Hard Rock International: Hard Rock International Uses AI to Win on Snapchat


Campaign Summary

With the launch of its Hard Rock Blackjack Casino game, Hard Rock International made a foray into mobile marketing for the first time in the brand's history. To ensure success, Hard Rock used a test-and-learn methodology combined with an AI-powered creative analysis to iterate and optimize its campaign efforts. The results of doing so brought Hard Rock to new channels like Snapchat for the first time. There, the brand designed a campaign that surpassed the results of its past efforts on more traditional channels like Facebook.



With its new Hard Rock Blackjack Casino mobile game, Hard Rock International expanded its business beyond restaurants, hotels, and casinos and into the mobile market. To make this endeavor a success, Hard Rock had to develop a mobile strategy for the first time. The brand needed to design high-quality campaign creative and optimize the performance of that creative in order to:

  • Reach and exceed ROI goals for Hard Rock Blackjack Casino.
  • Drive engagement throughout the entire user funnel.
  • Leverage data insights to fuel future acquisition, optimization, and retargeting campaigns.

Target Audience:

The target demographic for this campaign was males ages 25 to 44.

Creative Strategy:

Hard Rock initially ran ads on Facebook for its Hard Rock Blackjack Casino game, testing to see if the platform could deliver the performance the brand needed to hit its goals. During this initial test, promising markets were discovered outside of the U.S., including in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. However, Facebook campaigns proved expensive and unstable and did not achieve expected KPIs.

After this initial trial, Hard Rock began testing creative on Snapchat, which had a high penetration in both the countries of opportunity discovered during the Facebook campaign and with males aged 25 to 44. To maximize engagement, Hard Rock produced a new series of Story and Snap Ads with the creative optimized to drive app installations and purchases.


Hard Rock International is a globally recognized and successful brand. But Hard Rock Blackjack Casino was its first foray into mobile gaming. As such, the brand lacked the experience and expertise to design and analyze ad creative for the mobile marketing funnel. Because of this, Hard Rock needed to use a test-and-learn methodology that would allow it to gain the necessary data and insights to optimize a campaign.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Given the nature of the campaign, Hard Rock International allocated 100 percent of its more than $1 million budget to mobile.

Mobile Execution:

The campaign was powered by Alison, an AI technology developed by Hard Rock's agency partner that optimized for conversions, cost-effectiveness, and ROI. Alison worked by leveraging data derived from computer vision technology and machine learning algorithms, letting marketers understand which colors, music, text, and characters drove ad performance. Social media campaign managers then blended these data insights with their own experience to design the most effective ad creative. This technique turned what has historically been a strictly human art into campaign data that could be quantified, analyzed, and optimized.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The Hard Rock Blackjack Casino campaign marked the first time Hard Rock International used Snapchat to target a global audience. Because this was a new endeavor, the marketing team felt it was critical that the campaign performed exceptionally well and surpassed the performance of campaigns done on larger, more traditional channels like Facebook. In the end, the campaign did just that, surpassing all of the campaign's KPIs. Highlights included:

  • 138 percent gain on click-through rate
  • 103 percent seven-day return on investment
  • 109 percent thirty-day return on investment

Thanks to the campaign's success, Hard Rock followed up by scaling activity to include dozens of additional markets and platforms, including TikTok and Google. Snapchat is expected to become a prominent channel for the brand in the years to come.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Gaming/Gamification and E-Sports | Awards: NA Finalist