In 2021, Shell’s prime objective was to generate new registrations in their Fuel Rewards® program - allowing members to save when they fill up at participating Shell stations. With travel spending dropping below 24% from April 2019 levels (Forbes), we had to drive loyalty registrations and inspire people to get back on the road.
Rather than simply amplifying content, we had to find unique routes to drive Fuel Rewards® registrations through social media. Many of Shell’s primary audience, called Road Warriors (families across the U.S. who are often on the road, whether for commuting, road trips, or simply for day-to-day tasks), are well-known football fans. We had to find a way to intertwine the Road Warrior’s passion for football with the Fuel Rewards® program in an authentic way that would generate the most substantial registration results.
Shell with ESPN launched the 'Football Town Showdown' to find the best college football town. This partnership acted as a tentpole moment for Shell surrounding the key messaging point of getting back on the road, reuniting, and celebrating NCAA College Football.
The team quickly assessed prior campaign performance and audience insights to supplement this partnership and bring this campaign to life on social platforms. Upon reviewing proprietary platform insights, the team swiftly identified a few critical trends across Paid Social; keywords & targeting tactics about college football and athletes consistently generated strong engagement and action. As such, they considered relevant platforms & placements where our targeted Road Warriors audience would go on social media for this type of content and entertainment.
Twitter immediately stood out to support the ESPN partnership. Across key live entertainment and sporting events throughout the world, Twitter, on average, sees a +4.1% lift in unique visitors. In contrast, other social platforms, in aggregate, see no significant change according to ComScore. Additionally, Twitter users following sports on TV and Twitter show higher levels of engagement (+42%) and memorability (+52%) of Twitter ads in the timeline, compared to TV ads seen among people following the event only on TV. Because of these findings, the team knew Twitter would provide maximum impact.
At the same time, the Supreme Court rules that college athletes can receive compensation on traditional endorsements, personal appearances, and social media opportunities. So, rather than simply amplifying general content, Shell saw a perfect window of opportunity; compliment the ESPN partnership with this new market of brand ambassadors to first drive positive brand perception and ultimately higher registration results.
Because the more extensive ESPN Partnership also predominantly lived on Twitter, the team sought the expertise of the platform's live-in influencer agency, Arthouse. As well, a partnership with a leading sports sponsorship platform, OpenDores, made navigating and connecting with the college athletes to leverage the Name, Image & Likeness (NIL) deals quick and efficient given the changing legislative environment. Equally excited about this opportunity, Twitter notified Shell that they'd be the first advertisers to leverage college athletes as ambassadors on the platform.
Our college athletes educated our Road Warriors audience about the benefits of the Shell Fuel Rewards® program, creating vast retargeting pools that served engaged individuals' ads to register for the program.
The strategy proved successful; when comparing performance to the year prior, total registrations increased by over 500%. Within the social stratosphere, registrations increased by 780% annually. This proved that tapping into passion points and leveraging ambassadors who identify with the audience was a big win for Shell.
This year’s brand ambassadors, college athletes, outshined the competition. Specifically for Shell, Road Warriors who engaged with these influencers ultimately generated a 20% more efficient cost per Shell Fuel Rewards® registration, rather than directly receiving an ad from a Shell or ESPN handle. This proved to not only Shell, but Twitter advertisers, that college athlete influencers are a powerful tool to drive passion and loyalty.