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How Leo Burnett Helped Esurance Meet Its Super Bowl Goals

The agency’s director of sweepstakes, games and contests, Amanda McKinney, discusses the unique giveaway

As fans are becoming more and more engaged with the Super Bowl (and other mega events) across multiple screens, and specifically tune in to social media, Esurance wanted to reach them in these places.

Esurance uses technology to do things more efficiently and save money, and they pass those savings on to their customers. What bigger, better stage to share their savings than the Super Bowl?

This year’s Esurance “Pass It On” sweepstakes provided ample opportunity to engage with customers throughout the entire game, while also spreading awareness of the Esurance brand and products.

How did Leo Burnett help Esurance meet its goals on Super Bowl Sunday? Here, Amanda McKinney, VP, director of sweepstakes, games and contests, explains the unique giveaway opportunity, the strategy behind sweepstakes, and how she personally helps those lucky few winners.

Describe your role at the agency.
I am the resident expert on games of chance and high-risk promotion—from strategy, through execution and all the way through handling the winner—for Leo Burnett, Arc, Lapiz and even some of the Publicis agencies globally. However, when people ask me what I do, I just say that I give things away and do my best to make creative dreams come true.

What sweepstakes campaign did Leo have in the Super Bowl this year? What made it unique?
For this year’s big game, we worked with Esurance to build an exciting program that leveraged Twitter to pass on more than $1 million in prize money. Fans could simply retweet any of the #EsuranceSweepstakes tweets or use the hashtag #EsuranceSweepstakes for a chance to win.

What made it unique was threefold:

  1. Driving consumers to engage on a second screen during the Super Bowl with an incentive – the chance to win part of the over $1 million prize pool in real time. Meaning, 16 people could be $50,000 richer before the end of the night just for passing on tweets from Esurance.

  2. Because the retweet was the means of entering, the entries themselves became a means of spreading the word about Esurance’s brand attributes so people learn more about them. Why pay for 1 million social impressions when you can instead give $1 million away and let the entrants’ tweets be those impressions?

  3. Real-time rewarding. This had never been done before! We contacted winners in less than an hour of their retweet to process their unofficial winner notification, verify if they are eligible to win and then processed all the necessary paperwork to award them their prizes—in most cases before the end of the game. This process typically takes days and weeks, however, we looked at it and said it did not have to, so we found ways to be more efficient, work with our partners quicker, and pass along the winnings at lightning speed to real people. What we found while we evaluated the process was that nobody had gone this far before. Other sweepstakes had notified people they were winners, but had not actually awarded prizes within the hour, or even the day. Two years ago we delivered $1.5 million in cash to someone’s doorstep in three days so that was our goal to beat and we did it.

Esurance has activated a sweepstakes campaign around the Super Bowl before. Why does this campaign tactic work so well for the Esurance brand, and brands in general?
As for why sweepstakes work so well, sweepstakes are simple, straightforward and efficient—and they’re one of the fastest ways to impact dynamic business change for brands. Additionally, sweepstakes work well on social platforms like Twitter due to their ease of use and ability to empirically capture all eligible entries.

What considerations need to be made before a brand pursues a sweepstakes activation?
Same as with any promotion: What are the goals you’re looking to achieve? How fast must those goals be met to impact your overall business? And do you have the ability to support this promotion with appropriate media? Even the best promotion with the strongest call to action and the most amazing life-changing prizes can fail if nobody knows about it. Last, but not least, do you have at least 10 days before it must be in-market? Sometimes even the best promotion can’t come to life because there is not enough daylight to get it done—timing restrictions around the legalities of these activations need to be considered.

How much work goes into bringing a sweepstakes campaign to life?
As much as giving birth to a child but in way less time! It can start with a fun idea but if you don’t really think about it, it could last you a lifetime of legal woes. This being said, it can also give you a lifetime of joy because you have actually changed someone’s life with the most amazing and wonderful prize.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to planning games of chance or high-risk promotions?
The biggest challenge is getting everyone to calm down and realize it is not that hard and not that scary. This being said, the biggest risks yield the biggest reward, so it’s tough to calm down while still pushing the envelope. Esurance did not have to go to a real person’s house with a pallet of real money (Yes! That was real money we flew in a jet across the country to award live on “Jimmy Kimmel”), but they wanted to. Similarly, this year, Leo Burnett and Esurance did not have to deliver money in real-time during the game to consumers, but we wanted to. It’s part of the surprise and delight of my job. We wanted for someone to go home from their Super Bowl party saying, “OMG! I really do not have to go to work tomorrow, I just won $50K and can tell my boss that I quit my job and….” Well, you know the rest.

Describe the best practices of sweepstakes planning and execution.
Keep it simple, be honest and be real. Do not overpromise and always keep in mind this may be scary for your clients because with any chance, there is risk. Most importantly, never forget that even with the smallest prize, you have an opportunity to change the way a person thinks about your brand.

After it’s all said and done, someone has to win! How do you ensure a positive brand experience for winners?
I treat them as if they were my mom — what would my mom think, feel and need if she just won $50,000 or $250,000 or even $1 million? Well, she would need to breathe first, she would need a real person to help her through this new change and she would need someone in this moment of massive emotional overload to ensure she had the best experience. From taxes and social media to real media and “OMG! Can I quit my job?” and “YIKES!” handling and really caring for winners is the best part of doing sweepstakes, games and contests around the world and the best part of my job — and I would not change it a bit, well except to maybe do it more often for more people.