Behind the Making of Beauty & the Bull

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:



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.

Snapchat Doodle Contest from Callaway Golf

Engagement is important on any social media network. After all, the ability to connect with our consumer one-on-one is what sets it a part from other media. This week Callaway Golf hosted a Snapchat doodle contest.  Doodle contest are a great example of how brands can engage with consumers on the platform. For the doodle contest, Callaway Golf shared a picture of their Chrome Soft golf ball, asked fans to screenshot it and then draw a Halloween costume on the golf ball. Fans then shared their creation to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ChromeSoftCostume

This campaign is strong for several reasons. Here’s why it works:

Template Format
Callaway Golf provided users with the same “template” to use for their snap drawing. That helped keep things consistent and guided some direction. When thinking through Doodle contests, figure out how you can provide your fans with a starting point like Callaway did. It might make the contest a little less intimidating too without a purely blank canvas.

Product Front and Center
Callaway found a way to get consumers to share their product (front and center) in a way that is authentic. Anytime you get your consumers to want spread the word, it’s a win.

They Got Fans Engaged
It’s important to find unique ways to get fans to interact and engage with your content on Snapchat. This helps foster a deeper relationship with your fans and will have them coming back to your stories and snaps over and over again. Doodle contests, like this one from Callaway, is a great example of how to get them engaged.

Cross Promotes
Asking fans to draw a doodle and then share the picture on Twitter and Facebook helps to cross promote your account. There’s a good chance that people sharing their images could prompt others to look up your account and grow your followers. Win!

As a side: Consumers are creative. Take a look at some of the stellar entries here:

A big thanks to @HashtagChad for some insight into this campaign. Be sure to leave your thoughts on Snapchat doodle contests below. 

Thanks for reading! 

Snapchat Tips for Social Media + Sports

Snapchat is no longer the new platform on the block. And while it took time for brands and teams to join the party, it is now a staple in many brands’ social media presence.

For those not familiar with the platform, Snapchat is a messaging app focused on sharing “fleeting” moments. Users take a photo or a video, add a caption or doodle and send it to a friend or add it to their Story to share it with everyone. Snaps are set to view for up to 10 seconds, and then they disappear.

There are many reasons your brand, team or league might consider activating on Snapchat. If you are trying to reach a younger demographic, then it is definitely a platform to consider. The platform has 100m+ active users with their core audience being 18 – 24 years old.  Additionally, Snapchat engages users in a more authentic way. Users chose to view your content. The platform has a leg up when it comes to capturing consumers one-on-one attention.

If you decide you want to activate on Snapchat or already have an account and want to ramp it up, here are tips to get you started (with a little help from others in the industry):


Have fun.

Snapchat isn’t a platform where users are debating theory and the world’s meaning. It’s a platform that is meant for light-hearted content, silliness and fun. Take a look around you. Watch people’s phone habits. If you spot someone on Snapchat, I guarantee they’re taking a selfie or showcasing something humorous.

It is important for brands, teams and leagues to mimic user habits. Be native and true to the platform. This means brands, teams and leagues cannot take themselves too seriously if they want to succeed on Snapchat. Two of my #smsports friends said it best:

Bottom line. Think like a fan and have some fun.

NASCAR’s Snapchat account is a great example of a brand that does not take itself too seriously on the platform. They’ve embraced the fun, quirky nature of the platform and found a way to create content that is entertaining— whether or not you’re a NASCAR fan.


Focus on people.

Snapchat content is raw and full of first-hand perspectives. Typically, people and personalities are the center of the content. A people-first approach is a great way for teams and leagues to handle Snapchat. Step away from the ticket sale plugs and promos; let your players and personnel show a peek inside their lives and personalities.

There are many ways to get your people and personalities involved in the content, from “digi” autographs to full Snapchat takeovers. Here’s a look at some people-first content from the MLS (many of this content comes from takeovers):

A great case study for this is @OU_Players. The Oklahoma Athletics Snapchat account has a niche focus: The sole perspective of its student-athletes. Yes, their Snapchat account is in the hands of its players (hence the name). This approach is strong for several reasons. First, it really stays true what type of content performs well on the platform. Forget the corporate promos, @OU_Players is going to be a real and raw. Secondly, it defines a unique niche for Oklahoma’s Snapchat presence, providing a point-of-view fans won’t see consistently on their other platforms. It’s a smart strategy!


Cross-promote the account.

Snapchat doesn’t have hashtags where users can search rich content and stumble upon your account. It’s important to cross promote your account because of that. Focus on promoting it during the launch, special campaigns, unique content initiatives, etc.

