2018 Brand Experience & Activation


Short List
Category D03. Use of Social & Digital Platforms
Idea Creation CASTENOW Düsseldorf, GERMANY
Media Placement CROSSMEDIA Düsseldorf, GERMANY
Production TACSY Berlin, GERMANY
Production 2 SPIN TV Köln, GERMANY
Name Company Position
Jörg Wolf Castenow GmbH Creative Manager
Dominik Weber Castenow GmbH Creative Director
Roman Rösler Castenow GmbH Senior Art Director
Luca Beuke Castenow GmbH Copywriter
Sebastian Rheinländer Castenow GmbH Junior Art Director
Paulina Meier Castenow GmbH Account Manger
Rheinhold Geneikis SpinTV Managing Director
Daniel Goihl Tacsy GmbH Managing Director
Sonja Dietrich Tacsy GmbH Account Manger SoMe
Andreas Moosburg MTE Motion Designer
Stefan Raabe MTE Motion Designer
Andrea Schröder Crossmedia GmbH Head of Mediaplanning
Florian Holub Crossmedia GmbH Account Planner Media
Nina Klaes Crossmedia GmbH Account Planner Media
Nicholas Stricker Spectrm Managing Director
Katrin Kramer SpinTV Producer
Marc Heinrich SpinTV VJ
Daniel Suarez SpinTV VJ
Marcel Krüger SpinTV VJ
Stefan Emilian SpinTV VJ
Philip Hüwe SpinTV VJ

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation ?

MALI changed the image of the Federal Armed Forces employer brand and recruiting activities. The ChatBot and immersive user experience, with click-to-Messenger ads and a social media ecosystem, put the foreign deployment onto followers’ smartphones. Exclusive content was produced by an embedded crew to create realistic and very personal footage of the soldiers. The series and brand became part of people's lives. The transparency and insights it provided effectively eliminated public fears and preconceptions. This is as close to “live” military as you’ll get. The fine-tuned interplay of campaign elements, channel-specific content and brand experience make this campaign absolutely unique.


More than 3,700 German soldiers are currently on foreign deployments with the Federal Armed Forces. Most of them feel well-prepared for their missions. They’re aware of the risks and receive intensive training beforehand. But the public – and that includes potential recruits – see things differently. The lack of public knowledge and transparency on foreign deployments fuel vague fears that dissuade young people from applying for a job in the armed forces. What’s it really like for soldiers on deployment? What toll does their absence take on family members? What people with other occupations are also deployed? The MALI series provides answers to these questions by showing every aspect of day-to-day life at the camp and facilitating direct dialogue via Facebook Messenger ChatBot. Objectives: to establish a new communication platform that allows to get acquainted with the Federal Armed Forces and to strengthen the existing YouTube fan base.

Describe the creative idea

The goal was to provide the target group with real-time updates and to establish a new platform that allows to get acquainted with the Federal Armed Forces. For that we developed an immersive series strongly geared to young media consumer behavior that established “everyday operations” as a real part of young people’s lives. Transparent, in real-time and so engaging that users feel like they are following the life of a friend. We accompanied 8 soldiers on deployment in Mali and communicated their very personal stories in the target audiences’ media.

Describe the strategy

Close to the target audience and in tune with the time. The format communicated real content, not advertising messages. And it won people over to authenticity and courage. It genuinely connected with young people. In the centre of the strategy is the biggest German-language ChatBot and a YouTube series which is set in a war zone. Accompanied by a perfect coordination of idea, content, media/social media, bot conversation and community management. Exclusive, coordinated and channel-specific content was published and the channels were linked to each other to ensure a comprehensive campaign experience and to keep on giving the target group reasons to stay immersed in the campaign. The core target group was women and men aged 15 to 35 years who had the opportunity to get to know the Federal Armed Forces as a potential employer throughout the campaign but although the general public.

Describe the execution

We used all social web tools in the campaign plus additional on/offline channels. The main vehicle, a storytelling-ChatBot in the Facebook Messenger. Herewith anyone could take part in about 170 bot conversations and experience the story in real time – with 24/7 videos, images, locations and news from waking up, to the Mali marathon and a Tiger helicopter crash to engage with young people in their environment and to communicate with them daily. We didn't use any expensive VR technology. Instead, we “embedded” several VJ’s who worked around the clock at Camp Castor. This created a digital ecosystem consisting of the YouTube series, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat profiles and the first German-language ChatBot in the advertising world. The audience received push messages via Facebook several times per day or night. A cross-media campaign stirred up hype and made the series a talking point on all platforms. Duration: 5.10. – 4.12.2017

List the results

MALI steered the discourse on the Federal Armed Forces employer brand and its recruiting activities in a new direction, and the in-depth insights alleviated fears. Over 35,000 users and a click-through rate of approx. 18% turned the series bot into the biggest German-language story ChatBot overnight, putting it on a par with successful breaking news bots. The YouTube community expanded by around 80,000 followers and 2.1 million people used the Snapchat lens. However, the most important thing was the positive feedback of the community with a 93% like rate. MALI was perceived as completely serious and “real“. 35,000 ChatBot users 40,000 bot requests daily Approx. 80,000 new YouTube subscribers Approx. 440,000 fans on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram Over 55 million minutes of watch time 16 of 42 videos in the YouTube Trends 2,1 million Snapchat-lens users Approx. 398,000 Spotify plays + 60% visits to the Federal Armed Forces careers website