The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards

Thrillist's United States of Awesome

Finalist in Travel & Tourism


Thrillist's mission is to Live Life to the Thrillist, and we achieve that by showing readers how to experience more fun in their lives. We wanted to develop a social video editorial series that entirely embraces the Thrillist tent-poles that our audience has come to understand and trust us on through our written content. United States of Awesome was the result: a social franchise that explores food, drink, and travel through the lens of people across the country who are breaking out of the boredom of everyday life with thrilling, entertaining, or just plain incredible activities that are truly unique to their specific locality.

Strategy and Execution

Thrillist's national coverage has always been unique because we are able to draw from our network of experts throughout the U.S. who create our local city content. These contributors deliver insider knowledge of places to eat, new drinks to try, and incredible activities that only locals know. That same tenet drove "United States of Awesome" ideation.

United States of Awesome debuted as our first custom video editorial franchise and Microsoft teamed up with us to sponsor the series. We created 25 videos that took viewers to a new state and were published in Facebook's Newsfeed. In order to maximize video exposure, states were chosen with a focus on maintaining a regional diversity. We also wanted to deliver exciting stories from unexpected states, as our audience engages with content that surprises them.

After that, for each state, we dug through our own wealth of travel content from the last 10 years, reached out to our contributor network, and talked to more locals to find the completely original ways that locals are taking advantage of their surroundings and breaking boundaries to have fun. In other words, we concepted the videos with the goal of our viewers to seeing each and having the reaction, "You can go there to do that? I have to go!'' -- 25 times in a row.

To select the best featured activities, we relied heavily on what we know our readers like: personality-driven, superlative food topics and adventure destinations with beautiful scenery. This ensured that, even though we were breaking into new territory with video and launching an entirely new franchise, we were staying true to the Thrillist brand and maintaining familiarity with our existing audience.


United States of Awesome was sold to Microsoft for a 25 video run divided over two flights. Since the video franchise was new, Thrillist's Distribution team estimated views based on past travel content. During the campaign, the videos raced to 42 million views -- more than triple our estimated benchmark.

Because the franchise stayed true to our mission of encapsulating all of the content tentpoles of our written content, the United States of Awesome videos were able to be shared on not just Thrillist's main Facebook page, but also on our Travel and Food & Drink Facebook pages. This cross-posting, of course, drove views, but also drastically helped expand our audience. Our main page saw a 25.84% growth during the campaign, the Food & Drink and Travel pages had 55.23% and 57.07% growth respectively.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Thrillist, Microsoft