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Snapchat has also made it easy for users to add friends through custom QR codes. To add someone, users take a photo of someone’s QR code using the Snapchat camera. Take a screenshot of your account’s QR code from your phone and promote that picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. To add your team account, all a fan has to do is open the app, point the camera at their computer screen (and on the ghost) and tap. You can even customize your QR code with a unique look and feel (directions here). A simple and cool way to cross-promote your account! Below are two examples of customizing the QR code.






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If you don’t promote it, fans won’t find it!


Enlist creatives.

There is a whole world of creative people on Snapchat telling stories through a unique lens and fantastic doodles. Find those creatives who are also passionate about your team, league and brand to enlist them for a takeover during a game, event, etc. Using Snapchat influencers/creative people can help tell the story in a unique way and even bring other people into your account (if they cross-promote).

You can also look internally for people on your team who don’t work in social, but have a knack for drawing or are power Snapchat users. Can they provide a unique perspective and collaborate on the account in a way that adds value? Don’t go at the Snapchat journey alone. Make it interesting. Enlist creative Snapchat users.

If you want to see what a true Snapchat influencer can create, check out Shonduras here.


Engage fans.

It’s important to find unique ways to get fans to interact and engage with your content on Snapchat. This helps foster a deeper relationship with your fans and will have them coming back to your stories and snaps over and over again.

There are many ways to engage fans on the platform. From doodle contests to unique promotions, below are a few case study examples.

Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs asked fans to submit their own doodles of Jamaal Charles for a chance to win a prize. To get more out of the use-generated content and engagement, the digital team used the graphics on their site as a photo gallery for more staying power. This is a great way to engage fans and see their creativity.

Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning participate in an annual tradition surrounding the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs known as the Beard-a-Thon® to raise money for the Moffitt Cancer Center. This year they encouraged Lightning fans to join them in the campaign.

One of the ways fans joined the campaign was to share their beards on Snapchat to LightningNHL or post them on twitter with #BoltsBeards to be featured on the Lightning beard gallery. The Lightning got more than 500 submissions. And like the Chiefs, this was a great way to rally fans and get them involved.


MLS Snapchat Voting
This year the MLS turned to Snapchat to have fans vote for the all-star captain. To vote, all fans had to do was take a screenshot of the player they wanted. The prompt to have fans take a screenshot is a unique way to engage fans, and it definitely works well as a voting mechanism.


Use the features.

Snapchat has several features that make the platform unique from photo filters to doodling. These features are part of what makes the platform fun. Leverage them to make the content stand out.

Unsure how to unlock all the features? Below is a video that shows you unique Snapchat tips from the full color wheel, unlimited text, creating an animation and more. There are many videos like this on YouTube. A simple “Snapchat tips” search will unlock hours of distractions and unlimited potential.


Unlock the geofilter.

Snapchat allows users to upload geofilters, which are special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations. To leverage, simply choose the geographic area you want your filter to be available in and upload an image asset (more info here). Geofilters are a great way to leverage brand ambassadors and have others promote your team. Here’s an example of some geofilters:

MLS actually held a geofilter contest that also ties back to enlisting creative and engaging the community. For the start of the season, the league offered fans the opportunity to design original geofilters for four different MLS markets during opening weekend. To enter, fans had to post their original artwork on Twitter using the hashtag #MLSsnapchat for a chance to win. The league selected one overlay for each market to win. Here’s a look at the winners:


Tell a story.

Snapchat Stories are a way to add Snaps together to create a narrative. Think flipbook. When you add a Snap to your Story, it lives for 24 hours under “Recent Updates” where friends can explore it at their leisure before it disappears. This is the key for brands: Instead of having to send a Snap to every Snapchat friend individually (and spamming them), users and brands can now add a Snap to their Story that lives for 24 hours for their entire Snapchat audience to consume.

Brands and teams can now reach the masses on Snapchat and not worry about one-on-one messaging. This update eliminates tedious work for brands, opens the door for long-form content and allows teams to push out content without annoying their fans (since fans decide if they want to view it.

The key to great Stories on Snapchat is to focus on quality Snaps and an interesting narrative. Do not just throw content on at your fans; think about an interesting way to piece together Snaps that relevant, interesting and fun. James Royer of the Kansas City Chiefs said it best:

Think of the stories at the narrative. Be artful, strategic and add value.


Give a glimpse inside.

Because content on Snapchat is often raw, behind-the-scenes looks work really well on the platform. Find ways to piece together narratives that give fans access; some them something they don’t see through traditional coverage. This will help build a stronger bond with fans.

Takeovers, as mentioned above, are a great way to give fans a glimpse inside. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the players to see who else can host takeovers. From coaches to the operations staff, there are a lot of ways to give fans a look inside the team, league or season.

