Cannes Lions

#TunnelNotTonnel

VAYNERMEDIA, New York / AB INBEV / 2019

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Overview

Background

The Holland Tunnel is one of New York City’s most important roadways. With over 14 million drivers annually, this 8,000 foot tunnel helps connect the Big Apple to the rest of the world. In December 2018, New York City unveiled their annual holiday decorations over the tunnel’s sign and boy were they ugly. Instead of putting a tree over the “A” in “Holland”, they put it over the “N” in “Tunnel”, and hung a circular wreath over the “U” rather than the “O” in Holland. New Yorkers were not happy. One man even started a petition to fix the decorations immediately. So our primary objective was just that: help our neighboring commuters get updated holiday decorations that weren’t an eyesore.

Idea

Our idea was to show the city how ridiculous their decorations looked by making the ones on our own brewery look just as bad. So Budweiser changed the holiday decorations above our brewery to match the Holland Tunnel eyesore, placing wreaths nonsensically over our huge neon sign. We tweeted a picture saying that we would only fix them once the city followed suit. Our target audience was the New York City media and the millions of residents who take the tunnel to work each day. The hashtags we used in our tweet (#TunnelNotTonnel and #MoveThatTree) became the unofficial hashtags our audience used in the movement to fix the decorations. We extended our campaign by calling on other brands in the neighborhood to stand with us in support, including Wyndham Hotels, Burlington, Unilever, Bed Bath & Beyond, Johnson & Johnson.

Strategy

We don’t have to tell you how crowded Twitter is with people complaining about things. But when we saw this story we knew we had an opportunity to bring people together in a fun way to fight for something we could all agree on. Our strategy was to support the New York commuters who wanted something more beautiful for their city. We knew if we did something for a local audience as powerful as New Yorkers that the story would spread nationally. By starting the conversation we weren’t just showing people that we stood with them in their fight, we were also teaching them that we had a brewery right down the road. Since our goal was to drive earned media and become a part of the news, Twitter was the ideal platform for distribution. That’s where the spark of the conversation began and where it continued to gain momentum.

Execution

Budweiser’s initial Tweet went out an hour after we discovered the story. There was no paid spend behind the execution, so this story truly pitched itself and all of our coverage was organic. Our PR execution was the continue to conversation and get as many people to stand with us as possible. The conversation continued for six days until December 18th, when the city announced it would finally fix the decorations. Before Budweiser joined the conversation, there were only 115 mentions of the story. Once our tweet launched, the conversation took off and over 6,000 mentions followed. Celebrities, like actor George Takei, and major brands, like Walmart, jumped in to support the cause on Twitter. The story even made its way into late night talk show monologues. Budweiser helped this story get the coverage it deserved, generating a social movement that helped to ultimately cause a change.

Outcome

Budweiser’s single Tweet garnered 92MM+ PR impressions, 17MM+ social impressions and over 20k engagements. Before Budweiser jumped in, the story only generated 115 mentions. After Budweiser, the conversation increased by 5000% to over 6,000 mentions. Although our main goal was standing with the people of New York, the coverage also spread awareness of the nearby Budweiser brewery. In one of the most competitive and crowded craft beer markets, we helped our consumers understand that our beer is made fresh and made right down the road. Budweiser’s efforts helped get the attention of The NY/NJ Port Authority, the organization that manages the tunnel. The Port Authority set up a public poll that resulted in 21,000 votes and an outcome that made everyone’s holidays a bit brighter. Six days after the first Tweet, the city officially agreed to #MoveThatTree.

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