USA TODAY Launches Inaugural Season of The City Podcast
2020 Finalist

USA TODAY Launches Inaugural Season of The City Podcast


McLean, United States

Category Brand Awareness Campaigns

Overview of this campaign

Our objectives:

  • Surface this podcast to a national audience while ensuring that we were considering the integrity of the reporting at the center of the story.
  • Immerse users in the story with innovative forms of storytelling, including audio and augmented reality.
  • Drive listens of podcast episodes.

In addition to the podcast content, we further immersed users in this story, by launching an experience in augmented reality that literally put people in the shoes of those impacted.  The experience took consumers to the illegal dump and let them discover how daily life was impacted by the rubble right from their phones.

Creatively, our marketing focused on the stories of the people being impacted by the illegal dump. The rubble that built up outside their homes, schools and businesses rose to six stories high. We chose to juxtapose this reality over an image of a man who grew up in that community and attended school across the street from this looming dump. The final campaign represented the overwhelming impact that the greed and criminality of local politicians had on the citizens who were unable to fight back.

To drive listens of the podcast, we chose to launch our creative on a mix of national and local media placements:

National Media:

  • Digital ads ran across the USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Print ads ran in USA TODAY
  • Emails were sent to ~1.6MM registered users
  • Organic and paid social posts ran across USA TODAY’s social platforms
  • Audio Ads ran on Spotify
  • Episode drops were promoted by other podcasts to tease our audio trailer. 

Chicago Media:

  • We swarmed Chicago during launch week, running digital out of home in key transit areas
  • We activated at the Chicago Marathon, engaging with ~1,000 runners at the Health and Fitness Expo.

Results for this campaign

At the end of our campaign, we drove the following results:

  • 1,100,000 downloads of our episodes.
  • Digital ads garnered 129MM impressions and a .27% click through rate.
  • Our paid Twitter campaign garnered 726,000 impressions and drove ~6,500 clicks to a custom site to listen to episodes and interact with our augmented reality content.
  • Apple used our creative to promote the podcast in their featured promotional space within the podcast app and as a new and notable podcast during launch week.

Media outlets across the country also covered the launch of the podcast and our use of augmented reality to help tell our story. Further, our investigative storytelling was heralded by industry leaders as some of the best audio content of the year.

  • Tune-in named us one of the top 5 binge-worthy podcasts of the year.
  • The New York Times named us one of the top five greatest podcast of the year.
  • Apple Named us one of the best podcasts of 2018.


To contact a company representative about this campaign, click here for the INMA Member Directory

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