Case Study

How Nokia made 'Snake' relevant to a new generation

HMD Global and One Green Bean explain how the relaunch of the mobile game delivered "outstanding" brand awareness for Nokia.

How Nokia made 'Snake' relevant to a new generation

Overview

Finnish mobile phone maker HMD Global recently announced the release of a new generation of smartphones, through an exclusive ten-year brand licensing deal with Nokia.

HMD Global tasked its global social, content and PR agency One Green Bean with igniting excitement around the forthcoming Nokia handset range in social media. The campaign needed to be grounded in ‘human experience’ and build on the Nokia hallmarks that made it one of the most loved brands of the 90s and 00s.

One Green Bean partnered with games development experts CoolGames to bring back the iconic game Snake, and make it playable through Facebook Instant Messenger in an exciting world first.

Nokia 3310 was relaunched this year

The result was a campaign that reached millions of mobile users around the world and became the most successful branded game ever on Facebook.

It has been so successful that Facebook chose it to be one of their new games to be launched on 2G in developing markets. As a result, there were 1.2million new players in one day.

The Issue

The brief was to re-engage a millennial audience with Nokia's mobile offering, as well as reach new, younger audiences.

The challenge was to use social activity to generate buzz, in lieu of any immediate product information being available.

Snake: launched on Nokia handsets 20 years ago

Kat Thomas, One Green Bean’s global executive creative director, adds: "Essentially – the opportunity was to tap into the global nostalgia for the brand to put Nokia back into people’s minds, with a socially-led idea that would positively impact the social ecosystem, and remind people of the brand’s unique heritage in the category".

The Plan

One Green Bean decided to bring back the original iconic Snake game, which launched on Nokia handsets in 1997, but in a way that would make it attention-grabbing, relevant and appealing in 2017.  

In a world first, a playable 'retro' Snake game was launched exclusively on Facebook Instant Messenger – to play, you simply sent the ‘snake’ emoticon to a friend to launch the game. Nokia became the first brand to launch a game on this platform after Facebook granted CoolGames special access (during closed beta) to build and test the game.  

Thomas says: "This approach allowed us to drum up excitement for the return of a much-loved icon by putting it in a new environment – arguably the most relevant – the social  platform that connects billions of people across the world."

This initiative saw the original Snake property evolve into a social, multi-player proposition, where players challenged friends to compete for the highest scores, which were displayed on leaderboards within Instant Games. This became a key factor in driving repeat usage.


Mobile World Congress: Nokia executives relaunched Snake at the event in Barcelona

The game was developed in just six weeks with development partner CoolGames. It was launched live on stage at Mobile World Congress 2017 by Nokia executives, at the brand's 'we're back' global press event. Attendees (including 350 of the world's media) were invited to take out their phones and be the first people worldwide to play the game.

The game release was teased with a cryptic Snake message the day before, and supported with playable ads on Facebook that generated further sharing and engagement. On the day of launch, a press release went out to tech media globally driving instant coverage. Gaming influencers picked it up and promoted it within minutes on blogs and websites.

Thomas says: "Millions of people seized upon it immediately. The game was played in over 70 countries, with most of these games played on non-Nokia phones, which one commentator described as the most stealth guerrilla stunt ever".

Results

The response was phenomenal and even took Facebook by surprise.

This initiative delivered both outstanding brand awareness and commercial targeting opportunities via Facebook retargeting:

  • over 3 million plays achieved on the first day, and 32 million plays in the six weeks since launch (vs. KPI of one million total plays);

  • KPI reached within two hours;

  • huge earned media was gained through social sharing and direct challenges amongst friends within Facebook Messenger, in both one-to-one messages as well as group chats;

  • 99.9% positive sentiment from users;

  • chosen by Facebook to be launched on 2G globally;

  • 1.2 million new players on 2G launch day.