New York Stock Exchange Is Courting Millennials With Snapchat Filters and Vertical Video

Creates content for Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Even a 224-year-old can be on Snapchat these days.

Over the past couple of years, the New York Stock Exchange, which was founded in 1792, has been trying to fit in with the cool kids, honing its social chops on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But most recently, the stock exchange and agency DigitasLBi have found surprising success on Snapchat, both with the company's own account and geofilters that wrap around its iconic Wall Street building in New York's Financial District.

But unlike a lot of brands that lean heavily on paid ads and placements on Snapchat, the NYSE is primarily using its own channel to push out content. Over the past few months, the company has experimented with putting banners promoting its Snapchat account on its building and recently started hanging a massive sign (see image above) a couple of times a week that encourages passersby to add the brand's account. Roughly 20 million people walk by the area each year, according to estimates, and the NYSE hopes to attract more eyeballs to its content.

It also plays with paid geofilters. This morning, Yum Brands—Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC's parent company—is spinning off its China assets, and the NYSE has designed a branded geofilter that people can use in three areas: around the NYSE building at 11 Wall St., in Times Square and at the Yum Brands headquarters across the country. In the later case, employees nearby KFC's Louisville, Ky., headquarters; Taco Bell's in Irvine, Calif.; and Pizza Hut's in Plano, Texas can overlay the graphic on their videos and images today.

Yum Brands isn't the first company the NYSE has worked with to design Snapchat filters on the day of its IPOs.

Matthew Kobach, manager of digital and social media at the NYSE, said the company has a dozen pieces of generic creative used for the geofilters and will often work with organizations to create custom content. For example, there was a custom geofilter on Friday to celebrate Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet going public.

"We're willing to take chances with new technology, new social platforms or whatever it might be," Kobach said.

"We still have this iconic floor that's a bucket-list item for people to come through and ring the bell. We get the benefit where we constantly have interesting people coming through here," said Tom Farley, president of NYSE. "It's something that's really resonating and appealing to the younger, post-college crowd that's wrestling with, 'OK, how do I make my mark in my career?' We have this greater mission, which is: 'How can we demystify what we do and to some extent demystify what we do in the capital markets?'"

The bulk of the brand's own content comprises videos and interviews with celebrities and businesspeople who come through the NYSE. In the past week, the account has featured interviews with filmmaker Ron Howard, who used a short video to give advice to aspiring filmmakers, and sportscaster Jim Nantz, who gave advice on how to be successful.

"As soon as we started doing that, the feedback that we got was immediate, the number of people adding us increased significantly, so that's at the moment where we've found a sweet spot," Farley said.

Tessa Horehled, DigitasLBi's vp and group director of social strategy, added that the strategy is particularly laudable for the financial services category, which tends to shy away from social and digital.

"One of the fun things about it is that it really offers flexibility and creativity, and it's something that a lot of financial companies are very uncomfortable doing," Horehled said. "They're often addressing very different audiences, depending on who the IPO is for."

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.