How Chevy found new roads through social & search: Behind the scenes on the Purple Your Profile campaign

More than 2 million people turned their Facebook/Twitter profile purple in support of World Cancer Day earlier this year. Obviously the campaign was popular on social media, so we connected with Chevy’s VP of Marketing, Paul Edwards, to learn more about how it performed for the automotive powerhouse.

The Purple Your Profile campaign helped Chevy to reach a new audience in a truly social and heartfelt way,” Edwards said. The best social media campaigns don’t tell the brand story; they tell the audience’s story. Chevy’s Purple Your Profile campaign not only went viral, it turned passive viewers into active participants. 

The idea for this campaign started when Chevrolet brought their agencies together to forge a plan for the 2014 Super Bowl. They made one thing clear: they didn’t just want to move the needle; they wanted to move people’s hearts. Past Super Bowl campaigns had focused almost exclusively on the vehicles, but this time they wanted to create a connection that was grounded primarily in the human experience and secondarily in the driving experience.

The team established somewhat atypical (for an automotive brand) goals for the campaign:

1. Endear the Chevy brand by showing its human side and personality.

2. Use social media to inspire people to participate in the campaign.

3. “Outlive halftime” by remaining relevant well past the Super Bowl.

The campaign team included Chevrolet and Silverado brand management, Leo Burnett Detroit (Silverado’s creative agency); Fleishman Hillard (Silverado’s social agency); and the Dentsu Aegis Network duo of Carat (research and strategy) and iProspect (performance marketing: search and paid social). As the team brainstormed ways to bring the new vision to life, Chevrolet’s eleven-year relationship with the American Cancer Society emerged as the most authentic way to bring together both the business and human aspects of the brand.

With that piece of the puzzle in place, the multi-agency team went to work designing a fully integrated campaign that would help Chevrolet and the American Cancer Society drive awareness of World Cancer Day on February 4th. The concept was called “Purple Your Profile” (PYP) and included strong creative content that was supported by a thorough paid media strategy.

While enjoying typical Super Bowl grub of pizza, hamburgers, and hotdogs, the entire PYP team was assembled in a war room at GM’s corporate headquarters in the heart of Detroit waiting for the much anticipated “Life” spot to air. When the spot aired, campaign partners from Chevy, Facebook, Twitter, and all the participating agencies watched in real time as the website analytics rolled in – thousands of clicks every few seconds. It was truly an emotional moment as the PYP and client teams did not know how the consumer would react to the spot or campaign.

Results as of 3/1/2014 showed the campaign to be an overwhelming success across multiple metrics:

  • Over 1.3 Million people changed their Facebook profile photo purple
  • Over 700k people changed their Twitter profile to purple
  • Purple Your Profile App generated 45M earned (free) stories in people’s Facebook News Feeds:
    • For every 100 people that Purpled their Profile on Facebook, 37 of their friends saw an earned (free) story in their Facebook News Feed and clicked through to the Purple Your Profile app (37% referral rate)
    • Network news stations across the US (including Fox and ABC affiliates) and major consumer brands (including Energizer, Lowe’s, Men’s Health Magazine, and U.S. Soccer) posted the PYP post to their fans and purpled their own profile image
    • Brands & media properties posted the PYP post to their pages and changed their profile pictures
    • Earned (free) Media Results from Chevrolet’s Facebook page:
    • New likes up 467%
    • Post reach up 321%
    • Engagement up 397%
    • Paid Facebook Media Results:
    • 1.5 Billion impressions served
    • Reached 47.3 Million people who have an interest in cancer and/or charities
    • 1.8 Million clicks on the Facebook ads (includes clicks offsite, likes, comments, shares)
    • Search support for the PYP and Super Bowl drove over 4.4M impressions and just over 80K clicks
    • “Life” commercial still ranking #2 on YouTube with 1.7 million views
    • Natural search leveraged social promotion to increase the speed of indexing in a relatively short period of time; this resulted in over 94,000 natural page views for PYP in 14 days
    • Natural search received top 5 rankings for “World Cancer Day” keywords, resulting in 7.8% CTR from Google alone

The campaign surpassed even Facebook’s expectations. The Facebook team estimated that it would take Chevy four to six weeks to hit their goal of 1 million participants (and the corresponding donation cap of $1 million). Instead, PYP hit its maximum engagement goal in just under two weeks.

The PYP campaign exceeded all of its goals, clearly endearing the Chevy brand to the target audience; inspiring and facilitating audience participation on a large scale across two social media platforms; and giving Chevy a performance asset that continued to be relevant and active beyond the Super Bowl, through World Cancer Day, and into the start of the Olympics.

By tapping into a human story and showing a new side of their brand, Chevy accomplished a great deal within a single, integrated campaign.

Watch our new video on the Purple Your Profile Campaign: