A Paint Scheme for the Fans: Inside Nationwide’s Data-Driven Digital Contest (Case Study)October 26, 2017
Nationwide and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have had a strong relationship on and off the track. On top of trusting Nationwide with his car, house, and business—Earnhardt has insured his dog, Gus. Nationwide has also served as the majority primary sponsor for Earnhardt and the No. 88 Hendrick Chevrolet since September 2014.
Now, as Earnhardt is nearing the final races of his NASCAR career, the duo is paying homage to Junior Nation in creative ways. They recently teamed up to launch a special paint scheme contest—one that would not only excite Junior Nation but remind them once more how Nationwide is on their side.
Nationwide’s sports marketing agency, Wasserman, approached our team with a vision for a digital contest that could involve fans in choosing one of Earnhardt’s final paint schemes, and would simultaneously connect the right fans to Nationwide.
They also wanted the contest to be as much a tribute to Earnhardt as it was to his fans.
“Dale has such a passion for paint schemes,” added Lee Schwemmer, campaign lead and director of social media and insights at Wasserman. “We really wanted to tap into that affinity and have Junior Nation voice their opinions, too.”
We worked with Wasserman to develop a custom contest using Zoomph’s visual builder. It was important for us to create an easy-to-navigate site with clear calls-to-action, a simple voting process, and purposeful design.
We therefore harnessed a minimalist design that could keep the focus on voting. The final site, which was built using one of Zoomph’s mobile-responsive templates, lived as a standalone landing page. This made it possible to customize the navigation so that it omitted any unrelated links, and drove specific user actions. The site included a contest countdown to further inspire users to take immediate action.
The contest itself featured eight paint schemes—each of which was related to Nationwide and had been admired by fans and Earnhardt at past races. By selecting one of the eight schemes, fans could not only help determine which theme Earnhardt would run at Martinsville Speedway on October 29, but enter to win Earnhardt’s signed gloves from the race and a signed replica helmet.
To vote, visitors simply had to click ‘vote’ on the site. The site then returned a splash page (which included a customized form), allowing users to enter the contest without leaving the site. This form was crucial for Nationwide to be able to get in front of potential customers and to gauge a user’s purchase intent.
Nationwide used Zoomph to collect, organize, and analyze all submissions. Zoomph provided additional moderation capabilities and overview stats, including how many people talked about the contest on social media.
This helped to support a post-contest retargeting strategy in which Nationwide followed up with leads with personalized messages. By accessing our platform, Nationwide can now drill down into the demographics, interests, and other audience analytics informed by social media to optimize future campaigns and segmentation strategies.
Wasserman and Nationwide set an initial goal of 20,000 votes. The contest generated over 25,000 submissions in just three weeks.
“Overall, we achieved our goals, and then some,” said Schwemmer.
“We haven’t seen a big overlap in contests, which is great,” he added. “We’ve done a good job in being able to tap into new fans and new audiences.”
On social media, where Schwemmer’s team promoted the competition, the team earned around 2.2 million post impressions and 87,000 fan engagements across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The contest inspired other follow-up giveaways, alongside a chain of #Appreci88ion posts ramping up excitement for Martinsville.
Perhaps most importantly, the contest struck a chord with one of its greatest champions. Earnhardt expressed his delight over the winning paint scheme, a nod to the late Buddy Baker.
“It’s my all-time favorite paint scheme,” Earnhardt had said about the “Gray Ghost” paint scheme back in 2015. But due to a concussion, which kept him out of the final 12 races of the 2016 season, Earnhardt lost his opportunity to drive “Gray Ghost.”
When the contest results were announced, Earnhardt took to social media to share the news with his fans.
“Hey everybody, I got some news from Nationwide that the ‘Gray Ghost’ has won,” Earnhardt said in a Twitter video, “and I want to make sure that all the fans who voted know that I really appreciate it…Jeff got to drive it [in Darlington last year] and yes, I was a little envious…so this goes out to all the fans for voting and, you know, I have only you to thank.”
And the winner is….. pic.twitter.com/mkGon3D20p
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 28, 2017
Excitement is at an all-time high in the days leading up to Martinsville.
Schwemmer and his team are building up to a bittersweet finale to Earnhardt’s NASCAR career. Meanwhile, he takes some time to reflect on how our two teams have worked harmoniously together to launch special, memorable campaigns for Junior Nation.
“It’s really the above-and-beyond service that makes you guys separate yourself from everyone else,” Schwemmer said. “Zoomph always goes the extra mile for their clients.”