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Gatorade’s Kenny Mitchell Uses Snapchat to Reach Teen Athletes

Gatorade’s head of consumer engagement employs Snap Ads, Lenses, Filters, and short films to woo customers.

Gatorade’s Kenny Mitchell Uses Snapchat to Reach Teen Athletes
[Photo: Lyndon French]

Snapchat is without a doubt the biggest, most popular, and maybe the most enigmatic platform for marketers to reach the always-coveted youth market. Brands are more than patient with Snapchat on metrics so long as they can see the levels of engagement continue to rise. But it’s not just the sheer number of users Snapchat has that keeps marketers handcuffed to it. Marketers are encouraged by how the company has selectively integrated brands and marketing into its platform so as not to spook its users with terrible ads. Perhaps no one has been as active or as creative a Snapchat marketer than Gatorade’s head of consumer engagement Kenny Mitchell. Mitchell spoke to Fast Company about what works on Snapchat.

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You guys had some great Snapchat projects in 2016—Serena’s Match Point, the Super Bowl filter. What is the platform’s biggest strength as a marketing tool?

While we are actively using other social channels to drive engagement with our consumer, Snapchat is a highly immersive platform that showcases engaging content in real-time, full screen, with sound on. It’s especially appealing to us because of how our teen athlete target consumes media. We know the way they interact with social media is constantly evolving and we have to earn their attention while delivering a clear and memorable message, all within seconds. It’s important for us to have a mix of tactics out there and continually push ourselves to try new things. The way Snapchat consistently evolves their platform, offerings and ramping up measurement/targeting capabilities has made them a key partner to help us achieve the mix we’re looking for.

What kind of metrics are you seeing out of Snap (and how has it improved/changed in the past year)?

We’ve seen great success in past with a variety of programs with Snapchat over the past year. For example, the Gatorade Super Bowl Dunk Lens had record-setting performance, at the time, generating over a 160,000,000 views in 48 hours and far exceeded our expectations. We also saw really strong engagement with the Serena Match Point game where users played over 3 and a half minutes on average, and 36% of those who played the game shared it. Additionally, we produced a 7-minute animated film featuring Usain Bolt, The Boy Who Learned to Fly, and for those who watched the ad, we had a 30% completion rate – which is outstanding for a 7min content piece, especially on a platform built on the foundation of ephemeral messaging and content.

What products are working, and what do you think of Snap’s approach to launching ad products?

So far, we have had good success with Snap Ads, Lenses and Filters. Part of what differentiates Snap Ads is the immersive nature of content that is delivered full-screen with sound on. Another reason we believe the ad platform has performed so well is Snapchat’s clear focus on building the best consumer experience for their uber users first, and consistently establishing a behavior within the platform before introducing an ad product. For example, through the Discover channels, consumers began to learn to swipe up to learn more about a given story. After months of training the behavior of swiping up to learn more, Snapchat then launched Snap Ads that allow for consumers to swipe up to get more/deeper content through a seamless mobile-web experience which, incidentally gives advertisers a ton of flexibility on how to drive engagement. The keen focus on the user experience and establishing behaviors that can then be leveraged by brands to connect to their consumers is an approach that has seemed to work well for Snapchat, their users, and brands.

Why are so many brands so willing to embrace and adapt to Snap’s evolutions? What about their approach works?

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In addition to what I outlined above, the scaled audience of daily active teen and young adult users on Snapchat makes it formidable for brands.

What do you think about Spectacles so far?

Spectacles are a lot of fun! What makes them cool is the ability to capture and relive a memory or moment exactly as your eyes see, remember and experience it—which can feel a bit different than what is captured on a phone or camera. It’s also cool that all it requires is pressing a button on glasses you already are wearing instead of needing to pull out a device in the moment. It’ll be interested to see whether consumers will see enough value, beyond the novelty, of video captured by the glasses versus the phone.

This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.

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