Daily Insights

Digital Day of Remembrance

By: Mackenzie Baker | May 26, 2020

USAA and Snapchat united for a Memorial Day tribute. The financial services brand created its first augmented reality lens on the platform so users could dedicate a poppy flower to a fallen soldier. 

The small, red flower has been a traditional military remembrance symbol since World War I and inspired the Poppy Wall of Honor at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In the past, thousands of people would gather in the city to dedicate flowers for loved ones, but this year’s  Coronavirus pandemic prohibited the celebrations. In lieu of an in-person commemoration, USAA created a digital poppy wall lens on Snapchat, where users could virtually give thanks to those that served. Snapchat users can utilize the lens by pinning a poppy on their lapel through the front-facing camera or flip the camera to see a digital recreation of the poppy wall. Users can tap on a poppy to virtually dedicate a flower to a fallen loved one. 

As a company that serves military families and veterans, USAA is no stranger to patriotic observance campaigns. This year, however, marks the first time the company created an all-digital, multichannel push for the holiday. USAA created a corresponding website for people to pay respects to the nearly 700,000 Americans soldiers killed in battle, as well as a hashtag, #HonorThroughAction, for Instagram and Twitter. While the virtual campaign is an effect of the Coronavirus pandemic, its use of social media could help USAA reach younger audiences, particularly the majority Gen-Z users on Snapchat. As such, the lens might enhance USAA’s reputation while also driving awareness of the holiday in a way that resonates with young users, according to a Gartner report. The campaign also creates a chance for USAA to educate the public on the meaning of Memorial Day, as a recent study found 43% of Americans do not know the purpose of the holiday. 

Creating a reflective, purpose-driven experience on Snapchat allows the public to take part in the brand’s annual remembrance. By marketing on digital and social media, USAA could expand its reach as users spend more time on their phones during the Coronavirus pandemic and look for accessible ways to honor service members from home.