Brynn Zech discusses TE Connectivity’s partnership with 20th Century Fox and the creation of their “The Science Behind Science Fiction” campaign

TE Connectivity recently teamed up with 20th Century Fox for a digital campaign called “The Science Behind Science Fiction,” which included exclusive video content exploring the technology portrayed in the sci-fi movie, Alita: Battle Angel.

Social Media Manager Brynn Zech led the campaign’s distribution across their social channels in alignment with the movie’s release in February 2019.

It all started in February 2018, when TE Connectivity’s global brand team began to realize that most of the company’s marketing efforts were focused solely on products.

Our objective was to elevate brand awareness, but we also needed to drive traffic to TE.com to convert new visitors and build our database. Brynn Zech
“We noticed we were starting to lose some relevance with young engineers and were beginning to blur the lines between brand and product marketing,” Brynn said.

During that time, they challenged their teams and agencies to identify an idea that could elevate TE’s brand awareness.

In August 2018, they signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to create a digitally led, omni-channel campaign built around the studio’s upcoming film, Alita: Battle Angel.

“The Science Behind Science Fiction” campaign brought together TE’s industrial technology brand with Alita’s narratives and visuals.

Alita: Battle Angel takes place on a futuristic, dystopian Earth and incorporates key themes of female empowerment, the inspirational potential of technology, and how that technology can enable a better world.

“We recognized there was an opportunity to tap into James Cameron’s storytelling and the culturally relevant themes to integrate our brand purpose with a natural and authentic campaign,” Brynn said.

Brynn says their partnership with 20th Century Fox was an opportunity to reset the way young engineers engaged and interacted with the TE Connectivity brand.

It worked so well because our agency and brand team respected James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s story and visuals and what they were trying to accomplish with the movie. Brynn Zech
“TE is a global BtoB industrial technology brand with 75 years of history in sensors and connectors. We historically compete on product proof points, which has become highly saturated in our category,” Brynn said.

Brynn and her team saw the campaign as a chance to go against traditional BtoB brand practices and break through the monotony of product ads to drive brand awareness and spark genuine dialogue that resonates with TE’s engineering audiences.

Originally, the idea was somewhat uncomfortable for TE.

“You don’t see many BtoB brands partnering with movie studios and the entertainment space,” she said. “But we knew we had to do something to break category conventions.”

The campaign was primarily driven and owned by TE’s brand marketing team, with social media being its main distribution channels.

Brynn said it was anchored by videos featuring the Alita: Battle Angel filmmakers that lived on their YouTube page, social pages, and landing page on TE’s website.

But the marketing teams also held employee engagement events, private movie screenings for employees — called Tech Talks — and even leveraged some of the assets for more product-focused advertising.

“We also integrated the campaign into industry trade shows,” Brynn said. “And extended it outside the U.S. since it was a global movie launch, on WeChat, LINE, TikTok, and out-of-home ads in Japan.”

The brand team worked with their agencies and partnered with Fox upfront to carve out TE’s brand positioning and campaign messaging.

The production quality and beautiful visuals of the creative definitely contributed to the high level of engagement and traffic to the site we saw. Brynn Zech
“It worked so well because our agency and brand team respected James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s story and visuals and what they were trying to accomplish with the movie,” Brynn said. “We found a way to integrate our objective and messaging in an authentic and meaningful way.”

Brynn and her team used the videos to produce creative that was optimized for website traffic, engagement, and contact conversion.

“Our objective was to elevate brand awareness, but we also needed to drive traffic to TE.com to convert new visitors and build our database,” she said.

To capture conversions and new contacts, they gated a lot of the content on TE’s website. “A lot of the videos we produced were behind-the-scenes clips and never-before-seen interviews with the producers, directors, and talent,” Brynn said.

They released some assets on social ahead of the movie with the call-to-action that followers could sign up to gain access to the gated content.

The team also launched a sweepstakes on social media in the U.S. and Asia.

We recognized there was an opportunity to tap into James Cameron’s storytelling and the culturally relevant themes to integrate our brand purpose with a natural and authentic campaign. Brynn Zech
The sweepstakes would ultimately send one person and a friend to Los Angeles for a private screening of Alita at Fox Studios with one of the producers, Jon Landau, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour — which helped generate engagement throughout the campaign.

“We retargeted visitors off our Alita campaign landing page to build and target an intent-based audience for the sweepstakes ads,” Brynn said. “And that exceeded our conversion goals.”

The campaign was timed in coordination with 20th Century Fox’s announcements schedule and Alita’s release date, which helped drive engagement.

“Our content and distribution was aligned with global organic conversations that were already happening around the movie on social,” Brynn said.

She explained the producers and director Robert Rodriguez helped amplify the videos by posting them out to their networks.

“And serendipitously, we launched our social employee advocacy program at the same time as the campaign,” Brynn said. “We were able to leverage our employee base for amplification to their personal networks.” The team also created personalized branded cover images for TE employees to use on their personal social accounts to show their pride for the campaign.

“The production quality and beautiful visuals of the creative definitely contributed to the high level of engagement and traffic to the site we saw,” she said.

Brynn said this campaign opened their eyes to the effectiveness of calculated risks.

“This exceeded the impact that we were shooting for with our younger engineers and customers,” she said. “But it also had a profound impact on our 80,000 global employees.”

She explained the campaign gave TE employees a renewed sense of pride for the company and their brand and an appreciation for the impact they make every day.

“Having true integration with our business unit marketers, regional marketing teams, communications team, and internal employee engagement team helped us make a case that this can really work. Not only for marketing and sales, but across the organization as well,” Brynn said.

For other brands looking to create similar entertainment partnership campaigns, Brynn emphasized the importance of taking risks.

According to Brynn, people originally might have said combining an industrial tech company with a global sci-fi movie wouldn’t make sense.

“But we put a lot of bright minds together between our teams, our agencies, and Fox, and built a close partnership upfront and maintained a strong working relationship,” she said. “That’s what made it so impactful and effective.”

“If it doesn’t perform fantastically or you don’t meet your objectives, then there’s always learnings you’ll walk away with that you can apply to the next risk you take and create success the next time,” she said.

Brynn Zech has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.