Millennials; they are the most populous generation in history, they spend practically all their digital life on social media and there’s not a chance of them clicking on a sponsored ad. It’s no wonder brands are turning to influencers to help sell their products and services.
Influencer marketing has really taken off because of a perfect storm in which consumer trust in brands has plummeted, while trust in influencers has soared. And, according to Mediakix, influencer marketing is expected to become a $5-10 billion market within the next five years.
Of course, the notion of brands using celebrities in their ad campaigns is nothing new but the rise of social media has paved the way for creating more engaging and personal experiences, rather than just a simple celebrity endorsement of a product. And not forgetting the new breed of “celebrity” in the shape of what we now know as influencers in their own right – those with loyal, engaged followings on social media that present too good an opportunity for brands to pass up.
When we talk about influencers, there are two groups to consider: celebrities and macro influencers (the David Beckhams and Kylie Jenners of the world) who have broad and diverse audiences of millions of followers, while on the other hand there are the influencers and micro influencers (industry experts, bloggers/vloggers and niche-market personalities) with smaller yet loyal followings, often specific to a niche. Either way, each group has its own benefits and, for brands, can have a significant impact on marketing.
Delving into the entries in the ‘Best Influencer Campaign’ category from this year’s Festival of Media Global Awards threw up some compelling finds. Fifty percent of the entries came from the food & beverage and FMCG sectors, while the rest of the shortlist was made up of finance/insurance, travel, oil and automotive. Interestingly, the primary objective for 80% of brands on the shortlist was not to increase sales but rather build value, brand perception and reputation, and boost brand awareness.
Ranging from fashion to music, sports and beyond, the trick to influencer engagement is not only to make it culturally relevant and tailored to the specific audience but to bring it together in a way that is interesting and engaging – essentially making the target market a stakeholder in the campaign’s success.
“What it really drove home was just how very different audiences are around the world,” said Jack Dyson, Senior Director, Global Head of Content Strategy, SAP Hybris. “From the way influencers are used and the types of persona addressed right down to the levels of engagement a marketer might rely on. That was invaluable. It’s so easy to lose sight of the very different demographics from region to region – plus the penetration of different social channels.”
There were several recurring factors at play: all 10 entries that made it onto the shortlist had a video element – whether a reality TV format, music video/partnership or animated video, suggesting not only that creating a personal connection with the influencer but creating engaging long-form content has a key role in helping to build brand love.
Speaking at an industry event earlier this year, Florian Alt, vice-president of global brand communications at Adidas Football, said: “Bring it across in a way that is interesting and resonates with them, and makes them almost feel part of it. If you give them the tools to direct where the story goes next or ask them what they are interested in seeing as the next episode, that’s the kind of stuff where you can go really deep with engagement and ultimately drive brand love.”
We put the spotlight on two FOMG Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:
Is it okay for guys? | Lynx (Axe) | PHD | UK
Shortlisted for: Best Influencer Campaign (GOLD WINNER), Best Use of Data & Insight Award, Best Local Execution of a Global Brand
Whilst analysing the top questions British men type into search engines, Lynx discovered just how far-reaching the contemporary insecurities of young men were and how much influence the phenomenon of ‘toxic masculinity’ seemed to be having. These data insights not only informed the media strategy for the campaign, it actually changed the advertising content, creating a bespoke media-led influencer strategy that was inspired entirely from search data.
Now, when men resorted to Google for help, Lynx would be there to help answer their most commonly asked ‘Is it ok for guys…?’ questions. But how could it deliver authentic answers to these questions and avoid looking like just another brand attaching itself to a purpose-led cause? The answer lay in WHO answered the questions.
It answered the questions through a series of videos featuring men who embodied what modern masculinity is. These included key YouTube influencers and British Lynx ambassadors such as actor Will Poulter and World Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua, who addressed questions like ‘Is it OK for guys to drink soy milk?’, ‘Is it OK for guys to do yoga?’ and ‘Is it OK for guys to get nervous around women?’ These influencer videos were distributed through paid activity on YouTube.
In Romania, Winter is NOT Coming | KFC | UM | Romania
Shortlisted for: Best Influencer Campaign (BRONZE WINNER)
KFC’s Krushers Mocktails is the preferred summer drink of Romanian teens. In a country where the temperature can hover near 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July or August, it’s the perfect beverage to chill down those dog days of summer. However, when summer draws to a close, a wave of sadness crashes over teens. Not only are their beloved Krushers Mocktails pulled off the menu, but teens are forced to leave the sunny outdoors to the refuge of their homes and, most crucially, the internet.
In Romania, winter season doesn’t officially begin until its star singer Paul Ciprian Surugiu, more affectionately known as ‘Fuego’, says so, through his notable song, “Mother, Decorate the Christmas Tree”. This artist, famous in Romania for his romantic songs, over time became an internet sensation. He’s acknowledged in interviews that during his live music tours he can’t escape audience’s demand for his famed Christmas song, already more than 10 years old in Romania.
While Fuego is certainly beloved by the older generation, teens have elevated him to cult status. He is the country’s most memed person and artist: famous to parents and ironically “internet-famous” among teens. In a desperate attempt to prolong summer, KFC needed teens to prevent Fuego from singing his signature song. After all, if Fuego doesn’t sing, winter hasn’t yet come and Krushers Mocktails will remain on KFC’s menu. In September, UM introduced the “Winter is NOT Coming!” digital campaign to extend summer by partnering with Fuego and inviting teens to distract him from decorating the Christmas tree by assigning him tasks through a dedicated website.