Agencies are sending employees to Snapchat school

The rise of Snapchat as a viable advertising platform means creative agencies are scrambling to figure it out.

Some agencies take the obvious route: rely on young employees who are avid Snapchat users to double as resident experts. But others, like Huge, BBDO and Havas, are treating Snapchat as just another creative channel to master. All have have held Snapchat challenges to get employees to embrace the platform in-house.

You only truly understand something once you use it. And that is why Brooklyn-based agency Huge set up a special Snapchat program for its employees, thinking that summer would be the “perfect fodder” for Snapchat. It decided to tie in its “Summer Fry Day” program with Snapchat, and encouraged employees to document their day off on the agency’s Snapchat account. Havas Worldwide did something similar, hosting a Snapchat treasure hunt recently, which contained clues about where its employees could find free tickets for a U.S. Open game.

“As marketers, we have to keep up with the latest products and technologies,” said Joe McCaffrey, Huge’s director of social. “We expect everyone on our social teams to be experts in every platform.”

BBDO New York came up with a unique game this summer to weave technology in its daily activities and to get everyone in the office acquainted with Snapchat. To test out different approaches to storytelling in Snapchat’s Stories feature, the agency encouraged its employees to craft their own responses tied to a unique daily theme. Over 100 employees participated, and the stories were compiled in the highlight reel called “BBDO Stories” below:

BBDO Stories from Michael Gentile on Vimeo.

“It is important to be constantly playing with new tech and make it a part of your culture,” said David Rolfe, BBDO’s director of integrated production. “It is used by so many people on their own, but the idea was that if we’re going to be experts, we should institutionalize it and then take the learnings from there to our clients.”

Snapchat may not be the only driver, but executives agree that it is a big consideration for clients looking to develop integrated campaigns. DDB, for instance, has “extended” its creative team to spearhead “social content development” such as branded geofilters on such platforms. This also explains why agencies like Mekanism have gone one step ahead, acquiring social video startup Epic Signal to focus on growing brand communities.

“It is important that we acknowledge that Snapchat is a part of a broad media movement,” said Larry Lac, Havas’ director of social marketing. “Platforms are going to rise and fall, and when you go all in into a platform, it’s a little shortsighted.”