Cannes Lions

The Pixel 3 Unboxing Event

ESSENCE , New york / GOOGLE / 2019

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Awareness of Google’s Pixel smartphone and its features have grown steadily since Google released the first Pixel in 2016. But with the launch of the third iteration of the Pixel on the horizon, the phone remained a challenger brand in a hardware landscape largely dominated by Apple and Samsung.

As Pixel entered into its third year, an opportunity existed to break from the pack and demonstrate how radically helpful a phone can be when it’s made by Google. But with half the budget of previous years, we had to think differently about cutting through the clutter and ensuring our budget was spent efficiently. Our challenge was to drive awareness, desire and purchase consideration of Google’s new Pixel 3 by differentiating it from other premium smartphones on the market during the year’s most competitive retail season.


Growth is stagnating in the US smartphone category. The excitement that once surrounded the breakthrough potential of new devices has been replaced with complacency and debate over the incremental improvement of device features.

Every year, the smartphone market booms during the Christmas sales season. As a result, our market analysis revealed the extent to which most manufacturers are massively overinvested in Q4 with a mobile or carrier ad hitting audiences in every second ad break. So while they focused on outpunching each other in a spending war, we focused on a way to outsmart the competition instead.

We saw an opportunity in the cultural phenomenon of “Unboxing” videos. “Unboxing” has evolved into its own genre of online content, with over 13M “Unboxing” queries every year on YouTube. This was our chance to reach customers in an unexpected way.


Our target audience consisted of what we called “Bosses in the Making.” These are the change-makers shaping culture and industries, leading movements, breaking down barriers, and humbly pushing society forward. Heavy social media users, and influenced by their peers, they seek inspiration from everything around them and see opportunity everywhere.

This audience finds traditional Unboxing formats to be too long and too technical. So we reimagined what an Unboxing video could be and created an Unboxing event worthy of Pixel 3's radically helpful features.

We tapped a mix of 5 different celebrities and YouTube Creators to put their spin on the traditional Unboxing video. Each video would highlight the different Pixel features they used most in everyday life, giving our talent the opportunity to create unboxing experiences as unique as the creators themselves. Our Unboxing would culminate in a supercut on the YouTube masthead coinciding with Pixel 3 launch day.


We released a new video each day leading up to the on-sale date to build desire and excitement for the Pixel 3, and unleashed a high-reach, high-frequency YouTube takeover consisting of in-stream and bumper ads on TrueView and Google Preferred. Each day of the takeover, we swapped in a new version of the five videos, making the series totally unmissable without resulting in ad fatigue.

On release day, we took over YouTube and expanded our targeting to the masses using the YouTube Masthead & Roadblocks to showcase a supercut of the best Unboxing reactions and feature demos.

To amplify our cultural impact, we tapped GIPHY to create a series of GIFs from each unboxing video. The Unboxing GIFs aligned with launch cadence of the video content, taking over the Top Trending slot across and GIPHY Mobile Apps (including iPhone), with a 100% share of voice during the on-sale date.


Our Pixel 3 Unboxing Week program reached 64 million people, or 1 in 5 people in the US, and 1 in 3 US Millennials. Overall, it generated 34.3 million cumulative views on YouTube. 59 million people saw the YouTube masthead element alone. We received 300 million GIPHY views and 4.8 million clicks directing to the Google Store or the video watch page (CTR 1.11%).

Our campaign resulted in significant lift results across key brand metrics and CPLU (cost per lifted user) results above YouTube’s benchmarks: up to 8.8% absolute lift in awareness, up to 6.8% absolute lift in consideration, and $6 CPLU, beating TrueView benchmarks by 20%.

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