With pandemic lockdowns threatening the value of Deloitte's United States Golf Association sponsorship, the company turned to augmented reality, creating an app that allowed viewers to personalize their U.S. Open viewing experience while giving Deloitte the chance to show off its chops as a developer of digital experiences.
Global businesses have trusted Deloitte for more than 150 years to solve complex business challenges related to accountancy, process, and corporate and tax issues. Far less well known is Deloitte's decade-long expansion into digital marketing and the creation of digital experiences for consumers, which was done through the launch of Deloitte Digital in 2012. Deloitte's ongoing sponsorship of the United States Golf Association (USGA) was meant to position the business as a leader in both business advising and digital marketing expertise.
High profile sporting events like the USGA's U.S. Open reach key business decision-makers. The challenge for Deloitte was to create a sponsorship solution that overcame the obstacles created by the pandemic, showcased Deloitte's digital expertise, and delivered targeted reach with key decision-makers.
The U.S. Open is a premiere sports event that attracts decision-makers, high-income households, and millions of viewers, as well as many of Deloitte's clients. A valuable portion of Deloitte's overall USGA sponsorship was the activation opportunities, including onsite events, VIP passes, and a week of networking with business leaders, prospective clients, and current Deloitte customers. The pandemic required creative adaptations in order to sustain Deloitte's reach to these key audiences.
Due to economic contractions and the widespread uncertainty created by the pandemic, corporate marketing budgets were cut and commitments put on hold. Deloitte's budget was no exception. Additionally, the USGA had to both postpone the U.S. Open, then proceed without live fans or onsite events. This change created a need for greater app visibility in order for Deloitte to still gain value from its sponsorship.
With no opportunities to engage targets onsite at the U.S. Open, promotion of the Deloitte app was reconceived. Broadcast television QR codes were used to link to Deloitte.com and help drive downloads. A television spot drove demand while demonstrating AR features within the app that would enhance the U.S. Open TV-viewing experience.
Augmented Reality (AR) can turn sporting events viewed by fans through television coverage into immersive experiences that merge the roles of viewer and active participant. In 2019, Deloitte introduced a new AR app for the U.S. Open that brought users onto three iconic holes at Pebble Beach, the course where the tournament was being held. The app gave users full control to visualize the holes from all angles, explore U.S. Open history, and gain new ways to follow the action. The app was well received by both fans and the USGA.
That early success became a launching point to devise a truly transformational experience. Every hole, every golfer, and every shot would be brought into a companion app and featured during Deloitte's 2020 U.S. Open sponsorship. The app prominently featured "Developed by Deloitte" across all brand touchpoints to reinforce the positioning of Deloitte's digital expertise with this critical audience of decision-makers, clients, and business leaders.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Expanding the app to cover every hole, follow each golfer, and track every shot meant that app development began soon after the 2019 U.S. Open ended. The data challenges were formidable, involving the integration of third-party player and shot-tracking data streams, with all these GPS data streams located within the app's detailed 3D course environment. Real-time championship data was selectively combined by a user-controlled AR interface, which allowed viewers to select which golfers and which holes to watch. Deloitte teams across the globe worked collaboratively under pandemic restrictions to build this new version of the app.
Outside of the technical work, delivery of the "Developed by Deloitte" message had to be reimagined for pandemic-constrained circumstances. A COVID-compliant television commercial showcased the app, along with QR code features on broadcast for one-click download.
Ease of use was prioritized since most users would download and immediately use the app during the tournament. The app had to be simple, intuitive, and easily navigated. Demand was unknown, so the platform had to be easily scalable and support high potential loads during the event. User controls had to allow easy player search. The scalable architecture handled more than 165,000 sessions over 14 days. The AR platform ingested and integrated frequently updated live data streams. These unprecedented traffic and demand loads were delivered within a secure environment, with no downtime and zero security incidents.
By going to market in multiple channels with integrated messaging, this campaign delivered exceptional results. Despite substantial marketing budget reductions, this 2020 campaign outperformed the prior year due to more intentional landing page design, strategic paid investments, and USGA sponsorship support of Deloitte's campaign objectives through redeployed assets.
The 2020 USGA sponsorship led to Deloitte's most successful offline marketing exposure to online traffic conversion in the company's U.S. marketing history, while driving a year-over-year increase three times higher in keyword natural search and generating nearly 100 million total media impressions.
The QR code within broadcast drove nearly 50 percent of total traffic to the Deloitte landing page during the championship, with 35 percent of that traffic then downloading the app. That was the single most successful broadcast execution in Deloitte's U.S. marketing history. The U.S. Open AR deployment resulted in more than seven million app engagements and ranked in the Top 15 downloaded apps in the App Store.
This campaign delivered substantial upper funnel benefits in decision-maker awareness and engagement. A number of key Deloitte accounts interacted with the campaign, delivering on the overall objective to engage prominent clients with Deloitte's cutting-edge digital expertise. Deloitte's Digital Reality practice team gained 10 press hits featuring the U.S. Open AR app and thereby showcased their talents.