Snapchat’s Everest Live Story showed climbing production quality of app’s TV-like format

Snapchat’s Everest Live Story used pre-recorded footage that the company’s curation team polished in production.

Snapchat’s Live Stories — curated collections of photos and videos people post around a live event — are more like YouTube than TV. But like YouTube, the mobile app’s programming is starting to resemble the polish of TV, by increasingly incorporating pre-recorded footage and applying post-production treatment.

Earlier this month, Snapchat ran a Live Story documenting climbers attempting to summit Mount Everest and succeeding. But unlike the typical Live Story, the Everest Live Story wasn’t produced off-the-cuff with an entirely user-generated feel. Technically, it wasn’t even live.

Snapchat’s Everest Live Story incorporated photos and videos that climbers like Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards had posted to Snapchat weeks before the Live Story ran. While there would seem to be good reason the Everest Live Story wasn’t live — cell reception at the top of the world isn’t exactly great — Ballinger and Richards actually carried their own WiFi supplies with them to post to their EverestNoFilter account during their summit attempt, according to a spokesperson for the climbers. So that wasn’t the reason Snapchat delayed the airing of the Live Story.

Instead, the Everest Live Story appears to be part of a trend in which Snapchat is incorporating more pre-recorded content into its Live Stories. In January, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Snapchat interspersed archival clips of Dr. King in a Live Story honoring the civil rights leader. Then it incorporated old NBA footage for its Live Story documenting Kobe Bryant’s final game in April. And in May, the Day in Space Live Story that Snapchat aired was entirely pre-produced, as was the Everest one.

The use of pre-produced content shows how Snapchat is upping the production quality of its Live Stories. Traditionally Snapchat’s curation team has been charged with picking out the best user snaps to include in a relevant Live Story. But in the case of the Everest Live Story, that team had a hand in adding some more polish to the programming. Its members took the regular snaps uploaded by the climbers and overlaid them with text that amended information like facts about how cold and windy it can get on the mountain. They also added illustrations plotting the path to Everest’s summit or the elevations of different camps along the way.

Snapchat’s curation team added overlays to the climbers’ photos and videos.

Even the Coors Light ads that ran within the Everest Live Story appeared to be more polished than those in a typical Live Story that may not have all that much to do with the event being documented. Snapchat had already made the decision to produce an Everest Live Story before Coors Light came on board, according to a Snapchat spokesperson. But that doesn’t mean the brand and its creative agency, 72andSunny, were necessarily rushed in putting together the campaign. The agency was briefed on the campaign in late April, more than a month before the Live Story went live.

Instead of hastily cutting vertical versions of the beer brand’s TV commercials, 72andSunny came up with a series of ads tailored specifically to the Everest Live Story. The ads showed a group of climbers at different stages of making it up a snowy mountain. At first it was hard to tell whether the ads were part of the Live Story — at least until a thought bubble animated over one showing a Coors Light can in one of the ads. In another, two climbers sat in a tent that resembled a windblown one shown elsewhere in the Live Story, but in this tent the climbers opened a beer can, and then the tagline, “Every climb deserves a refreshing finish,” appeared.

“Snapchat’s platform is the most natural and organic place to experience content, so any brand placements need to be genuine, real, and not forced. We couldn’t just take our TV ads and run them without interrupting a viewer’s experience,” said Jason Norcross, partner and executive creative director at 72andSunny’s Los Angeles office.

About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.