Deluxe uses TV series starring its comms head to engage small towns

The show, which centers on a $500,000 revitalization for one small town and its businesses, allowed people across the country to nominate their town to be featured.

Amanda Brinkman and Robert Herjavec
Amanda Brinkman and Robert Herjavec

Company: Deluxe Corporation
Campaign: Second Season Activation for Small Business Revolution – Main Street
Agency mix: Fast Horse, Flow Nonfiction, Haworth Marketing + Media
Duration: September 2016 to February 2017

Century-old check printing brand Deluxe has its own TV show, Small Business Revolution - Main Street, which it is using to position itself as a small business marketing powerhouse.

In September 2016, Deluxe debuted the first season of the show, which centers on a $500,000 revitalization for one small town and its businesses, on SmallBusinessRevolution.org and Hulu. At the same time, the brand decided to open nominations and create a campaign which would drive fan engagement leading up to the announcement of the season two finalist town.

The latest campaign saw nearly 14,000 nominations for towns spanning all 50 states and nearly 1 million votes cast by fans during the finalist round.

Strategy
Deluxe, alongside its marketing AOR Fast Horse, began planning for the campaign leading up to production of the show's second season in mid-2016.

"Our biggest goal for this campaign is to raise awareness for Deluxe and raise the perception that Deluxe can help small businesses with their marketing," explained Deluxe's chief brand and communications officer, Amanda Brinkman.

The show features Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec starring alongside Brinkman. The brand looked to use Herjavec to bring added attention to press events and announcements about the campaign as it progressed towards the selection of a finalist town.

The campaign team wanted to select eight towns for finalist consideration, and also tour each of the towns to meet and engage with small businesses. Deluxe hired Flow Nonfiction to assist with video production throughout the journey.

"For the first season, we didn't announce that we were coming to finalist towns and this year we wanted to do that differently," said Brinkman. "We wanted to use the platform to get the public involved that much earlier."

The campaign team looked to leverage branded social channels in order to get fans motivated to nominate small towns across the country, as well as build excitement for major finalist announcements.

Tactics
In the fall of 2016, coinciding with the release of the show's first season, Brinkman and Herjavec held a media event in New York City asking for nominations for season two. This event earned interviews with top-tier national media such as The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Inc, and Entrepreneur magazine.

By November 2016, the campaign team had selected eight featured towns from more than 14,000 submissions. On December 3, Brinkman, a campaign team from Deluxe, and a production crew set out on a tour to engage with small business owners in each of the towns selected. The towns included: Kingsburg, California; Woodland Park, Colorado; Georgetown, South Carolina; Red Wing, Minnesota; Marietta, Ohio; Frostburg, Maryland; Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania; and North Adams, Massachusetts.

The brand asked fans on social to use a hashtag to represent passion for each town and help build momentum for the Deluxe team's visit. For instance, those in favor of Marietta, Ohio used the hashtag #MyMarrieta. Facebook Live was also used to capture video content and other sharable content was posted on social channels for each town featured on the tour.

"We also did a lot about educating social channels about the rankings and where the towns were at," added Brinkman.

Following the tour, a team from Deluxe landed in New York City for a media event to promote five "short-list" towns and ask the public to vote for the winner on SmallBusinessRevolution.org. Brinkman and Herjavec hosted a Facebook Live stream of the event which racked up more than 260,000 views. The team also pitched the announcement to national business and consumer publications, small business blogs, and other targeted media.

On February 22, the campaign team launched a video on its Facebook page announcing the finalist town featured in season two of the show. In each of the five towns, people held viewing parties to watch the video. In Bristol Borough, the town selected as the finalist, the video was made to go black for a few seconds, before Brinkman walked out in front of the crowd to a roaring applause.

Results
More than 14,000 fans cast nominations for towns across all 50 states to become the next town featured on season two of Small Business Revolution - Main Street. During the one-week finalist voting period, nearly 1 million people cast votes to decide the finalist town.

Campaign efforts generated 585 news stories in outlets including: The New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Fox Business, Forbes, and many local publications. The series made Inc. magazine’s list of top TV shows for entrepreneurs, alongside HBO’s Silicon Valley and Billions.

The series website, SmallBusinessRevolution.org, received more than 4.2 million visits during February 2017.

Celebrities such as James Taylor, the band Wilco, and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), caught wind of the campaign and promoted it on social channels in an effort to rally votes for their home states.

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