How Waste Creative and Supercell took Brawl Stars global overnight

Supercell was awarded the ‘Chair Award’ at The Drum Content Awards 2019 with its Brawl Stars Global Launch campaign, by Waste Creative.

Here, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful campaign.

Pushing Players' Buttons

When Supercell decided to launch manic multiplayer battler Brawl Stars, they needed a global campaign that would ignite its GenZ community of beta players into a frenzy of authentic online noise and turn the heads of mobile gamers everywhere – all without relying on paid media.

Following months of social listening, Waste Creative knew the Brawl Stars beta community was fiercely protective of the game and terrified of losing it. "So, we subtly hinted that it might disappear, then watched the fireworks," says Christian Perrins, head of strategy at Waste Creative.

“We felt that the players deserved to be rewarded for the emotional rollercoaster we took them on, so after the reveal, we went big on joyful, celebratory content and fun times.”

Waste Creative's campaign helped drive 5m pre-registration sign-ups in eight hours, grow the game’s social channels exponentially ranging from 188% on Instagram to 194% on YouTube, and ultimately see it become the number one iPhone app in thirty-two countries earning over $10m in its first week.

Fear of Loss

As the agency had been involved with Brawl Stars since day one of its beta launch 18 months earlier, it was perfectly placed. It used a mixture of social listening and data analysis to build up a comprehensive understanding of the player base; what made them tick (and kick, and punch, and fire).

The long-standing partnership with Supercell and the year-long journey of evolution from Alpha, Beta through to pre-reg and global launch helped them fully understand the players and the community from the ground up, says Harry Fairfax-Jones, business director of Waste Creative. He adds: "That, coupled with an awesome client willing to take risks meant we could execute on a super successful game launch.”

Using these key insights, Waste Creative devised a deceptively simple strategy that fused Supercell’s reputation for bumping-off games (they’ve killed dozens) with the players’ fervent desire for it to go global.

With its social media about to be ‘reset’ (deleted), the agency teased existing players with an ambiguous final post. Was the game about to bid farewell, or was it a new dawn?

With one static image, no explanatory copy and no paid media, Waste Creative generated several million organic impressions and an engagement rate of 26%.

No-one was certain what was happening, but everyone was talking. Community speculation was pushed into overdrive, prompting tens of thousands of social posts, memes, conspiracy theory videos, songs, online petitions and a trending hashtag; #dontkillbrawlstars.

All was revealed with a YouTube Live Stream: global! The follow-up sunrise image confirming the game’s launch earned even higher reach and engagement (27%).

Community Unity

With a rapidly growing global community awaiting the game’s official launch, the agency needed to foster goodwill between the millions of new sign-ups and the OBs (Original Brawlers) from the beta-testing period.

Over the next month, Waste created a raft of content driving pre-registration, thanking the OBs for all their support, introducing and educating new players to the game, and comparing sign-ups in different territories to motivate its competitive community to get as many of their peers as possible involved.

Supercell’s target of two million sign-ups in the four-week pre-reg period hit five million in the first eight hours, and snowballing from there.

Launching in Style

At the official launch event in Helsinki, Waste were there – along with 100 content creators – to amplify and celebrate the long-awaited day. They ‘brawlified’ the influencers – literally turning them into their own bespoke Brawl Stars characters, earning thousands of shares and engagement from their audiences

The agency also chronicled the day, shooting and editing footage for Instagram Stories, prompting one in three of the 240k and rapidly growing Instagram followers to ask questions during a live AMA session, and creating a true sense of global community as the game’s launch button was pushed by its most fêted players.

Ryan Lighton, community manager at Supercell said: "Waste has been an invaluable strategic, creative and production partner right from the earliest days of Brawl Stars.

"Their no-nonsense approach to content creation and intrinsic knowledge of the game has been integral to the Brawl stars journey, from before we went into beta through to global launch. Waste have been there with us every step of the way."

In its first week, Brawl Stars earned over $10m and was the number one iPhone app in thirty-two countries.

This project was awarded at The Drum Content Awards 2019. Click here to register your interest in 2020's awards.

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