As we may, ahem, have pointed out, our recent Snapchat filter for Visa broke the internets, with the highest ever share rate at 22%, and Snapchat themselves calling it one of the best they had ever seen. 

We’ll be the first to admit that, out of all the social media channels we produce content and strategy for, Snapchat has been the least indulged, other than another quick-turnaround project for Visa in 2018 during the FIFA World Cup

Our clients typically raise the Snapchat question when they need a highly targeted, event-based campaign, so we’re naturally delighted that this latest Snapchat filter performed so well. 

But we should have known. 

Snapchat Recap

Despite all the fanfare for Instagram and Facebook stories, Snapchat is still pulling in 190 million daily active users. It’s a long way from toast. In fact, compared to some of the other platforms, it has some of the most engaged users out there. It’s just that they’re younger than the rest. 

When we say engaged, we mean relentlessly…

  • 80% of Snapchat users use the app at a restaurant
  • 66% of users use the app while shopping
  • 50% use the app at gyms
  • 49% at airports


So we should have suspected that our filter – geotargeting passengers in the departure lounges and duty free area of UK airports – would get some traction. 

Content is all about context

These passengers were in what retailers dub the ‘Golden Hour’, the time between clearing security checks and boarding. During this window, every passenger is bombarded with adverts, guided deliberately along winding pathways through duty free stores, and given little else to do apart from eat, drink, or shop. If you can wait patiently for your flight to board without making a single purchase, you’re an outlier. 

Visa’s Snapchat idea didn’t try to add to the maelstrom, however. The aim of the Visa overlay was to gently remind passengers that Visa is the easiest way to pay (even if you’re paying £5 for a coffee). And it tapped into the mood of adventure and excitement that friends and families feel when there’s a trip starting. 

The Visa Snapchat filter succeeded because it chimed with the mood (rather than trying to heave in a clunking, hamfisted promotion) in a way that was fun and engaging. It was genuine and relevant. Families and couples like to take selfies at the airport. The filter offered an authentic, visually pleasing way to enhance each picture. 

What next?

So we’ll continue to take a sympathetic look at Snapchat, learn what we don’t know, and carry on developing ideas that might work well on Snapchat but not be effective elsewhere. In a B2C or B2B context, that could mean…

  • Behind the scenes streaming
  • Launch event filters
  • Games
  • Influencer takeovers

Who’s nailing their marketing strategy on Snapchat?

Because it’s transient and fast-moving, Snapchat is ideal for building buzz and energy around contests, promos and coupons. Oreo is a standout example of a brand using Snapchat to engage consumers and enhance their experience. 

It’s not just about driving conversions. We love the way Visit Philly found a fresh, playful way to improve the experience of visitors touring the city’s main landmarks. We took the same approach with our Visa filter – adding a bit of value to the departure lounge experience. 

There are too many examples to pick out one here, but it’s vital to be authentic with your Snapchat content. Anything with a ‘behind the scenes’ feel to it will resonate better than the standard, polished online content. If you’re appealing to a specific fanbase, such as an event audience or movie franchise crowd, tap into their language and style. This isn’t the time to blunder in with your brand tagline but a great opportunity to tweak or subvert it. 

Top tips on designing a great filter

Deputy Creative Director Gavin Grissett, creator of the most shared Snapchat filter in UK history, shared his thoughts on what makes a good filter… 

“It’s all about context and relevance. Snapchat is based on sharing transient, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments. So the first key is to pick a moment, and understand it. Events or locations work best. You’re looking for something that either adds to, or helps express the emotions being experienced in that moment. 

Then make it personal – Snapchat lets you insert the name or location to keep things relevant. 

Finally, make it look tonally right for the audience. Keep your branding fairly subtle. And don’t crowd the photo – this is an embellishment, not the hero. Oh, and have fun with it.”