The idea for Whatnot’s new livestreamed marketing campaign is simple: There’s something cool in a glass box, and outside that glass box is a giant swinging hammer. Every time a new viewer joins the stream, the hammer moves just a little closer to the box.
If enough people tune in, the box gets cracked open—and one of the viewers wins what’s inside.
Whatnot—which was founded in 2019 by former YouTube product marketing manager Grant LaFontaine—describes itself as a “community marketplace where you can buy, sell, go live, and geek out with collectors and other like-minded people.”
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So far, it’s raised over $220 million to fuel a platform that’s smack in the middle of the growing live shopping craze. It urges sellers to “go live” and drum up interest in their wares (which span numerous niches from trading cards to toys and video games to vintage jewelry) by acting like a kind of digital auctioneer working a crowd of potential buyers.
The point of Whatnot’s campaign—called Break the Bank and produced by Portal A—was to get fresh eyeballs on its live ecommerce capabilities.
So…did it work?
Break the Bank ran for six days, from April 26 to May 1, giving away increasingly larger prizes until, on the final day, one viewer won 250 packs of Pokémon trading cards.
The campaign streamed at the same time for each of those six days, and every day, it went live with a set of goals. Once a goal was met—like, for example, reaching 5,000 live viewers—a new prize was unlocked. The more viewers joined, the more prizes were put in the pool.
To promote Break the Bank, Whatnot worked with 20 content creators: Zack Lugo, ThePokeJew, IslandGrown, SuperDuperDani, Alex Hodges, JessPlaysPokemon, PokeDexter, GoingTwice, Forevercollector, Finatic, TJ Williams, DonDiegoTrading, PokemonRadar, TeddyCollects, Shivam Patel, IamRyzn, Simplyunlucky, Bug Catcher Cards, Cassius Marsh, and Blake Martinez.
Creators collectively made 127 posts about Break the Bank that, as of May 2, generated 246,000 views and 51,000 unique likes, comments, and shares, Whatnot says.
Break the Bank ultimately saw Whatnot give away a total of $400,000 worth of Pokémon prizes, including a PSA 10-graded Crystal Charizard (one is listed for $75k on eBay right now, to give you an idea of value) and a PSA 10 (one sold for $150k in 2021).
The total number of viewers it attracted to crack open those six glass boxes? 89,270.
And some of those viewers ended up sticking around. Whatnot says more than 17,000 of those viewers converted to signed-up users on its site.
“This activation cemented our confidence in our loyal community of passionate hobbyists,” John Walters, Whatnot’s head of special projects, tells Tubefilter. “Our audience is so dedicated, and we saw more and more people join their friends and engage via chat during the livestream, with every challenge being met each day.”
Walters adds that Whatnot is “excited about what’s in store,” and says the platform is “looking forward to creating more unifying experiences like this in the future.”