Inside the campaign that got 800,000 people to learn guitar in quarantine

When the pandemic hit, Fender offered people stuck at home a free three-month subscription to its digital platform for online music lessons.

Inside the campaign that got 800,000 people to learn guitar in quarantine

Campaign: Fender Play
Company: Fender
Agency partners: Praytell (U.S. PR) and Fever (U.K. PR)
Duration: March-June 

To engage people stuck at home — and bored — guitar manufacturer Fender held a giveaway, offering users three months of free access to its music learning app Fender Play. 

Strategy. In mid-March, COVID-19 shut down daily life across the U.S. To encourage people to stay home and social distance, Fender held a giveaway, offering 100,000 free three-month subscriptions to its music learning platform, Fender Play. 

“It was simply a goodwill gesture,” said Christina Stejskal, VP of global communications at Fender. “We were looking to provide some relief during lockdown...We are big believers that music has the power to connect us.” 

Tactics. The campaign’s launch was relatively quiet. “We wanted to be respectful and conscious of the way we were delivering this message,” Stejskal said. 

In early March, the company pitched media contacts with whom it had existing relationships. On March 20, the giveaway started. Within 48 hours, all 100,000 signups had been claimed. 

On March 26, Fender increased the giveaway to 500,000 free subscriptions. Outreach to the media continued. Although, by this point, much of the press coverage resulted from inbound inquiries from journalists interested in covering the story. Once again, demand outstripped supply, prompting the company to expand the number of free subscriptions to 1 million.

By the time the giveaway ended in mid-June, there had been more than 800,000 sign-ups. 

Results. The campaign generated more than 1,300 pieces of earned media coverage, including placements in Good Morning America, CNN, Vogue, Wired, People and GQ

Of the people who signed up for a free three-month subscription, 99% were new users. The campaign also helped close the gender gap on the platform. Before, 70% of users were male; after the giveaway, those figures were at 55% male and 45% female, respectively.

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