iMedia Agency Awards 2011

Starcom, ESPN, The 2011 NFL Draft

Campaign of the Year

Starcom, ESPN, The 2011 NFL Draft

Last April, things didn't look good for the 2011 NFL Draft. Owners and players were bickering over money, and the annual rite of passage to select the next crop of gridiron talent looked like it would be the only action football fans would see all year. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and the NFL was able to deliver a full season. But regardless of who wins this year's Super Bowl, the biggest winner -- at least in marketing circles -- was ESPN, which went for a big play with a social media campaign in the face of an all-out blitz.

Helping ESPN call the plays in advance of Draft Day, Starcom developed a two-fold strategy. Two weeks before Draft Day, Starcom helped ESPN leverage social interests by unleashing multiple "like" and "Sponsored Story" campaigns on Facebook. That initiative helped ESPN build excitement and grow its audience by cross-pollinating its various Facebook properties. On Draft Day, Starcom put that audience into the game by rolling out a day-of Twitter campaign that focused on social acquisition through real-time Draft Day analysis and discussion.

From a qualitative perspective, ESPN was able to broaden and deepen its Draft Day coverage, bringing the entire football community into a brand-owned conversation. But the campaign was also a quantitative success for ESPN. According to Starcom, ESPN gained an average of seven new followers per minute during the campaign. On Facebook, ESPN generated a response rate that was 67 percent above the benchmark. And in terms of cost, ESPN was able to acquire fans on Facebook at 50 percent below its average, while on Twitter the brand earned followers at a cost that was 37 percent below all other 2011 initiatives.

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