How AMD pivoted to virtual and hybrid with a series of record-setting broadcasts
A leader in high-performance computing, graphics, and visualization technologies, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) helps gamers build incredible experiences. The brand had been gearing up to wow its enthusiast fan base — consumers and businesses across the tech landscape — with three highly anticipated game-boosting products (and two keynotes, CES and Computex) when COVID hit.
Meeting and exceeding its audience’s expectations with the latest technology has always been priority number one, and 2020 was no different. Pre-pandemic, AMD was planning media events for the three product launches, engaging with the press and telling its captivating story on-stage with stunning visuals and lighting. AMD organically reached its audience through buzz from the press and also created stunning videos from the in-person events to share via YouTube.
AMD needed to make the virtual switch, but didn’t want its new products to get lost in the shutdown shuffle. It needed a dynamic announcement to live up to the excitement around the long-awaited products/releases and accelerate buzz.
Despite the pandemic, the brand’s 2020 campaign goal was to build on this much-anticipated product evolution with three key launches: the Ryzen 5000 series desktop processor, the Radeon 6000 series graphics cards, and the 3rd generation of the EPYC processors. Plans also included two keynotes over five separate events. The ultimate goal: create a unique experience for each release that tied the story together seamlessly across all events.
The pros at AMD are experts in creating engaging video content, but without an in-person audience the team needed a new approach to keep the live stage experience alive. The brand wanted attendees to feel like they were right there with AMD and feel the excitement no matter where they were watching.
AMD and Freeman already had the virtual and hybrid event ball rolling pre-COVID, which made the quick shift a little easier. With that head start, the team envisioned a pre-recorded, professional broadcast that would deliver virtual experiences worthy of the brand, its innovative next-gen products, creatively explosive content, and its tireless fans.
AMD’s audience knew the products were coming, so it capitalized on that anticipation by promoting the upcoming digital events on social media pages and on YouTube, the official launch platform. With 382,000 YT followers already, many saved the launch date and set reminders to watch the events.
Working together with AMD, we created an end-to-end production that included a unique studio build, visual branding, screen graphics, and cinematic filming to blow away traditional live event broadcasts. This higher-level approach would increase the virtual viewer experience, for both live and recorded content.
We brought this vision to life by transforming our event tech warehouse in Austin, AMD’s home base, into a customized, professional broadcast studio. The 38-foot soundstage impressed with a sweeping 180-degree LED volume concept back wall, paired with the same RED cinema cameras used in feature films for an authentically theatrical feel.
The RED camera videos were formatted into a unique workflow that allowed for live color grading — this significantly shortened the post production work timeline and also set up the system to support live and in-person events in the future. A custom remote-controlled camera dolly was designed and built to allow a camera position closer to the presenter without an operator. While remote systems exist in the market, they do not fit standard dolly tracks, so this design was a first.
The immersive and dynamic broadcast showcased the speakers, the story, and the products and ultimately delivered an awe-inspiring digital experience. This approach helped elevate the AMD brand when other brands were weighed down from virtual fatigue.
Each broadcast event built on the last — not only evolving the content and messaging for the specific product or keynote, but with new impactful graphics and brand presence. And its messaging hit each event’s audience while connecting to the broader campaign “Where the Future Starts.”
During a time when companies struggled to maintain brand identity and virtual presentation formats defined the industry, AMD committed to a different model. And this digital broadcast shift paid off. Attendees at each event joined online with much anticipation, waiting patiently as the clock ticked backwards to the next announcement.
The first product launch for the Ryzen 5000 series desktop processor topped AMD’s launch charts in early October 2020. Across AMD’s YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, the video exceeded previous day-of reported views by 150%, making it the most-viewed day-of launch video in AMD history. This kickoff launch was also pinned to the top of the U.S. homepage of Reddit on day one of the broadcast.
The second launch for the Radeon 6000 series graphics cards had similar results. What’s more, each launch was trending in YouTube’s overall Top 10 videos, one reaching the 6th most trending video across the entire YT platform (well beyond the gaming category).
The keynote at CES helped connect the messaging and keep the excitement alive. It garnered more than 550K views, a whopping 330% increase over CES 2020’s broadcast.
The third product launch for AMD’s EPYC Processors continued the ever-evolving product innovation that AMD is known for. At a time when virtual attention spans were limited, the brand managed to engage audiences with an average viewing duration of 9 minutes and 51 seconds!
The fifth event in the series highlighted all of the brand’s product accomplishments leading up to its new product roadmap with RDNA 2.
Beyond these outstanding results — which includes the addition of more than 100,000 YouTube followers to AMD — the brand was able to shift quickly and formulate a new campaign strategy to engage directly with all audiences.
A true testament to the power of storytelling through all senses, AMD’s five event campaigns reached their audiences in a way that they were craving. Media articles, social media, and the keynote events kept the buzz going from event to event.