Case Study: Life360 & BMW Dominate SXSW
Campaign: Life360 and BMW Dominate SXSW with Free Rides and VC Access
Duration: Feb 10 – March 18th
Life360 is the leading location and communication app for families, with over 30 million families using the service. And while the company has enjoyed a strong media presence, they knew that SXSW 2014 would offer the ideal place to make a splash with several primary audiences: tech media, influencers, investors and potential users. Knowing they needed to elevate the brand at the show in an interesting way, they turned to Dotted Line Communications, a boutique PR firm known for high level media results and creative SXSW campaigns. Life360’s objectives were to garner buzz heading into the show, build deeper relationships with mainstream tech and business press (and of course encourage Life360 coverage tied to SX), stay on the radar of the VC community and well known influencers, and create a significant lift in positive brand awareness and social media impact among all these communities.
In order to create a robust presence at the festival, Life360 leveraged their relationship with BMW and forthcoming app integration into BMW’s soon to be released electric i3 cars. DLC and Life360 embarked on a campaign that leveraged the cars in a number of ways to ensure coverage leading into the show, as well as on the ground in Austin and in the weeks to follow: 1) as a concierge service to media and influencers who needed rides at the show, 2) as a way to get folks back and forth to the airport (alleviating a major pain point around SX) and 3) by giving the media access to the cars for ride-a-longs with Life360 co-founders, Chris Hulls and Alex Haro. In addition, in advance of the show, DLC created a separate campaign called Pitch a VC, offering start-ups access to well-known VCs and the chance to win a 15 minute ridealong to pitch their company in the back of an i3.
Prior to the festival, DLC reached out to tier one press and influencers including Robert Scoble, Jefferson Graham at USA Today, Guy Kawasaki, Dylan Tweney at VentureBeat, Lance Ulanoff at Mashable and more, inviting them to check out the Life360 integration in the BMW i3 while in Austin. As seasoned SX veterans, the PR team’s main priority was to do as much legwork as possible before ever landing in Austin. While there’s always an opportunity to engage with media on the ground, it was important to have meetings pre-scheduled in advance wherever possible in order to meet the goals of connecting with a specific list of influencers and media.
DLC began reaching out to media, influencers and VCs several weeks prior to SX. The first order of business was finalizing details for the Pitch A VC contest, which meant securing noteworthy VCs (like Dave McClure/500 StartUps, Christine Herron/Intel, Ethan Kurzweil/Bessemer Ventures, Ryan Swagar/Venture51 and more) to take part in the contest and offer their time to hear a pitch from a start-up. Once the VCs had agreed to take part, DLC created a social campaign that would garner attention and gain buzz from startups. Because the contest was specifically designed for Twitter, DLC created a call for submissions on the Life360 blog and gave Mashable the exclusive to ramp up interest. To enter, participants were asked to follow @Life360 on Twitter and then tweet @Life360 and @BMWiUSA with the hashtag #PitchaVC. In an effort to garner diverse entries, participants were encouraged to get creative with submissions: short videos, a link to their blog, a funny image – whatever medium allowed start-ups to tell their story in 140 characters or less.
With the contest under way, DLC turned attention to influencers like Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble and Peter Shankman, offering concierge service in the Life360 BMW at the show as a way to get to events, parties and panels. Much coordination was needed to lock down schedules and logistics but, thanks to Venture Further Events, rides went off without a hitch. In advance of the show, DLC also conducted outreach to a targeted list of mainstream press members like Jefferson Graham, USA Today; Lance Ulanoff, Mashable; Jason Sanchez, CNN; and Sarah McBride, Reuters; who were seen riding around Austin in the cars and videoing one-on-one interviews with Life360 founders. In addition, cars were driven around town to elevate brand awareness among all festival attendees, stopping to allow passers-by to take photos and ask questions about the integrated app functionality.
Initial success on social media was seen around the Pitch A VC contest, prior to Life360 arriving in Austin. The confluence of the Mashable exclusive and blog post calling for submissions propelled entries, resulting in roughly a third of the total social media audience of more than 5.5 million reached through the overall campaign. Contest engagement exceeded expectations, with well over 300 tweets on the contest and 75 final submissions, resulting in 15 winners chosen for rides with VCs at the show.
Media attention also drove great success with more than 156 million total impressions and coverage hitting nearly every outlet on the initial target list. Stories included:
- The Huffington Post – My List of Essential Apps for Attending SXSW
- Mashable – With BMW’s First Electric Car, No More ‘Text Me When You Get There’
- Huffington Post Live – Live from SXSW: Chris Hulls
- Reuters – Startups jostle for funding, attention at South by Southwest
- Wired Italy – SxSW: Life360 app, per tenere la famiglia unita e organizzata
- USA Today Videos – Talking Tech: Life360 in your car
- USA Today – Life360 is about connecting, not stalking, says founder
Due to extensive outreach prior to and at the show, 80% of our target influencers used social media platforms to positively speak out about the brand and the campaign, from Robert Scoble who took to his Facebook Page, to Peter Shankman, who tweeted his appreciation, “Huge shout out to @Life360 for their amazing app that gets me a car whenever I need it at this insane #SXSW. THANK YOU!”
Exceeding client goals at an increasingly noisy conference was a big win, achieved through weeks of careful creative strategy, partnership building and prep work prior to the event. For Life360, dominating SXSW with the help of BMW was a challenge met with overwhelming success.