Buick Will Run Instagram Stories Ads to Support Its Super Bowl Spot

Becomes first auto brand to use the format

Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr star in this year's Super Bowl spot for Buick.
YouTube: Buick

For the second year in a row, Buick will be running a national Super Bowl spot, but this time it will be supported with an ad buy via Instagram Stories.

The full-blown social ad campaign includes Buick becoming the first auto brand (and one of the first brands overall) to utilize Instagram Stories ads since they debuted last month. The campaign—which also includes ad buys across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube—will make this year’s Super Bowl campaign the brand’s largest, according to Buick director of marketing and advertising Molly Peck. (More than half of Buick’s website traffic now comes from mobile devices.)

The campaign—created in collaboration with Facebook Creative Shop and Buick’s agency, Engage M1—stars Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr while playing off the notion that many don’t realize what Buick’s newer models (seven of which are launching within a year) actually look like. The 30-second spot, which debuted on YouTube Tuesday night, will run in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.

“Cam and Miranda were really our top choices for this because they really embody the Buick brand,” Peck said. “They’re smart, they’re likable, they’re funny, they’re approachable, they’re premium and they’re masters of their craft.”

Buick is hoping it can repeat it’s success from last year’s spot. After Buick’s ad ran last year, the company noticed next-day website traffic increase by 100 percent, while people searching for “Buick” on third-party websites increased 500 percent. It was also the fourth-most Tivo’d ad for the game and for the first time landed the brand in Twitter’s list of trending hashtags. (While she wouldn’t say exactly how much the campaign drove in sales, Peck did say it was the brand’s best year financially since 2005.)

The vertical videos with Newton and Kerr also incorporate a number of tools readily available to anyone on Instagram Stories such as text, doodling, and Boomerang. (Ironically, Kerr is engaged to Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, who popularized the format before Instagram-owned Facebook copied it last year.)

According to James Quarles, Instagram’s vice president of business, around 30 advertisers will be launching beta tests for ads on Instagram stories in the next few weeks, with a self-service opening to all advertisers next month. He said Stories has already grown to 150 million daily active users since launching in August.

The message also might be right for the medium–or at least for its audience. According to Instagram, 31 percent of Instagram users interested in buying a new car said the platform has prompted them in the past to consider purchasing a product in the past month. They’re also reportedly more open to information on Instagram, with auto buyers being 1.5 times more likely to use it as research.

“Because it is such a great creative space, because it is immersive, and because businesses are there, it’s just the place where we want to give them the tools to incorporate it into their Instagram presence,” Quarles said in an interview.

There’s another way that the aesthetic of Instagram Stories ads could differ from others on Instagram and Facebook: They more often than not include sound. Unlike Snapchat (which has said ad recall increases when the sound is on), Facebook pushed silent videos in 2016, rolling out automatic captions for brands that want more direct messaging. However, Quarles said people also consume Stories with sound more than they do other videos in Instagram’s main news feed.

“Oftentimes, the sound, because it’s just so raw and in the moment, sound is super helpful,” he said. “So for businesses, I think the impact and intimacy (of Stories) is to use sound,” he said.

After Instagram first launched ads for the platform back in 2013, it waited an entire two years before opening its API to allow marketers to buy ads on a self-service basis. When it finally happened in late 2015, some wondered whether the ads would be as visually appealing as the rest of Instagram or if bad ads might turn users off to the platform. Asked how Instagram is curbing advertisers from ruining the latest format, Quarles said the platform is educating brands on how appeal to blend in.

“The best way to stand out on Instagram is to fit in, and the same is true here,” he said.

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