The Saints do a good job of giving fans inside access from their account:

I hope these tips help you as you brainstorm ways to use the platform. And in case you need a little more inspiration, here’s some additional, awesome Snapchat content from leagues and teams:




What tips do you have for Snapchat? Be sure to share them, along with your favorite follows, below! 

Thanks for reading. 

Iowa State Athletics Does Snapchat Right

Iowa State joined Snapchat in April of 2014. They wanted to reach a younger fan-base, particularly the college students on campus, and they felt like the platform was a great avenue to do so.

Their inclination was certainly right. Snapchat was the fastest growing messaging app in 2014, and the demographics skew young. In fact, a study found that 70 perfect of college students post there at least once a day. If one of your goals is to reach a younger demographic, Snapchat is definitely a platform you should take note of and consider.

Iowa State Athletics’ Snapchat strategy has certainly paid off. They have seen tremendous growth and been able to reach students on campus:

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Picture via Carter Collins on Twitter:

So, what’s their secret? They are thoughtful in how they approach the platform. They don’t treat Snapchat like every other platform; they focus on good content and quirky/fun initiatives that are native to the platform.

“We try and provide engaging content, without being boring,” said Becca McLaughlin, the Marketing Associate for Iowa State Athletics. “It is easy for an organization to get caught in a rut of just showing pre-game warm-ups or previewing an upcoming event by snapping a picture of a flyer. While we do show pre-game/in-game content we try and mix in other engagement like behind the scenes content, student-athlete takeovers, contest, etc.”

What really stands out about the Cyclones’ Snapchat presence is the creativity in how they leverage it. They don’t just push content, but they engage their fans, cross-promote in unique ways and always mix things up. Here’s just a small glimpse into some of their unique Snapchat initiatives:


Student-Athlete Takeovers

The Cyclones have handed their account over to student-athletes several times now for takeovers. The takeovers provide fans with a “day in the life” look at what it means to be an Iowa State student-athlete. I love the concept of takeovers on Snapchat more than any other platform; they are very native to the platform (how most users use it). And, it’s a great piece of behind-the-scenes content.


#cyclONEnation Map

Iowa State wanted to track how many fans from across the country tuned in to watch Iowa State MBB away games and where the fans come from. In order to do this and grow their fan base on Snapchat, they created a campaign called#cyclONEnation Map where they ask fans to help them unlock the map by sending in a Snap from their location. The campaign is cross promoted heavily across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


In-Venue Promotion

The Cyclones don’t just promote Snapchat across platforms; they also promote in-venue through the nifty “take a picture” trick. Cross promotion is key for success on any platform. This is smart:


Hilton Filters

Snapchat now offers geofilters, which are special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations. To leverage, simply choose the geographic area you want your filter to be available in and upload an image asset (more info here). Iowa State Athletics has taken advantage of this feature offering geofilters in Hilton. These are a great way to leverage brand ambassadors and have others promote your team:

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Doodle Contests

The Cyclones don’t just push content on Snapchat, but they also encourage their fans to send them Snaps. One of the most creative initiatives from them are doodle contests where they ask their fans to Snap their best doodles around certain themes. This is a great way to engage fans, generate content and unleash creativity. Here’s a look at two of the contests they’ve hosted:

Thumb Puppet Contest

Birthday Cake Contest



In addition to all of these great initiatives above, one of the keys to Iowa State’s success is cross promotion.

“With Snapchat (and any other SM platform) in order to grow your following you must cross promote on other platforms, but do it in a creative way so what people will want to follow you on your other channels,” said McLaughlin. “It’s important to not give them too much, but just a ‘taste’ of what you have to offer like on Snapchat, that way they will be curious and go and follow you.”

It’s apparent that Iowa State has nailed the Snapchat thing. They have fun, engage with their fans and really push creative and quirky initiatives. If their presence inspires you to start ramping up your approach to Snapchat, McLaughlin has one more piece of advice.

“Like any of our other accounts you have to stay creative and on top of the latest trends,” said McLaughlin. “I think it’s also VERY important to listen to your fans and pay attention to what other successful brands are doing and then tweak it to fit your needs. Don’t be afraid to fail, learn from both your successes and failures and build off of them equally.”

All sound advice from McLaughlin. And, great execution on Snapchat from the Cyclones to serve as inspiration. Now take this advice and start snapping away!

A big thanks to Becca McLaughlin for taking the time to answer questions about Iowa State’s approach to Snapchat. Be sure to give her a follow on Twitter: @beccajoy9

As always, thanks for reading!