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How Foot Locker’s #HorseWithHarden Campaign Put Its Audience to Work

Houston Rockets guard James Harden

Just before the holidays, Foot Locker came out with an awesome campaign featuring Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden, asking users to compete in a virtual game of horse. It wound up being a master-class in how to run a campaign that asks its audience to become participants.

I work closely with our retail clients at Simply Measured. As a result, I see a ton of different campaigns that test a bunch of different strategies. One of the things that struck me about the #HorseWithHarden campaign was the way it used so many different elements of social in one fell swoop. It was by no means the most successful campaign of the year or the first to push for audience engagement, but it is an awesome learning tool for how to build audience participation and an overall awesome campaign.

4 Lessons from #HorseWithHarden

1. Drum Up Engagement Before a Retail Campaign

How Foot Locker’s #HorseWithHarden Campaign Put Its Audience to Work

The #HorseWithHarden Campaign preceded two very important events. The first was the inevitable march of the Holidays into our minds (and news feeds). Maybe more importantly was the return of Foot Locker’s Week of Greatness (which also had some very enjoyable content) in which the company releases a bevy of new shoes. #HorseWithHarden helped bring Footlocker to the forefront of consumers’ minds just as they were about to enter the most important buying season of the year.

2. Get Mysterious Before the Launch

Promoting the event in Harden’s feed was especially clever, giving Foot Locker access to his huge following. An added bonus was other famous ballers jumping in on the#HorseWithHarden campaign including Chris Paul, Jeremy Lin, and Damian Lillard. JH

3. Uniquely Tie the Campaign to the Celebrity

Influencers are essential to a solid social strategy, but just attaching a name isn’t good enough (as I unfortunately see all the time). Foot Locker gave its audience the chance to challenge a star in the very thing that made him a star. This is a huge push to give the audience a little extra incentive to jump in on the action. One of my favorites:

Hold camera in hand while dunking and get yourself in the dunk.Should be easy for #horsewithharden @footlocker

A video posted by Justin Mayfield (@jmayz100) on

4. Build Urgency by Defining a Campaign End Date

All good stories, whether literary or social, need a beginning and end. Putting an end date on a social campaign is great for building urgency, especially as the #HorseWithHarden campaign nears the climax. The campaign actually reached peak engagement about a week before the actual event because Foot Locker had created a sense of urgency and the story went viral:

It’s also important to have a climax. Foot Locker ended with a great series of Youtube videos that drove a ton of traffic.

Trying to drum up content from your audience is certainly not easy, but following Foot Locker’s formula can help. Hype the event with a sense of mystery, make it unique, tie it to a celebrity, and build urgency by setting an end date. What are your favorite tips for social campaigns?

Matt Tesmond

As a product specialist, I help educate our sales team on all things social media, and make sure they have the resources to best communicate what makes Simply Measured the best Social Analytics solution on the planet. In real life, I’m a recovering tennis player, recent father of a fluffy four-legged monster, and still believe that #thedress was white and gold.

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