LadBible on why the whole company took the day off to play PlayStation 5

LadBible Group won the ‘Best new product or publication launch’ category at The Drum Awards for Content 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveals the secrets of this successful project....

The challenge

The PS4 dominated the last generation console market but research showed that some were sceptical of how much further PlayStation could push the boundaries of gaming with the PS5.

LadBible Group was tasked with ensuring PlayStation maintained dominance for the next decade through this launch:

Our brief was to create an iconic and unexpected moment to launch the highly anticipated PS5 and achieve PlayStation’s goals: winning at gaming; convincing committed gamers to choose PS5; winning at culture; signalling to the wider market that PlayStation are the major player, all whilst embodying PlayStation’s mission - ‘Play Has No Limits’.

The strategy

LadBible Group is a household name, our content reaches two-thirds of 18–34-year-olds in the UK monthly and receives 750k+ comments a day on Facebook alone. Our position within British culture paired with our experience in creating ‘movements’, made us the perfect partner to deliver an iconic moment and amplify the significance of the PS5 launch.

Working with our Data, Intelligence and planning team, we learnt that 1/3 of Brits would consider taking a day off to play their new console [OnePulse Poll, Aug 2020]. That gave us an idea. What if all of LadBible Group took the day off to play.

Our strategy - create an unmissable moment disrupting the norm, surprising our audience and rallying them to join us in taking their own Play Day, marking the biggest moment in gaming of the decade.

The campaign

In a LADbible Group first, PlayStation hijacked our five of our core brands (LadBible, UniLad, SportBible, UniLad Tech and GamingBible) and paused our editorial content; a bold move for a social publisher that relies on consistent content to maintain traffic.

Instead, we inundated news-feeds with unmissable posts, creating over 40 pieces of content showing the message that ‘All of LadBible have the day off, sorry. We figured they’d just be playing PS5 anyway.’

All mirrored on-site, via rich-media takeovers. Instead of product-focused ads, we communicated the same bold messaging; “LadBible has the day off to play PS5, so the ads are having a day off too”.

To ensure Play Day felt inclusive, we hosted a PS5 give-away, asking our audience to send in their best excuses for cancelling plans to play.

Combined, this allowed us to successfully execute a channel-wide PlayStation blackout, taking the industry, competitors and the whole of the internet by surprise.

With the campaign shrouded in secrecy, due to the competitive nature between PlayStation and Xbox, the announcement of prices and live dates were only announced with 8 weeks out. This meant we needed to create over 40 pieces of content in the fastest we have ever executed, all whilst working remotely. To overcome the restrictions that both the secrecy and the Covid-19 pandemic presented, we went back to the roots of social; we filmed all content remotely with a lo-fi, UGC feel that is native to our platforms.

PlayStation needed to drive maximum hype in a short launch window; past console releases have made it clear that the early winner in any launch face-off sets a pace for a generation that is rarely, if ever, overturned. Facing the challenge of reaching as many as possible in 24 hours, we used the breadth of our portfolio to drive mass reach, reaching multiple different audiences at scale across our different brands and platforms. The content was tailored to each specific platform’s unique tone of voice to ensure it was relatable and avoided fatiguing our audiences.

As a social publisher, we rely on consistent traffic and engagement to maintain our foothold within a platform’s algorithm. Pausing all of our usual editorial presented us with the challenge of ensuring that the PlayStation content would receive enough engagement to be successful commercially, but equally to sustain our traffic.

Finally, with PS5 consoles in high demand, we were challenged to ensure that our audience felt included in Play Day. Therefore, we gave our audience a never been seen before peak at what goes on at LadBible Group behind closed doors when we all get the day off to play. We also ran a PlayStation 5 competition, giving away five highly coveted consoles. To enter, the audience had to tell us their best excuse for cancelling plans to play, again involving them in the Play Day moment.

The results

Play Day pushed boundaries like never before, creating a shared cultural moment and shifting audience behaviour.

We surveyed those who engaged with our content:

  • 43% claimed to have taken the day off to play;
  • 95% claimed to either already have a PS5 or plan to buy one;
  • Of those, 64% said they’re likely to cancel plans to play.

Taking our single highest reaching post, this equates to 1.03m people claiming to have taken the day off - that’s 8.3 million hours playing PS5.

We created an unmissable moment across social and on-site. In 24 hours, we:

  • Reached 24m+ people, from committed gamers on GamingBible to the mass-market on LadBible;
  • Generated 2.7m+ video views, our live-stream alone delivering 1.6m;
  • Gained the most engagements for a 1-day branded content campaign in our history;
  • 135k Likes;
  • 11.3k Comments;
  • 6k shares;
  • 2.7k saves;
  • 30k competition entries, our biggest ever for a branded campaign.

During the launch campaign, PlayStation 5 had the most successful UK console launch of all time.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Content 2021. Click here to find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.