Esurance’s SXSW Glove Box Delivers the Cool Factor
Nike at a marathon. Coke at a county fair. Intel at an electronics show. These kinds of endemic sponsorship stories all make sense to us, and to the attendees who frequent the events. But how do you make a non-endemic brand relevant to an event where it traditionally may not belong? Esurance is an online car insurance company that promises customers an intuitive, hassle-free insurance experience. It is also an official sponsor of SXSW. In an effort to bring these two seemingly incongruous things together (because how many hipsters want to talk about insurance at a music, technology and film festival?), the brand focused on its high-tech bona fides.
The brand identified two shared equities between Esurance and SXSW that would drive its solution. One: Time is precious. SXSW attendees want to see as much as possible in a very short window. Esurance is all about freeing up time to do the things you love. And two: Unpreparedness is a pain point. SXSW is big, especially for newcomers, so if you don’t know what to seek out, it can be overwhelming. Similarly, the world of insurance is complex and can be equally overwhelming. The resulting strategy focused on simplifying the SXSW experience through technology to enable attendees to get the most out of their time—and to cultivate a little brand love for Esurance in the process.
The activation played out in two phases. In part one, called the Dream Gig, a pre-event Facebook promotion sent one Esurance fan to SXSW as a brand correspondent. While there, the winner helped produce daily branded recap videos. Esurance leveraged Facebook’s Open Graph SDK to create a fully integrated social content submission platform that drove the entry and amplification process for all entries. This allowed individuals to quickly and easily share their entries to garner votes via their social communities. The strategy also brought the Esurance message to a wider audience through the voice of one of its target customers.
Part two of the plan was called The Glove Box, the brand’s on-site activation. Visitors were asked to complete a short personality quiz to determine their SXSW “type” (e.g., newbie), then were e-mailed custom mobile-optimized daily itineraries recommending panels, films, concerts and other activities. Each itinerary contained a unique scannable QR code that gave participants one chance per day to ‘unlock’ a chance to win prizes contained in a giant, eight-foot Glove Box (where you keep your insurance card, get it?) If a participant unlocked the Glove Box, it lit up in spectacular fashion (revving engine, flickering gauges, shooting steam) to reveal high-end prizes like iPad Minis and Beats by Dre headphones. The entertaining and unexpected prize delivery experience kept participants coming back for more throughout the festival (43 percent of registrants scanned at least twice; 26 percent three times).
The activation earned 295 unique registrations per day and drew 20 to 30 bystanders for each attempt at unlocking the Glove Box. Most importantly, through powerful word-of-mouth, attendees frequently reported seeking out the Esurance Glove Box to sign up because their friends told them to.
Insurance is officially cool.