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Instagram's First Global Stories Campaign Keeps the Heat on Snapchat

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In the first global campaign for its Stories platform, Facebook's Instagram app is celebrating the diversity of expression among its users by showcasing epic occasions next to more casual moments.

The campaign, which began in Philadelphia, Milan and Cologne on Monday, was created in partnership with Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam. It includes 15-second films, out-of-home installations and digital and mobile assets. Instagram works with Mindshare on media.

"We've been known as a place that highlights those special moments you want to remember, and then seven months ago we launched Instagram Stories and suddenly we saw a change in how 150 million people express themselves every day," said Taj Alavi, head of brand marketing at the Facebook-owned app. "We moved from highlights and the epic to silly, casual, funny moments and sides of people we'd never seen before on the platform."

Instagram created its Stories feature last summer as a way to counter its rival Snapchat, which has just over half the daily active users but is increasingly popular among 18- to 24-year-olds. The Stories feature on Instagram allows people, publishers and brands to create videos documenting their daily activities that disappear in 24 hours, just like Snapchat. (Facebook itself just added a Stories feature to its own app.)

Instagram in January showed off the first ads inside its Stories, taking up the screen and running between users' posts, similar to but longer than the ads on Snapchat Stories. Instagram Stories ads let video run for 15 seconds and sponsored photos linger for 5 seconds, though they are all instantly skippable. About 30 brands were part of the initial video ads tests, including Nike, Buick, Netflix, Airbnb and Capital One.

Bekah Sirrine, executive creative director at Instagram, said the new work was designed to "celebrate and inspire the global audience we're talking to," while making sure the executions were "short and sweet," just like its Stories posts.

Instagram intends to release 20 to 25 films by the end of the campaign. It declined to disclose the budget on the campaign.

"The ethos is to share the true joy in the community when people view and share Stories," said Ms. Alavi, adding that the Instagram lens can "immediately make a moment more fun and shareable."

In each of the three cities, Ms. Sirrine said the brand will try to localize its marketing efforts. For example, she said Philadelphia has interesting architecture, museums and subways that could lend themselves to cool installations.