Case Study: Bumble Dubs Serena Williams Super Bowl Queen Bee

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Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Bumble & Serena Williams Put The Ball #InHerCourt

Female-driven dating and networking app, Bumble, is a brand on a mission. Looking to encourage equality and shift gender dynamics, Bumble promotes itself as both a service and a movement.

Adept in the promotional tools of today, Bumble is no stranger to utilizing influencer marketing to broadcast its message. In the brand’s latest partnership with tennis phenom, Serena Williams, Bumble aired a commercial created entirely by women during Super Bowl LIII—the first in the game’s history.

Leading By Example At Super Bowl LIII, Bumble Continues To #MakeTheFirstMove

When Bumble launched in 2014, it wasn’t just introducing a new dating app—it also looked to create an avenue to empower women. Founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd after leaving rival, Tinder, Bumble’s platform requires women to send the first message after a match has been made.

When it comes to their own outreach, Bumble has repeatedly leveraged the power of influencer marketing. Speaking about the company’s early days, Wolfe Herd has credited micro-influencers with helping to build brand awareness.

In 2017, Bumble used Instagram to showcase a house party near Coachella. Influencers utilized the hashtag #winterbumbleland to promote the uber-hip event taking place alongside the already hip music festival.

As Bumble has grown, the brand has also gone on to collaborate with celebrities. Last year, the company’s ads with musician, Marshmello, made Mediakix’s list of 5 most notable influencer marketing campaigns of 2018. The campaign, which offered fans an opportunity to get involved with one of the producer/DJ’s upcoming videos, resulted in an impressive 559,000 likes and comments.

Bumble Blitzes The Super Bowl

While the players in the National Football League (NFL) are currently all men, more and more women are making their mark inside the sport as coaches, officials, and owners. Female viewers have been on the rise as well, comprising almost half of the sport’s fans. However, while female viewers reportedly pay more attention to the Super Bowl— as well as the multiple million dollar ads therein—commercials aimed at females have drawn criticism.

Instead of placating female viewers of the Super Bowl, Bumble’s ad looked to inspire and empower them. Partnering with one of the most dominant women athletes in history, Bumble highlighted Serena William’s excellence as an act of ambition and drive. Williams’ legendary track record as a champion tennis player makes her a perfect fit for this campaign.

Collaborating with Williams had been a long time aspiration of Wolfe Herd, who talked about the ad’s genesis on her Instagram account:

“One day, in an effort to showcase women making the first move, I went to the store, bought some pink tennis balls, slapped Bumble stickers on them and took a photo, captioned “the ball is in her court on Bumble.” I sent the photo (second image in this post) to our earliest employees, and told them if we worked really hard, didn’t take no for an answer, and stayed true to our mission of ending misogyny, that maybe, just MAYBE, one day, we would be able to partner with @serenawilliams — the ultimate first mover, the G.O.A.T, and epitome of a woman who has the ? in her court in all aspects of her life — and have her champion our vision and share it with the world.”

Goals

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  • Awareness – Promote Bumble’s three flagship services (Date, BFF, Biz) and communicate its philosophy to the Super Bowl’s massive audience.
  • Engagement – In line with its own ethos, the brand asked women to take action.
  • Cause – Putting brand values front and center, Bumble highlighted the conversation around women’s equality.

Approach

  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencer: Celebrity athlete, Serena Williams

Serena Williams may have captured the world’s attention with her tennis prowess, but the 23 Grand Slam title holder has since become a prominent figure in popular culture. With 10.6 million followers on Instagram, the athlete, mother, and entrepreneur regularly gives fans glimpses into her multifaceted life. Williams has also become a strong voice for equality on social media, showing support for causes such as Black Lives Matter.

Williams and Bumble align in many respects. As both break new ground and make their voices heard, their messages and channels of communication have also complemented each other. WIlliams’ new fashion line, Serena, utilizes the hashtag #BeSeenBeHeard, while Bumble’s #MakeTheFirstMove tag delivers a similar sentiment. Combining William’s storied background, Bumble’s ambitions, and their shared values, the #InHerCourt collaboration feels seamless, timely, and authentic.

Results

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 10,667,397

Super Bowl Reach

  • 98.2 million TV-only viewers
  • 100.7 million viewers across all platforms
  • 112.7 million people across all platforms when out-of-home-viewing is included

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While the Super Bowl continues to be one of the most-watched broadcast events in the United States, viewership has seen a decline in recent years. Overnight information available through The Nielsen Company counted 98.2 million television viewers—an 11-year ratings low—while an uptick in streaming brought the total combined viewers to 100.7 million. CBS’ coverage of the event averaged 112.7 million people across all platforms with the inclusion of out-of-home-viewing.

Engagement

  • Views: 641,000
  • Likes: 159,959
  • Comments: 3,431
  • Engagement rate (likes + comments): 1.5% (views not factored in)
  • Engagement rate (views + comments): 6% (likes not factored in)
  • #InHerCourt: 540

Serena’s #InHerCourt Bumble Sponsored Post

Caption (note: Serena Williams’ original post has since been removed)

“Don’t wait to be told your place. Take it. Don’t wait for people to find you. Find them — in work, love, and life — on @bumble. #InHerCourt”

Top Comments

drmaggiecadet
@serenawilliams You are so right! We should take charge of our personal lives! Love is worth it! Thank you for the words of inspiration!

meet_themillions
Serena I’ve watched this multiple times today, just embedding it in my brain. Thank you so much for always motivating, pushing, and supporting woman! ?

kofiko
I don’t like commercials, but I love this one! Go Serena!

openingourhearts
Best commercial ❤️ Thank you

caitclarke8
????‍♀️ This message (& partnership) is everything!

After The Branded Super Bowl Win

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The next day, Bumble followed up their Super Bowl commercial with a full page ad in the New York Times. Reading, “Women, The Ball Is In Your Court,” the large text was accompanied by Williams and Wolfe Herd’s signatures, as well as the #InHerCourt hashtag.

Takeaways

  • When brands and influencers with similar missions collaborate, ads feel organic and authentic.
  • Television commercials can continue their life online, leading to conversations and engagement on social media.
  • Brands that genuinely support social causes have the opportunity to connect with an enthused and energized audience.
  • Celebrity influencers continue to have the ability to reach massive audiences.