Hi Webby Awards judges, this is the case for Steelseries
The Danish brand SteelSeries has been a leader in e-sports gear for 20 years, and its contribution to e-sports gear has changed the game forever. The brand can pride itself on trophy-like achievements such as creating the world’s first ever glass mousepad and designing the most awarded headset in gaming. What’s more, SteelSeries were the first to organize collaboration with e-sports players, and e-sports pros have won more prize money with SteelSeries than any other brand. In short, SteelSeries have long since cemented their position as pioneers in the field of e-sports.
However, until 2021, SteelSeries’ rapid growth had mainly been driven organically by its unparalleled product performance. The successful brand hadn’t started exploring the golden opportunities connected to claiming its brand story and basing it on its unique history and the immense role the brand has played, and continues to play, as a challenger of the status quo in the world of e-sports gaming gear.
As SteelSeries reached its 20th anniversary in 2021, it became clear that there was no better time for the brand to tell the world its Glory Story. For two decades, SteelSeries had fueled the gaming industry by creating innovative new products, designed specifically for e-sports and passionate gamers everywhere. With millions of new gamers around the world constantly entering the market, the brand wanted to find a compelling way to share this heritage. Together with SteelSeries, we crafted an innovative campaign that resonated with gamers across the globe and turned 20 years of brand history into a 20% increase in brand awareness.
The strategy: making ads that gamers want to share
It was clear to both SteelSeries and DEPT® that the brand’s rich legacy was an untapped goldmine of growth opportunity. However, as we ventured into this uncharted territory with a wealth of material to choose from, a number of challenges presented themselves. The main questions were:
- How do we turn this into a cool and engaging story rather than boring self-praise?
- How do we strategically pick the right stories or achievements from the SteelSeries legacy?
- How do we best communicate these awesome stories to gamers who do not tend to watch 30-60 second flow TV commercials?
First and foremost, we needed to find ways to connect with different types of games. It was clear that relevance was the key to success, so finding the right messages and choosing the right channels was crucial to driving and maintaining interest.
The solution: ad sequencing with tailored storylines
To craft compelling content that would appeal to the target audience, we focussed on three elements: enlisting leading creatives; targeting two core target audiences and using ad sequencing for tactical storytelling.
Ensuring that the campaign would feel just as cool as the digital realms in which gamers immerse themselves was paramount. SteelSeries enlisted top-notch creatives to portray the world that gamers know and love; the world of gaming.
Smart targeting for smarter story telling
We identified two core gamer groups and custom built the narratives of the brand story to match their specific characteristics:
- PC console gamers: We showed them that we understand them, that SteelSeries is, has always been, and will always be, a by-gamers-for-gamers brand. This was visualized through a series of gaming moments that make gamers feel glorious – LINK. We also showed them our long line of gaming innovations and how they’ve continued to elevate the performance of gamers everywhere.
- E-sports gamers: We showed them our huge involvement, support and commitment to the e-sports community, centered around the fact that e-sports pros have won more prize money with SteelSeries than any other brand.
Ad sequencing for tactical storytelling in the digital world where gamers live
Having outlined the big idea and how we wanted to customize this message to each of our audience types, we wanted to ensure that we not only met the gamers on their preferred platforms; we also wanted the campaign to stand out as the extraordinary story that it was. It had to be more than just another marketing campaign.
To achieve this, we made use of a number of tactical elements. With first-class visual content, strong storytelling and bold, attention-grabbing statements such as “if you suck, that’s a problem we can’t solve” in place, what we needed was to get gamers to start watching. Initial testing of non-skippable ads showed that these did not achieve the significant impact that we were looking for, so we needed to find a different tactic to pique the interest of our target audiences. Using ad sequencing on YouTube allowed us to divide storylines into shorter segments and craft them into sequences tailored to each target audience to increase the chance of catching the gamers’ attention.
Moreover, if a gamer skipped an ad, we used customized messaging based on the gamer’s previous interaction with the campaign with ad copy such as “we know you skipped our last ad, but you’re really missing out”. As results quickly showed, combining ad sequencing with this approach significantly increased the chance of catching the gamers’ attention and seeing them complete the remainder of the sequence.
The results: 85 million views and a 20% increase in brand awareness
Fast forward a year, and the campaign has been watched more than 85 million times across 30 countries. Moreover, gamers expressed their love for the campaign across social media with comments such as “the first ad I’ve watched in its entirety” and “this is the mother of advertisements”, among hundreds of others.
And the result? A 20% lift in brand awareness, significantly above YouTube and Facebook benchmarks. With the Glory Story campaign, SteelSeries has succeeded in claiming their brand history and harnessing it to boost brand awareness among their core audience. And it’s only the beginning, says SteelSeries CMO Kathryn Martinez:
“Ultimately, it’s been incredible to see that we have a story worth spreading. It took a leap of faith, but thanks to this campaign we know there’s an audience out there that really wants to hear from us. And we have so much more to say – there are many more levels to this game.”
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