A New Perspective on Storytelling

A New Perspective on Storytelling

April 25, 2024

4 minute Read

ZIPS Car Wash combines sports with car washes and creates engaging consumer content.

By Rebecca Latacz, Chief Marketing Officer, ZIPS Car Wash 

Over 50 million brand impressions in one year. This is what ZIPS Car Wash has been able to achieve with one of its most creative and groundbreaking marketing initiatives: ZIPS Car Wash Convos™, a video-based approach to NIL (name, image, likeness).

Debuting in 2022, this marketing initiative combines what ZIPS does best with what many of the locals love most: car washing combined with conversations with celebrities of local, college sports teams. ZIPS tapped into team loyalty to help develop and enhance brand loyalty, while concurrently learning how to utilize a sponsorship program to grow brand awareness and connect with customers on a local level. 

Season 1 featured just 12 episodes with 12 student-athletes and its success led us to expand in year two both on the school sponsorship side and in NIL deals. This year we expanded to 14 schools and 22 student-athletes, with six of those schools represented in Car Wash Convos videos for the ’23-’24 academic year.

And this is how we did it.

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1. Add Compelling Video to Enhance Brand Marketing 
Season 1 of Car Wash Convos™ garnered over 2 million video views and 4 million impressions, challenging us to expand for Season 2 and to utilize video content on social media channels in unique ways to garner more engagement. 

Our collaboration with Learfield Studios brought Car Wash Convos to life. Learfield’s innovative ideas matched with our goals and ideas to provide a unique approach to NIL. Our hope with the series was to be unexpected and fun. We based the series off James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke and the magic just happened when the student-athlete and their host entered the tunnel. Even with questions prepared for them, we found ourselves getting some fun and impromptu responses from the student-athletes and their hosts. Combined with the constantly changing, colorful and exciting car wash background, the recordings had a level of intrigue and candidness not normally seen in interviews.  

2. Create Authentic Conversations 
The content is real and that’s what makes it compelling. The adlib follow-up questions by our hosts are some of the best questions and the best content in the series. It was interesting that for the first few episodes, the student-athletes who had other NIL deals would ask, “What do you want me to say?” and our response was always, “Whatever you want to say. You don’t have to say anything about ZIPS. Be yourself and have fun with it.” The result is authentic content that we could never create on our own. 

We utilized hosts from the university who are our student-athlete’s peers to facilitate the interviews, wearing school swag at one of our local car washes. Because we are trying to tell unique stories with Car Wash Convos, Season 2 boasts 22 new student-athlete episodes featuring rapid fire Q&As and more probing questions than Season 1. 

3. Choose Representation Carefully
Student-athletes are diligently selected for Car Wash Convos by our team, alongside the recommendations of Learfield, Learfield Studios and Opendorse. Our partnership in the effort allows us to select student-athletes that meet our brand values. We narrow down the athlete roster to have good representation from both male and female student-athletes across the full collegiate year from both major sports and Olympic sports. And some of our best storytelling and most engaging content has come from female student-athletes. We review each student athlete’s records, time with their university, the leadership role they may or may not play on their team, and their social media channels to select those who are aligned with our brand’s mission and vision. 

4. Learn from the Challenges, Embrace the Rewards 
The transfer portal is one roadblock from Season 1 that caused us to reassess our approach to student-athlete selection for Season 2. Changes currently happening in college sports — like athletes changing schools through the transfer portal and conference realignment — have impacted how we have executed Car Wash Convos.  One of our student-athletes from year one transferred soon after we shared the content. While we were extremely excited for that individual, it was challenging for us because now our use of that content changes. In year two, we filmed episodes early and will release each one during the respective student-athlete’s sports season, which has allowed us to slowly reveal our roster of student-athletes as the academic year unfolds and feature them prior to any changes they may make in their athletic status. 

We’ve found that utilizing YouTube shorts, Instagram Reels and TikTok has increased our engagement with the video series in year two. Several episodes released so far in Season 2 have reached more than 80,000 views through strategic placement on these platforms and with amplification by the student-athletes, their respective universities and Learfield. 

Altogether, we had well over 50 million brand impressions in year one by executing a comprehensive plan to include social media, local engagement, public relations, digital advertising and more. But at the end of the day, this comprehensive approach helped us improve our traffic and our sales, as well as our overall brand recognition, making our video-based marketing strategy not only fun to execute and share, but a growing success. 

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