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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

FreeWheel Connects

Entered in Branded Series, Online Event/Activation


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in March 2020, FreeWheel quickly rethought and shifted its entire campaign strategy. With client and employee safety our #1 priority, our team pivoted to a fully virtual event approach and increased our digital marketing efforts.


In the beginning of May 2020, FreeWheel launched its first quarterly virtual speaker series, FreeWheel Connects. The series featured industry executives and thought leaders focused on sharing insights on how to navigate the current media landscape during these challenging times. Speakers included executives from NBC, Unilever, NBA, PGA-Tour, Dentsu Aegis, and AMC Networks.


Through FreeWheel Connects, our goal was to show our commitment to clients and potential partners. We looked to keep them informed about how current events were shaping the advertising industry and how they could adjust their ad strategy to remain effective.


The value propositions of FreeWheel Connects are:


With virtual CES approaching, FreeWheel secured its standing as a thought leader while also combatting CES content fatigue. With this in mind, we wanted to utilize our FreeWheel Connects speaker series and create an impactful content session with top speakers the week prior to CES.

Strategy and Execution

We held a live inaugural episode to start 2021 on a strong note with discussions from Kara Swisher, host of Sway podcast and contributing opinion writer to New York Times, and Dara Treseder, SVP, Head of Global Marketing, Peloton. With these two speakers, our goal was to engage our industry with high impact talent, promote FreeWheel’s thought leadership, and focus on industry key trends.


While past FreeWheel Connects have been pre-recorded, we opted to make this special episode live. Having a live episode would allow us to go big and be the first to kick off the year with relevant live content. Furthermore, we wanted to leverage our existing FreeWheel Connects brand with an elevated, high quality, highly produced “TV” experience.


To promote our event, we launched an email campaign in December 2020 which 

teased our upcoming live webinar and asked clients and potential partners to reserve their spot. We also invited users who had previously subscribed to our blog and insights or attended past events that were held virtually or in-person prior to the pandemic. Our email promotions linked to our landing page on the FreeWheel website where our thought leadership session would be streamed. It also previewed recordings of previous FreeWheel Connects.


In tandem with our email campaign, we promoted our FreeWheel Connects event across our company accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #FreeWheelConnects. Through our employee social advocacy program, employees promoted the event across their social networks with pre-approved assets and suggested copy. With this approach, we felt that paid and organic promotion would build anticipation.


Our live event took place on Thursday, January 7th at 12pm. With over 350 live tune-ins, our general manager Dave Clark, and our two guests Kara Swisher, and Dara Treseder held a raw, in-depth conversation that included everything from how technology has forever changed the future of media to how brands must continue to adapt to a rapidly shifting consumer landscape. 


“Should brands use their platform to drive change?” said Kara Swisher. “There is a push towards the idea of compassionate or inclusive capitalism. It's up to companies to decide if that's the right decision for them. I tend to think it's for the best if they do.”


To keep the conversation fresh, our speakers expanded into further detail on how to embrace change in the new year, empower your teams, rethink what works in this “new normal”, and build a relationship with your audience. They even touched briefly on current events that were happening in Washington D.C. With such an engaging conversion, we live tweeted direct quotes from each of our panelists.


To elevate and differentiate the experience, we also held a 15-minute Q&A where viewers had the chance to submit up to date questions.


After our live webinar, we sent a recap email to all RSVPs along with a recording of the session for those who may have missed it.


Our virtual events may look different from our in-person events, but our live webinar received nothing but positive feedback from clients. As a company, we used this event to elevate our brand and boost thought leadership.


We had over 350 live tune-ins during our event with 59% of viewers being prospects, partners, or clients.


Our overall email campaign had a 20.2% open rate and our confirmation email to all RSVPs had an open rate of 44.10%. We actively promoted our upcoming FreeWheel Connects across all our social channels including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Through our employee social advocacy program, we had over 34,000 organic impressions from employees promoting the event before and after its air on their own social channels.


Following the live event, we had over 600 views of our live recording. For anyone that missed the conversation, they can view the live recording of the event on the FreeWheel Connects homepage by registering to watch it on demand.

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