Cannes Lions

PayItForwardLIVE

R/GA, New York / VERIZON / 2020

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Case Film
Case Film

Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Background

In March 2020, COVID-19 brought America to a stand-still. Everyone was sheltering at home, and millions of small businesses across the country were closed—with no sense of when or even if they’d ever open again. As the company that builds the networks that move the country forward, Verizon wanted to deliver on its brand mission to support small businesses and re-create the sense of community we all lost when we were forced indoors. As it happens, concerts, sports and most live events were canceled, leaving artists and athletes stuck at home as well. Verizon saw an opportunity for an ongoing program that could do good in multiple ways: by connecting the biggest names in sports and entertainment to the audiences they were missing (who were missing them too), for the purpose of connecting small businesses to the revenue and customers they had lost.

Idea

In the US, small businesses are a part of every community and the loss of them would be financially and emotionally devastating. But rather than just rally the locals for help, we went with the biggest “locals” out there, enlisting the help of superstars like Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews, Billie Eilish and Chance the Rapper... to perform via livestream from the intimacy of their own homes. The 8-week program, called Pay It Forward LIVE, extended beyond music, for even broader appeal, with gaming livestreams from the likes of pro gamers, athletes and film celebrities. Our talent came with a list of local businesses they wanted to highlight during their livestream, encouraging fans to tweet support for their favorite small businesses (which were highlighted live during each concert) and buy gift cards, helping build awareness and donations on behalf of these small businesses.

Strategy

With the cancelation of concerts, festivals and live events, along with small businesses being forced to close with no end in sight, Verizon wanted to restore the sense of community and socialization we had all lost, by uniting isolated musicians and entertainers with their fans in order to make a big impact for the droves of small businesses affected by the pandemic. Safety was a top priority though, so a big benefit concert was out of the question. Instead, our strategy focused on creating an unprecedented, intimate concert experience while still adhering to COVID guidelines. Through the use of Verizon properties, social media streaming services, online payment platforms and a whole lot of video calls, we connected some of the world’s biggest artists, right from the intimacy of their own homes, with a massive audience equipped to raise as much money and support as possible for small businesses.

Execution

Despite the production challenges of building a completely-live and socially-distanced entertainment series, our first concert went live just a week after lockdown and 48 hours after briefing. Twitter was the first and fastest social channel we could air on, leveraging their Event Page features and native hashtag habits to encourage more engagement, awareness and viewership. Our first livestream concert with Dave Matthews had the highest positive sentiment in Twitter’s history. By the end, we were broadcasting livestreams on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, Yahoo, and TV via Verizon Fios. Giving viewers innovative ways to donate directly to small businesses with integrated payment partners like Square, Venmo, and PayPal, a USA Today feature that let them tip, pay, or buy digital gift cards for small businesses in their zip code — they could even tweet their favorite local business with the hashtag #PayItForwardLIVE to raise even more donations.

Outcome

While we had high hopes for the success of Pay It Forward LIVE, we were blown away by the end results. After the 8-week series we saw:

87M+ LIVESTREAM VIEWS

122K+ #PAYITFORWARDLIVE CONVERSATIONS

1.3M VISITS TO OUR ACCOMPANYING WEBSITE

131K+ GRANTS APPLIED FOR BY SMALL BUSINESSES

$7.5 MILLION IN TOTAL DONATIONS TO SMALL BUSINESSES

98% POSITIVE OR NEUTRAL SENTIMENT FOR CAMPAIGN, INCLUDING 100% POSITIVE SENTIMENT FOR KICK-OFF SHOW, A TWITTER LIVESTREAM RECORD

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