Startups hoping to stand out at South by Southwest (SXSW) face a tall order. As the festival has grown larger, so has the noise created by companies looking to be the year’s breakout star. That means that those companies that do succeed in delivering their message will do so through a combination of creativity and some luck
One company that gets the challenge of standing out amid deafening noise is Adly. The LA-based celebrity social endorsement platform helps brands connect with consumers on social media through the use of celebrity influencers. The magic of the platform lies in its ability to connect each company with the ideal celebrity to reach their target audience. Adly has over 1,000 athletes, musicians, and actors to choose from, and uses proprietary data and algorithms to determine the best celebrity match.
Heading into SXSW, Adly is launching a promotion to help this year’s “hottest” startup further break through by giving away a celebrity Tweet. In order to be eligible, companies must Tweet their pitch, including a desired celebrity endorser. All entries must include the tags “@adly #sxsw #pitchadly,” meaning companies will have only 117 free characters with which to deliver their most compelling argument. (Only one entry and one Tweet is permitted per company.)
The contest began yesterday at 12pm and will end on March 15th at 12pm PST. The winner will be determined through a vote among Adly team members and will be announced on Monday, March 25. Criteria considered in the vote will include the originality of the startup’s product and its celebrity selection, the commercial viability of the pitch and product, and Adly’s ability to match the product with a relevant celebrity figure. In other words, the company will pick its favorite company and the one that it thinks it can most effectively elevate through a celebrity social endorsement. (Pro Tip: Don’t choose Charlie Sheen.)
The campaign will be a boost for the winning startup, which will get its brand in front of millions of demographically targeted eyeballs. And while Adly can’t declare a finite dollar value of such exposure – since it varies according to the endorser – it will guarantee a minimum number of impressions.
But CEO Walter Delph sees the campaign as more than just a way to help a lesser known company. He believes that by leveraging the existing conversation about startups “winning SXSW,” he can also reiterate the value that Adly offer brands. If authentic, celebrity Tweets can drive enormous engagement, Delph says. With companies more focused than ever on advertising ROI, he knows it’s critical to see sales conversions from paid campaigns.
“Instead of trying to create our own buzz – like most companies this week – we want to show brands our ability to help them,” he says. “We have a great tool that can create significant engagement, and we’re looking to show off our wares.”
Adly has company raised $5.5 million in financing since its launch in 2009 and is backed by GRP Partners, Greycroft Partners, and LowerMyBills founder Matt Coffin. Delph will be be speaking on a panel at this year’s conference titled “The New ROI: Return on Influence,” alongside Plus Capital’s Adam Lilling, Gobbler founder Chris Kantrowitz, actress Sophia Bush, and Spike.com host Dhani Jones.