ROC Drives Engagement and Sales Through a Social-Only Launch

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The new audio technology company entered the market with a viral video starring soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

You only have one chance to make a first impression. And when it comes to introducing a new product or brand, marketers often pull out all the stops: TV, digital, email, the works. However, ROC LIVE LIFE LOUD (ROC) decided to take a different route when it made its debut last summer. The audio technology company relied solely on social to promote its brand launch — leveraging its video virality to drive brand awareness, retail interest, and sales.

Creating a (social) game plan

ROC is an audio technology company cofounded by three partners: social content company Shareability, creative design and marketing firm IncuBrand Studios, and professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. It's also manufactured and distributed by audio and video cable provider Monster.

When it came time to introduce the brand to the public, the company needed to create awareness and drive interest from retailers. ROC Cofounder Tim Staples, who is also the CEO and cofounder of the agency developing the launch campaign Shareability, wanted to do things a little differently: He planned to launch the brand completely through social media, without any traditional advertising.

“Pretty much across the board everyone hates advertising,” he says. “But this new generation [of millennials] is especially allergic to advertising and push messaging.”

Although ambitious, Staples knew it could be done by leveraging Ronaldo's social following. After all, at the time of this writing the Real Madrid and Portugal national team player had 40.9 million followers on Twitter, 51 million followers on Instagram, and nearly 110 million likes on Facebook.

To attract Ronaldo's fan base and appeal to millennials, ROC's team decided to produce a video showing a different side of Ronaldo. Instead of featuring him training for a match, marketers for the brand dressed Ronaldo in a disguise and had him do trick moves with a soccer ball and interact with people passing by in a busy plaza. As Staples puts it, “We took the biggest athlete in the world and we hid him in plain sight in one of the busiest plazas in Madrid.” The end of the video showed the crowd's reaction when Ronaldo revealed his true identity and included a call-to-action to eBay where viewers could view additional content and buy ROC's headphones.

Scoring a goal

Marketers for ROC uploaded the video on August 3, 2015 and promoted it through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The team targeted people by region on Facebook to appeal to Ronaldo's top market and translated the video into 23 languages to be distributed in 140 countries. The video was also shared with influencers and journalists.

Within 24 hours, the video accumulated 30 million views on Facebook, Staples says. It also garnered 70 million views across Facebook and YouTube by the end of the year.

“It was literally a sonic boom,” Staples says. “It was the biggest, most explosive thing [Shareability] had ever done.”

The video also achieved the initial goal of drawing interest from retailers. Staples had estimated that 500 retailers would sign on to sell ROC's products by the end of 2015; the brand is now rolling out to more than 3,000 retailers over the course of this year. And when it comes to sales, Staples characterizes the company as a “heavy eight-figure brand.”

Gearing up for next season

ROC has continued to grow its brand awareness by producing a series of Ronaldo videos — one that debuted in December in the form of a holiday greeting card to the athlete's fans and one that is scheduled for release this month.

Staples attributes the success of the video to ROC's focus on providing fans value first and sales second.

“Brands need to stop focusing on themselves and start focusing on their consumers and their audience,” he says. “Start with value, start with taking a step towards the audience instead of trying to sell the audience something. Spend the time and the energy, get the data on what your audience cares about and develop content [around] something they're actually passionate about. If you take that first step and if you give them that value, they'll pay it back tenfold over time.”

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