How HP Turned 6-Second Vines Into a 30-Second TV Ad

Brands are repurposing social media, memes into multi-platform campaigns

Brands are constantly seeking creative methods to make their pricey campaigns pay off in more ways than one. But computer giant HP hit the jackpot by turning its Vine campaign for the HP Pavilion x360 convertible laptop into a first-of-its-kind national TV commercial.

HP's vp of worldwide marketing Vikrant Batra said the company decided to aim its lower-priced computer, which can flip between being a tablet or a laptop, at high school and college students. Knowing that young millennials spend hours on Vine, HP, with help from agency 180LA, called for Vine creators on Niche­—a platform that helps brands find social media content creators—to submit ideas that demonstrate the product's versatility, using the hashtag #BendTheRules as inspiration. "You can't force the culture into your brand, you have to get your brand to fit in with the culture," Batra explained. "You have to be comfortable with giving up control."

Creativity was key, but Batra added that having a large Vine following was a strong consideration because it meant greater reach. In total, HP hired about a dozen artists and commissioned around 30 clips. The campaign "definitely exceeded [HP's] expectations," resulting in 950,000 active engagements and 50 million organic views. Robby Ayala, a Vine creator with 2.9 million followers who made two clips for HP, got more than 241,400 revines and 13,900 comments for his content—up to four times better than his nonbranded work. "I told them a traditional commercial won't work. It needs to be in my own style of video and not an ad," he said.

"The clever thing about the HP ad is that the product is also the hero," said Altimeter Group analyst Brian Solis. "You don't even have to know its Vine stars to be able to appreciate what they did."

Solis added that more marketers are repurposing social media or memes. Fiat's recent TV ads were made out of GIFs, while Samsung sourced the creative for its "What Matters Most" campaign from Instagram photographers. But he cautioned that using unknown online personalities or memes might not translate. "It's not going to work for brands who repurpose content across platforms because of laziness. They have to understand the medium and the message," he said.

HP is hoping lightning will strike twice, so it has launched another campaign on Niche. Batra said there's no concrete plan to turn these into a spot, but it's a possibility. "When you're working with content that is so immediate and dynamic, you have to leave room in your planning and react to every minute," he said.