It started with a Facebook post: Two helmets, one gold and one silver, halved and fused down the center, set against plain black. Then came the 15-second ad, aired during the March 2 episode of “Saturday Night Live”; its first appearance online was through an excited fan’s YouTube video of his TV screen.
Next were the billboards, first seen around South by Southwest and Ultra Music Festival in March, then across the globe, from the Bowery in New York to Old Street in London. Those who spied them shared them, posting pictures to Twitter and Instagram by the thousands; on Reddit, one fan created a map of billboard sightings. By the time the Coachella festival rolled around in April, speculation was feverish.
Quarterbacked by Columbia senior VP of marketing Scott Greer, the rollout took “an analog-to-digital approach,” he says, using paid media offline (like a billboard on Sunset and San Vicente Boulevards in Los Angeles) to drive earned media online (like hundreds of social posts about a billboard on Sunset and San Vicente). The plan worked, with social media spikes following every reveal, including two additional “SNL” spots (another 15-second teaser adding the vocoder line of “Get Lucky,” and an extended 60-second spot showing the robots playing the song with Williams and Rodgers), the Coachella unveiling and the eventual release of the single.
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