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By The Drum | Editorial

November 28, 2023 | 5 min read

Northrop Grumman and Dentsu Creative have won the B2B category at The Drum Awards for Social Media. Here is their award-winning case study.

Since 2020, Northrop Grumman (NG) has been on a journey to establish their new brand ethos and mantra: “Defining Possible.”

OBJECTIVES

Research showed that there was a barrier: perception. To many, the bureaucratic "black box" that is Aerospace and Defense (A&D) could never be innovative. The truth is, some of the most innovative technologies were sparked in the A&D industry. Our goal: increase positive perception of Northrop Grumman, despite the stereotypes we faced.

Enter: Overheard at Northrop Grumman, the first serialized comedy built for LinkedIn. We know what you’re thinking. Space? Defense? COMEDY?! But comedy let us break through the preconceived notions of key tech talent audiences, redefining what they know about NG.

STRATEGY

We needed to let people ‘behind the curtain’ to see the innovative – and real – side of Northrop Grumman. Our first priority was to humanize the brand so audiences can see who we are at our core. We created vignettes that showed a side of the company many had never seen, much less expected—humanizing NG and giving life to an industry often thought of as lifeless. This gained the brand consideration and social engagement it never experienced in its history.

“Overheard at Northrop Grumman” set out to make NG more approachable than the A&D stereotype through targeted vignettes—painting a picture of life at NG through the eyes of its employees, while also putting them firmly ahead of the competition as the shapers of what’s possible.

EXECUTION

Starting in Nov. 2021, we dropped new “Overheard” spots into our paid rotation regularly, to amplify the brand in a new and unique way. Spots were placed on users’ feeds across the platforms where our audiences are most active: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit–with post copy tailored to each channel. We anticipated upcoming moments to infuse new Overheard spots with timely cultural relevance – pairing specific media placements to specific creative spots to surround key calendar moments for NG and our audience.

The media targeted prospective talent and Aerospace and Defense customers, including decision makers, investors, influencers, and other secondary targets to lift awareness and perception of the brand further. The messaging was told through short and long-form videos as some platforms responded stronger to one or both, as well as through stills for retargeting efforts.

The reaction has been incredible across all channels–from clients, employees, and even employees at rival companies.

RESULTS

As of November 2022, impressions across social channels have totaled ~50M, with video plays alone totaling ~43M. Compared to other creative running across social within the last year, “Overheard at Northrop Grumman” performed at least 2x higher across every platform. It also outperformed benchmarks set in FY21 in 2022 on LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter, where the VCR saw an increase. LinkedIn continued to improve efficiencies due to stronger engagement in 2022, seeing a significant decrease in CPE – 31% below benchmark. Even the oft-maligned comments section was full of positivity, praise, and partner pranksters in on the jokes.

Measuring success involved reviewing video interactions and completions, social engagements, and action (traffic and applications) on NG’s site. Results were compared to the previous year's performance as a benchmark.

Overall, “Overheard” has been Northrop Grumman’s most successful social campaign to date —and arguably across the entire aerospace industry—with no signs of stopping any time soon.

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