Back Market made an impression with its “hacking” of Apple stores on April 22, World Earth Day. “It’s time to go refurbished, with a cheaper and greener model.” This is the kind of message received by customers on the store’s new Iphones. The video of this punch operation has reached more than 36 million cumulative views on the various social networks.
How did Back Market pull off this media stunt? Although impressive, this operation is relatively simple to implement. It is based on a legal and public system. “It’s not a real ‘hacking’. We used technology embedded in all iPhones, ”says Vianney Vauteco-founder of Back Market.
A bot positioned in front of targeted stores in Paris, London and Berlin, dispatched Airdrop requests to iPhones. This feature allows information to be exchanged remotely between two telephones within a maximum radius of 15 meters. Since 2020, Android phones have a similar feature called Nearby Share.
Back Market “hacks” iPhones in stores
A meticulously prepared operation
A merchant could very well take inspiration from this “hack” to attract passers-by to his store by offering them discounts, for example. This device can therefore be adapted on a smaller scale and with a lower budget. “This campaign is completely replicable,” confirms Sébastien Jauffret, associate director of the Marcel advertising agency. This subsidiary of the Publicis group carried out the operation for a budget of “several tens of thousands of euros”.
“But it’s the kind of operation without a net. If it is not well enough prepared, there is a good chance that it will turn against you, ”warns the advertiser, however. But if the message reaches its target, then it is a real lever of notoriety and growth, and the buzz guaranteed on social networks.
For Back Market, it was a question of communicating on the environmental virtues of refurbished goods, via viral videos. The objective of this campaign was to enter into collusion with the consumer and to present him with an alternative which he had not necessarily thought of. “The approach must appear natural, spontaneous and the message must be simple. This kind of offbeat idea can only work if there is a minimum of filter between the idea and the realization”, advises Vianney Vaute.
To reinforce its point and avoid the greenwashing trial, Back Market waited for the publication of the ADEME report on refurbished goods. The latter indicates, for example, that the acquisition of a refurbished mobile phone reduces the environmental impact of 91% to 55% compared to a new device. “It is always difficult to talk about ecology in communication. We have to concrete with official figures, ”adds the advertiser Sébastien Jauffret.
Raising consumer awareness
Back Market had been waiting for these indisputable data for two years to launch such a bold marketing operation. It also needed a strong international context, because the company is now present in 16 countries, now employs 650 people and will achieve the majority of its business volume abroad in 2022. “Our center of gravity has shifted and this campaign is also a way of getting people talking about us internationally,” says Vianney Vaute.
The “hacking” operation therefore took place simultaneously in Paris, London and Berlin, with the help of the advertising agency Marcel, “The most complicated thing for us was to synchronize the recordings in the three cities”, analyzes Vianney Worth. The scenes were filmed from outside the shops to avoid any prosecution. The indoor shots were taken by influencers commissioned for the occasion, one for each country. “Our goal was to stay within the framework of the law,” explains Vianney Vaute.
Apple did not react, proof that the legal risk has been circumscribed by the Back Market teams. It should however be noted that the French leader in reconditioned is not a competitor of the American giant. “Apple earns more and more money through its services: refurbished is also a way for them to win new customers,” judges the co-founder of the unicorn.