Shocking demonstration of influencer marketing from Volkswagen UK

We’ve all heard of influencer marketing, right? You find out who the key influencers are within your target market and use them as a vehicle to get to the people you are aiming at. Great in theory, but not many companies are really doing it right (if they are attempting it at all!).

To begin with, you need to understand the difference between an influencer and a brand advocate, as was expertly described by Aaron Lee recently in his iStrategy blog post. Whilst I don’t agree with his overall point that the brand advocate is ‘always’ more valuable (I think that really depends on how you interact with them – as per the Volkswagen example I will discuss later), his infographic does illustrate how each could be used, and where the strengths are in building on these relationships:

Influencers versus AdvocatesIn my experience, the real difference lies in how you choose to engage them. Writing a piece on how great your company or your product is and then farming out to the influencer – no matter how relevant their audience is – is not the best way to execute what could be a very valuable ongoing relationship. You need to work with them, understand their motivations and plans for the future. In the case of bloggers, what are their future plans for content and growth? What are they motivated by? Is it about volume of content, or about the quality and relevance? Just how influential are they really – are they interacting with their audience and really helping to steer people towards a solution?

In most cases influencers will be crying out for help with regards creating brilliant and relevant content – it’s not an easy thing to generate on a regular basis – and if you take the time to understand them and find out how you could fit in with their plans in a mutually beneficial way, you will end up with a much more effective influencer marketing strategy.

Having said all that, Volkswagen have just done something completely different with an influencer, but which I also think is great…… 🙂

In the UK it seems that around 500k  people have accidents every year due to applying make-up whilst driving. Yes. It’s true – there are that many people desperate enough to top up their foundation and lipstick that they will do so whilst driving and therefore put themselves and others lives at risk! As part of their social responsibility charter (and no doubt secondary brand message around their own vehicle safety levels!) Volkswagen looked to where people who are most interested in make-up tips go – YouTube.

Working with NikkiTutorials, a young woman who has been offering video make-up tips for several years and has built up quite a following,  they filmed this great video which really brings the message home:

This is going to hit people who would not actively select a ‘warning video’ – arguably, just the people they needed to get the message to. Creating a video for their own YouTube channel just could not have done this.

Now, with my ‘Global Marketing’ hat on – think about how you could roll this type of strategy out internationally? Not an easy task!

Webby Website Winners 2011 Review

The 15th Annual International Webby Awards took place last Monday (13th) in New York. Here is a full (stupidly-long!) list of all the winners in the ‘website’ section, with some of my favourites pulled out. Warning – you may need to get yourself a cuppa before starting to read this! It’s always good to see examples of best practice though, even if you don’t always agree that they should have been in the list in the first place, so it’s worth taking some time to browse through.


  • Activism Redu – Creative Artists Agency

Subject matter aside – I prefered the Conservation International – Save a Mile website to Redu. Although, the International Rescue Committee (also nominated) seems to be doing the best job at using their homepage for strong calls-to-action which do not get lost in too much ‘noise’ (as is the case on most of the others!).

The idea of a digital museum which people can ‘visit’ and is kept alive and fresh with changing exhibitions, is a great one. Not sure that there is enough opportunity for ‘exploring’ available in this to help enhance the experience, but great nonetheless.

I really LOVE this campaign website by Subaru, so great to see that they have beaten Mercedes in this category! They built an entire, fun and engaging website around a ‘boring’ car, complete with lots of beige and brown, a build your own (boring) car tool, great videos, games and even a fake mission statement. Each page subtly offers you the opportunity to click to something ‘more interesting’ which leads you to the all-singing all-dancing Subaru website. A stark contrast to what you have just come from, making the Subaru brand offering seem all the more exciting.

The rapidly changing background of the Lego homepage gives the user a great introduction to the various products and characters, whilst keeping true to the brand values.

  • Best Navigation/Structure Hidden Heroes – Grimm Gallun Holtappels Werbeagentur GmbH & Co. KG
  • Best Practices Dropbox – Dropbox
  • Best use of animation or motion graphics Monet 2010 – Lets 84 and faberNovel

I touched on this whilst looking at the nominations when they were announced – Monet 2010 is a great website which is beautifully put together and gives a unique and innovative view of the work of the artist.

Another strong contender for this category was The Room by Armani, which features interactive video of either Christiano Ronaldo or Megan Fox (wearing not very much!). You can share snapshots from the video at any point with your social networks, and at the end you have the chance to click around the hotel room to discover more images, featured product info and competitions.

  • Best Visual Design – Function – TED
  • Blog – Business TechCrunch – AOL
  • Blog – Cultural The 99% – Behance
  • Blog – Political Truthdig – Truthdig
  • Celebrity/Fan Team Coco – Team Coco Digital
  • Charitable Organisations/Non-Profit Historypin – We Are What We Do

This is such a fantastic idea, and nicely executed too.

Strange to see OpenIDEO and Twitter in the same category, when they seem like totally different propositions to me?

The content on Nowness is wonderful, but I’m still a big fan of The Cool Hunter or Fubiz  (which is perhaps a bit more ‘art’) when it comes to keeping up with the latest trends. They were not even nominated!

The battle for bricks just got bigger…

A well deserved win, although to be fair they were already on to a winner having both Lego AND Star Wars to work with!

