Campaign: Die Hard Is Back
Company: Advance Auto Parts
Agency partners: FleishmanHillard (PR), The Marketing Arm (ad agency), 360i (creative)
Duration: October 2020
Die Hard returned in 2020 in the form of a two-minute Advance Auto Parts spot featuring Bruce Willis as Detective John McClane. In the ad, McClane encounters everything from a dead car battery to old foes such as Theo and his crew.
The goal was to emphasize the connection between Die Hard the movie franchise and the DieHard battery brand, which both have “three notable qualities: reliability, durability and power,” said Advance Auto Parts EVP and CMO Jason McDonell.
The company wanted to make a splash by bringing back Detective McClane, but it also felt these similarities lent themselves to compelling storytelling.
“It became something we knew was going to be a passion point for our customers and our motorists,” McDonell said.
The first order of business was reaching out to Willis and making sure he was onboard. After seeing the script, he agreed.
Filming took place in August, in Simi Valley, California. Safety measures included social distancing, testing and mask protocols.
“A significant challenge was making sure we applied the same high level of protocols for our employees in and at our store to the production,” McDonell said.
To announce the campaign, the team tapped Willis’ kids, who posted an unbranded 15-second teaser on social media. This was followed by a similar post from comedy band The Lonely Island. Member Andy Samberg’s character in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a diehard Die Hard fan.
The spot debuted on October 18, during Fox’s America’s Game of the Week telecast of Green Bay vs. Tampa Bay.
Advance Auto Parts partnered with Hall of Famer Adam Smith, NFL insider Jay Glazer, along with a number of Fox’s broadcast talent to promote the campaign prior to the game.
In terms of earned coverage, the brand sent the film in advance and under embargo to People, USA Today and Variety. It then issued a press release directly after the spot aired.
The 15-second unbranded teaser video racked up 1.7 million views across social media channels, while the two-minute film has been viewed more than 2.2 million views on YouTube.
Across social media, the campaign generated 243,000 likes, 13,000 comments and 5,400 shares, plus 1.6 million views on Instagram Stories.
Additionally, “Die Hard Is Back” led to 1,200 media placements, including 800 in U.S. outlets. In addition to People, USA Today and Variety, the spot was picked up by a number of top-tier outlets including CNN, The Hollywood Report, ESPN, and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.