Did Chevy’s Cryptic Emoji Press Release Captivate Audiences?

On June 22 of last month, Chevrolet published a press release seemingly meant to announce the unveiling of the new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. However, the release didn’t succeed in announcing much—it was written entirely in emojis.
It’s likely you’ve heard about the campaign or seen many of the amusing responses to Chevy’s challenge to decode the message before the release of the decryption at 2 p.m the following day.

When asked about the decision, Chevy indicated that they wanted to “have fun and be irreverent” with their audience.
So did it work? Did Chevy’s confusing emoji release draw the response they intended it to, and how did this relate to brand conversation overall? And, more importantly, what can we learn about the interests of those engaging with the campaign?
General Reception
Using Crimson’s ForSight platform, we tracked the use of #ChevyGoesEmoji across twitter to measure public engagement with the campaign. The campaign produced a total of 18,132 posts to date with a potential 100 million impressions made. Neutral sharing accounted for the largest portion of conversation at 71%, with positive engagement at 27%, and negative coming in at 2%. While conversation was not overwhelming negative, it is productive to take a deeper dive and understand what people were actually saying.
What Were People Saying
Rather than tweets regarding the press release and calls to decode the message (2% of conversation in the initial week), most conversation surrounded Chevrolet’s Emoji Academy ads and the celebrities they featured: Norm McDonald, Ashley Benson Zendaya Coleman, and Jamie Chung.
chevy-emoji-topics-and-wavesSome of the top retweets respectively were of those posts made by the celebrities discussing the ads—more than 4,860 retweets cumulatively.  

Despite engagement and even excitement around the campaign as a whole, we might say that the press release itself was dwarfed by Chevy’s other efforts.
What Can We Learn About Users?
To better understand this trend, we took a look at the demographics of twitter users engaging with the emoji campaign. Of the 18,119 posts:

  • 44% came from those 35 and older
  • 15% were from users 18-34
  • And users 17 and under accounted for 40%

While these results show a substantial engagement with a younger target audience, how many users under 17 can drive, or better yet, purchase a vehicle?
Understanding Target Audience through Affinities
Using Crimson Hexagon’s Affinities tool, we took a deeper look at users common interests to see why they may have been attracted to this campaign.
We found that in comparison to the general twitter user, users engaging with #ChevyGoesEmoji were 55 times more interested in celebrities, 28 times more interested in Ravenswood (a spinoff of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars), and 24 times more interested in Lucy Hale (star on Pretty Little Liars). Additionally, users interested in Lucy Hale also share a common interest in the teen choice awards.
Crucially, users were also 1/11 as interested in colleges and universities and 1/5 as interested in news and media than the general twitter user. And they were only 5 times as interested in communications, 4 times as interested in sales, 3 times as interested in advertising.
These results illustrate that Chevy’s celebrity marketing efforts, through the Emoji Academy ads, were very successful—users engaged having very strong affinity for topics relevant to these ads. However, the results also suggest that in translating their emoji strategy to the standard genre of the press release, Chevy slightly missed the mark: those users engaged had less affinity for topics relevant to public relations such as sales, advertising, and communications.

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