For Back to the Future Day (BTTF Day), a day more than 30 years in the making, USA TODAY had but one goal: shift brand perception from a brand trying to be a part of the conversation to a brand that was owning the conversation — organically.


To accomplish this we kicked off a comprehensive social listening plan in tandem with USA TODAY’s social team that allowed us to monitor the conversations surrounding USA TODAY and Back to the Future, and respond in real time with custom assets created and optimized specifically for the day.


We kicked everything off by doing a complete makeover of USA Today's social channels to match the 2015 logo from the movie.




To top it off, USA TODAY was gearing up to release the physical paper as seen in the movie on October 22, 2015  — the day after BTTF Day.

In order to ensure that this message wasn’t lost amongst all of the other chatter, on BTTF Day’s eve, USA TODAY secured a digital exclusive with Adweek to kickstart the festivities and make sure the announcement was heard throughout space and time.

By the time the east coast woke up on BTTF Day, everyone else had heard too.

Paper fade


Word quickly spread as #BacktotheFuture began to trend on Twitter. And much like USA TODAY’s futuristic website and social profile makeovers, we gave USA TODAY’s “Trends TODAY” program a bit of a makeover as well.


And shortly after we began posting that morning, the people of 2015 had spoken.



Meanwhile, while our assets were in play, we began creating a hub on Tumblr to collect some of the most fun, offbeat, and creative tie-ins for Back to the Future throughout the day. From memes and animations to side-by-side comparisons, Tumblr became one of the most popular places to get caught up on all things Back to the Future.  Back to the Future Day was a huge success, but for USA TODAY, it wasn’t overAs soon as October 22nd rolled around, the mad dash for the nearest newspaper stands began.



Once the news stands ran dry, USA TODAY took hold of the conversation and made sure that those who were unable to snag one at their local spot, could order one to be sent directly to them.



All in all, the day was a huge win for the brand. Without any paid media support, USA TODAY saw more than 69M+ impressions. More than 25,000+ mentions of USA TODAY and Back to the Future.

There were even some users who loved the fictional, futuristic logo so much, that they tried to rally USA TODAY to keep it. They didn’t, but as Doc Brown says, the future isn’t set. 2016 anyone?