The Apartment That Pinterest Built: CB2 Redesigns Social Engagement
In May, 873 Broadway in New York City became the epicenter of a truly innovative social media campaign from home decor chain CB2, as an empty apartment was furnished from start to finish in five days, with designers transforming the blank canvases of five separate rooms into livable spaces – all based on the preferences of Pinterest users. So how did this campaign work, exactly? CB2 selected five popular designers, stylists and lifestyle bloggers, each of whom was assigned to one of the rooms. Each of these five pinned many potential pieces for their rooms, and the items that received the most likes from other Pinterest users ultimately found a place in the room’s final layout – resulting in a decorating style CB2 calls “modern together.” As if this concept wasn’t intriguing enough, CB2 added another element of engagement by posting cameras and video crews in the apartment, documenting the events as they unfolded in real-time so that users could watch the rooms take shape around their selections via time-lapse photos. The Apt CB2 campaign was CB2's first venture into big brand advertising, and they entered the arena with a vengeance. By leveraging their own fan base combined with the followings of five popular designers, they created a powerful foundation of motivated participants, whose efforts and engagement in the campaign were rewarded through a unique real-time connection between the online world and the real world. The campaign is, in fact, a veritable showcase of savvy modern marketing strategies, and it offers some great takeaways for other brands looking to follow suit. Let’s examine the anatomy of the Apt CB2 campaign and uncover the secrets to its success:
Customer driven decision-making
In the era when traditional advertising reigned supreme, push marketing was the norm. But in today’s marketplace, word-of-mouth recommendations, reviews and in-store interactions now carry far more weight with consumers. As a result, contemporary marketing gives greater focus to the "pull." CB2 showed a masterful grasp of pull marketing in the Apt CB2 promotion, which gave users a vehicle by which they could make choices and have their voices heard in a way that was both tangible and immediate.
The ability for brands to interact directly with their customers is one of the hallmarks of the digital marketing era. And according to research presented at SXSW 2012, when that interaction occurs in real time, brand marketing gets a huge boost. So what kind of boost are we talking about here? The research noted a whole laundry list of benefits, including:
- More positive perceptions of brands
- Greater willingness to try a new product
- Greater willingness to recommend a product to friends and family
- Better performance of related marketing campaigns
The social celebrity factor
CB2 didn’t rely solely on the appeal of real-time interaction alone to drive the success of its campaign. After all, if a pouf lands in the living room of an apartment and nobody is watching, did it really land there at all? That’s why they cleverly added prominent design celebrities to the mix, guaranteeing that they’d get an immediate fusion of new eyes and new fingers eager to click their favorite selections. Just how much interest can a celebrity add to a marketing campaign? A lot, actually. Each of the five designers selected for the Apt CB2 campaign came to the promotion with a sizable fan base. Let’s take a look at the numbers based on their Pinterest following alone:
Of course, not all of their followers would participate in Apt CB2, but even a small percentage of numbers like these is nothing to sneeze at.
There's a contest, too
This super-sized promotion isn't done yet, though. For those Pinterest fans who weren’t moved by the menu of celebrities or the fascination of real-time "vote and view" apartment decorating, Apt CB2 offered yet another draw – the chance to win a room furnished by CB2 valued at $5,000.
News coverage and PR
Needless to say, Apt CB2 has garnered a lot of interest in the news media. And that interest is accompanied by some extremely high-quality free publicity. We at Fame Foundry aren’t the only ones who’ve taken notice of this innovative campaign. News about Apt CB2 was picked up almost immediately by major outlets including Fast Company, the New York Times and International Business Times as well as a raft of lifestyle and home decor websites and blogs. CB2 has also supplemented their free exposure by placing paid advertising on relevant websites, notably Apartment Therapy.
The real genius of the campaign, however, is the synergy that it creates between all of these different features. The whole, in this case, really is much greater than the sum of its parts. Without question, social media is a valuable way for brands to reach their intended audience, providing great opportunities for brand building, messaging and conversation marketing. Even the best luxury brands know the power of social media. Take, for example, the innovative ways in which Burberry has incorporated social media into their marketing efforts. And while the Apt CB2 campaign is a bit reminiscent of Burberry's best efforts, it takes social integration several steps further. The result is a brilliant combination of social media, marketing strategy, public relations and targeted advertising – all rolled up into one highly engaging package.