.
1. What’s the team’s overall approach + strategy to Snapchat?
As with all our social platforms, we want to create differentiated content that sets us apart from what everyone is doing, while still feeling relevant to the platform. We don’t just want to do what everybody else is doing; we push ourselves to think bigger, better and different. We’re fortunate to have a large following on Snapchat with fans around the world tuning in for a peek at the Bulls. We give those fans a variety of different content centered around the team and our players. We do of course use Snapchat like the other teams do in that we’ll provide a behind-the-scenes look at the team, a few Snaps of the game itself from courtside and in the stands, that kind of thing. But we really wanted to find ways to utilize the platform, show people something they haven’t seen before and not just get stuck in the routine of doing the same type of content over and over again.
2. How did the idea for Beauty and the Bull come about?
It came from the strategy of wanting to show people something different, something we and they haven’t seen before. Before this season started, we came up with a concept of doing narrative ‘skits’ on Snapchat – pre–scripted stories that were made specifically for the platform, rather than using Snapchat to record an event that’s already happening. We brought the idea to one of our partners, BMO Harris Bank, who have been willing to dive in and do these ambitious digital content ideas with us. They jumped right in the deep end with us, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
We tested it out the day before the season started with a story of Benny the Bull trying to get himself in shape for opening night. It was a small and pretty goofy story, but people seemed to really like it. The response we started getting made us realize people were really following along with a story, and it made us realize we had something there. We spent the next few months coming up with some other concepts for Snapchat stories, and our ideas kind of evolved from there. At one point we knew one of the stories we wanted to tell would be a Snapchat musical, though there were varying opinions even internally about how well a musical would even work in this format. We wanted to be able to tell a story that people were familiar with and do a parody of an existing musical, and with the movie due to be released we thought it was the perfect fit.
3. Out of all the platforms, why did you all decide Snapchat was the right play for this?
Every platform has different strengths, but we just felt that this would be something so new for the Snapchat platform that it would make the biggest impact doing it on there. We also built this specifically for ‘Snapchat Stories’ – with part of our thinking being that the product was called ‘Stories,’ despite very few people actually doing any kind of traditional storytelling there. I think there are a lot of creative people and teams on Snapchat, but we hadn’t seen anything like this, so we were really excited to bring a different approach to the medium. The other big positive for us (and our partner, BMO Harris!) is that when fans are watching on Snapchat, you have their full attention – their entire phone screen is Snapchat. While on some of the other platforms you can scroll through quicker or not be paying full attention, we knew if you were watching on Snap, we’ve got your attention.
4. One of the many things I loved about Beauty & The Bull was that you executed through the app itself with raw, lo-fi content (which feels authentic to users). Still, you all still executed extremely well.
What tips do you have for teams trying to create authentic, but quality, content on the platform?
We wanted this to look human – like you can do this yourself if you so desired. This isn’t some super-produced piece of content that we used a ton of expensive equipment to film and then we chopped it up and put it on Snapchat. We shot this with a phone, and played the music through a speaker next to the phone, and it was so lo-fi that it looks like every other Snap video your friends are posting. I think if you’re authentic to the platform, people will respond to it. It’s way cooler and more relatable to see something like this, shot through a phone, than some camera very few people have access to. Quality and authentic content doesn’t necessarily always mean meticulously produced – just be natural and true to the platform, and don’t try to force it, or else you might end up looking like Steve Buscemi in this GIF:
5. What advice would you give to a team that is hesitant to go all on Snapchat?
I would just say it’s important to have a plan. Don’t just have one just to have one. But it’s just another medium where you can be creative, reach people and tell stories. It’s right there for you – all you need is a phone.
6. What are the keys to pushing out-of-the-box thinking with your team?
We’re fortunate to have a huge audience, but we have to keep that audience engaged. To do that, we want to continue to give them things they haven’t seen before. It’s important to us that our internal teams feel like it’s okay to fail, as long as you’re failing trying something new and learning something in doing so. This gives us a lot more ability to sell through ideas where we’re the first to bring them market. We’re not asking “Who else has done this?” as a way of validating any of our ideas. We’re lucky to have a great team here organization-wide, and people who are willing to do things that are quirky or a little more out there, as long as we can explain why we think that they will work. Most importantly, if you believe in the idea, other people will too. It sure helps when you work with a partner like BMO Harris Bank, who trust our team and have proven multiple times that they are willing to go in on something like this with you as well – it encourages and empowers our team to continue to think of ideas outside the box.
A big thanks to Luka Dukich of the Chicago Bulls for taking the time to answer questions. You can give him a follow on Twitter here: @itsluka.