The world of men’s grooming is increasingly competitive and fast-moving, just like football. In early 2022, Gillette’s design and innovation hub, GilletteLabs, launched its newest innovation, GilletteLabs with Exfoliating Bar razor. The challenge? With a brand as endemic to the bathroom counter as Gillette, consumers didn’t yet know what their sub brand GilletteLabs was all about. Our job, do more than build awareness, we wanted to make a definitive statement: GilletteLabs ups the grooming game. What better way to distinguish this than through Gillette’s most notable asset, an NFL stadium, during the league’s most watched weekly game, ESPN’s Monday Night Football. So, that became the tease we seeded throughout the sports world; Gillette Stadium was getting a name change to GilletteLabs Stadium. The part about a permanent stadium rename? Well, we made that up. And we didn’t correct em.
The world of sports provides an ideal platform for the Gillette demographic, especially football. Since 2009 the brand has enjoyed their partnership with the NFL. This, of course, includes the naming rights to the celebrated New England Patriots football stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium. A Boston staple, since 2002, predating their league-wide partnership. In addition to traditional activation, over the years, Gillette’s sports partnerships have spanned across media with iconic commercials and athlete endorsements. But these sports assets often remain in silos, used for individual activations and exposure. We realized that by utilizing the partnerships and optimizing the assets Gillette already owned, PR could maximize awareness in a singular cost-effective event. And there it was on the calendar: a midseason NFL game between the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on the premiere national sports broadcast, ESPN’s Monday Night Football. It was the perfect place to stage a complete takeover – and to catch NFL fans by surprise. What better way to distinguish GilletteLabs than to give it its own NFL stadium?
PR collaborated with The Famous Group (TFG) to tell the story of partnership and innovation. A mixed reality experience gave the National TV audience a chance to see the upcoming renovations to Gillette Stadium, triggering a larger-than-life GilletteLabs Exfoliating Bar razor to assemble itself on-field. Everything was bathed in green — the distinctive GilletteLabs brand color –—as mixed reality signage (plus some real-life in-stadium signage) gave the place its (temporary) new name: GilletteLabs Stadium. The broadcast timing was equally innovative, taking place live over a prime :45 MNF commercial slot, leading into ESPN’s game coverage, with commentary from announcer Joe Buck as the final seal of authenticity.
The team pitched media prior to the game, offering executive interviews for preview stories to go live morning of activation and engaged media attending the game with product and information within the press box. PR collaborated with Kraft Sports + Entertainment Group to tease the activation across Patriots & Gillette Stadium social platforms/channels, in addition to the Gillette(Labs). In addition, Gillette Stadium switched their account name & profile picture on Twitter to GilletteLabs Stadium in support of the rebrand. Post-game, PR conducted mass outreach to additional sports, tech, local and trade media outlets following the activation.
NFL fans watched the rest of the game, taking to social media to ask each other, “How many people just googled GilletteLabs?.” Yielding 2x increase in search 3-5 minutes following activation (when compared to broadcast and cable primetime).
The large contingency of football press believed it, too, with 57 game day coverage tweets mentioning GilletteLabs Stadium.
The campaign received 304M+ total impressions. 105.5M+ earned media impressions and 74 earned media placements came from outlets including AdAge, USA Today, Sports Video Group, Sports Business Media and more.188M+ total social media impressions across channels including Tweets from Mark J. Burns, AdAge, USA Today Sports, Front Office Sports, Computer Arts and more.
All these results laddered back to the original goal of building awareness. There was an 8pt increase in GilletteLabs aided awareness since September with system razor users.
By being strategic in our messaging and outreach approach, it allowed the creative to speak for itself and gave way for fans to draw their own conclusions (aka thinking Gillette was renaming the stadium to GilletteLabs Stadium). This strategy and execution resulted in a 2x increase in search 3-5 minutes following activation (when compared to broadcast and cable primetime). It was the first of its kind for an NFL Broadcast and gave audiences a glimpse of real and in-progress renovations to Gillette Stadium. Using real CAD drawings procured from the project architects, TFG was able to use mixed reality to model the finished renovations, including the largest outdoor stadium high-definition video board in the country, and the first time a retail product came to life.