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THE SCOUT

Bing at Sundance: Using Social Media to Meet Customers' Needs

Bing partnered with Spin to host a variety of live-entertainment acts at the Bing Bar, including Drake, Jason Mraz, and Fitz and the Tantrums.

Photo: Charles Peterson

Microsoft’s search engine brought its “Bing Is for Doing” slogan to life at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Bing created a multilevel social media campaign that offered guests access to exclusive concerts, restaurant reservations, merchandise, and concierge services. The premise was simple: Give festival attendees what they want and need, and in return, they’ll share their affinity for your brand on social networks.

“We had done some social stuff last year at Sundance, but not nearly to the scope and scale of this year,” said Bing social media manager Dustin Sedgwick. “We wanted to be positive and fun, to surprise and delight, and to help people to get things done at Sundance.”

The company received more than 55,000 views of its Facebook stream, and nearly 55 million Twitter impressions during its five-day presence. Of all the social media buzz about brands at the festival, Bing owned 56 percent of the mentions.

The effort had two components: providing special treatment and insider access for some of the 50,000 attendees at Sundance, and sharing the festival with the company’s fans on Facebook.

To manage the on-site activities, the company created the “Bing Brigade,” a sort of social media concierge service. The team of 14 people monitored and responded to questions about the festival posted on Twitter, handed out Bing swag to people waiting in lines (the company distributed more than 4,500 items, including sweatshirts and mittens), and even charged attendees’ phones using special backpacks.

Sedgwick said the most popular giveaway was access to the invitation-only Bing Bar, in the former Claim Jumper Hotel, which offered cozy lounge areas, interviews with filmmakers, and concerts from such artists as Jason Mraz, Cobra Starship, and Drake. “People would tweet, ‘It would be my dream come true to go to the Bing Bar to see Drake,’ and for a number of people we reached out and said, ‘Here is your dream come true,’” Sedgwick said. The company also created a Bing-Sundance 2012 group on GroupMe (a group-texting service also owned by Microsoft) and encouraged attendees to use it to coordinate their activities with friends. Sedgwick said hundreds of groups were created, and they rewarded the most active ones with access to the Bing Bar.

The Bing Brigade also monitored tweets inquiring about restaurants. “We had booked reservations at the hottest restaurants ahead of time,” Sedgwick said. “So if people tweeted about trying to get a reservation with the hashtag #teambing, we would randomly pick some to give a reservation and a $100 gift card. We wanted to show that Bing helps you get things done while you are at Sundance.”

For another activation, Bing hired Sincerely, the maker of Postagram, to provide a team of 10 photographers to snap photos of festival-goers. About a week after the festival, those people received their photos in the mail in the form of a Postagram postcard printed with Bing’s logo. “We wanted that extra touchpoint a week later, another iteration of our name out there to hopefully get people to try the product, and have a more positive connotation around it,” Sedgwick said.

Bing also used social media to connect with movie buffs and music fans worldwide. “There are tons of people who are not able to get to Park City, so we thought about how we could help people experience a taste of [Sundance] while at home,” Sedgwick said. The solution was live-streaming performances and speakers at Bing Bar to the brand’s Facebook page, giving people incentive to “like” the page in order to have access to the stream.

One bit of fallout from Bing’s efforts at Sundance: In March the company fired two marketing executives, Eric Hadley and Sean Carver, for violating company policies in part related to purchases for the Bing Bar.


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