The brief for this website was to create something which would get the message across to French youth about their manipulation by tobacco companies. Recognising that France is the second largest market for Manga after Japan, they used a legend from this industry to create an amazing interactive experience. This has to be the most unusual anti-smoking message/campaign I have ever seen, but also the most beautiful and inspiring.

My favourite in this category, like the eventual winner, does not seem like a promo for an international film which would show in cinema and then eventually move onto DVD, but rather something which was made specifically for the digital medium – 127 Defining Moments enables you to watch and explore some spectacular and inspiring stories which have been submitted by others and put together in a beautiful interactive website.

I much preferred the Sounds of Pertussis website, which focuses on a fatal illness otherwise known as Whooping Cough in a bid to get more children vaccinated in the US. Great use of video and real life stories in order to create an impact, as well as being informative and easy to navigate.

It has to be said that I am not the biggest fan of Vimeo in the World, but I was genuinely quite sad that 1000memories didn’t win this category rather than one of the ‘bigger boys’, purely because I think it is such a lovely concept. Sharing memories, photographs, stories and video of a lost loved one in an online community space is something which people have been doing for years via Facebook anyway, but this tool makes it easier and much, much better!

LG Optimus have used an innovative way to share the best points of their phones, and show how they can help you with your day-to-day life.

Mobile Movement was the clear winner for me in this category, with their fresh approach to helping communities in less-developed parts of the World using mobile phones and community advice/feedback/donations/encouragement.

Phew! (takes a big breath). Right – got through that lot, now for a look at the other sections in the Webby Awards, including interactive advertising and mobile…….but not now! I think I’ll save those for another post!

Please share your thoughts on the various winners and losers – anyone not nominated who you think should have been included?

Nike prioritise Facebook for their latest global campaign

Hats off to Nike for their latest global campaign – Chosen, which recently premiered on Facebook 3 days before TV (says a lot about the shift in priority). Not only do they demonstrate what you can really do with big video budgets – the result is GREAT! – they’ve also shown how to plan ahead effectively in order to get the best out of the content.

Their decision to target certain hard-core ‘extreme’ sports fans, who obviously live and breathe skateboarding/surfing/BMX/snowboarding and couldn’t care less about whats going on with any other sport, meant that they really had to target the content. Although the main ad (below) is a teaser for all sports combined, each area has its own dedicated video and behind-the-scenes video.  A great example of forward thinking and getting the most out of film crews, sets and stars (in this case, people who are awesome at each sport).

The long running competition takes in two seasons – summer and winter – to accommodate the various sports (not gonna get much ski action in the summer!), and calls for ‘crews’ to upload a video of themselves showing ‘their stuff’, in order to win a chance to ‘live like a pro’. Using the platform for what it does best, people can then share and vote for their favourite submissions.

Each prize is targeted to ensure that the take-up will be strong – and I’m sure it will! To be honest, watching some of the example video’s kinda makes me wish I had a crew of my own and the ability to stay on a surfboard for more that a nanosecond!

It’s interesting that the applicants need to select music from a pre-determined list of tracks rather than choose their own? Whether this has anything to do with pre-arranged ‘deals’ or strong brand guidelines, I’m not sure. Still, there are some quite good tunes to select from (in my opinion obviously).

So, to sum up, what’s great about this campaign?:

  • Amazing targeting of content
  • Forward thinking during production stage to get the most out of every content opportunity
  • Separate Facebook pages for each sport area, and in some case country specific ones too
  • Really strong and consistent branding throughout
  • Strong viral element – using Facebook simply (no fancy gadgetry), but for what it does best

This weeks digital campaign chatter #7

Here is my round-up of the most talked about digital campaigns from the past week.

1.GranataPet – Snack Check

This clever little integrated campaign by German pet food company, GranataPet, has created quite a buzz over the past week, mainly down to its ingenious use of Foursquare.

An ‘interactive’ billboard was placed near a high-dog-walking-traffic area, encouraging passers-by to ‘check in and snack out!’. By checking in via Foursquare to the billboard location, a remote server is notified and the billboard will dispense some dog food. They are hoping that the dogs will remember what happened and encourage their owners to visit the billboard again aka Pavlov’s dogs. WODM (word of dog mouth) perhaps?….(sorry, I’ll get my coat…)

Much more of a brand-awareness campaign than anything else, although according to GranataPet they did achieve a higher interest in the product in local stores.

It’s early days, and hopefully they are planning to benefit more from all the hype they have generated and roll out the campaign more online. As yet there isn’t much more to see – apart from a fairly modest Facebook presence (with only just over 600 fans and no sign of innovation at all!) and a website which is basic and uninspiring – and doesn’t showcase the billboard campaign anywhere!

Still, great to see another example of innovative use of billboards as part of an integrated campaign. I foresee much more of this in the future.

2. AMREF – Status of Africa 2011

I handed over my Facebook status updates to a stranger this week. Like many others I was impressed with the approach AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation) has taken with their latest campaign ‘Status of Africa’, and signed up for their Facebook app which allows them to take over 2 of your status updates per day for 5 days and hand them over to one of their participating African mothers, grandmothers or midwives. This ties in with Mothers Day in the UK on 3rd April, with the main aim to highlight the differences in our societies and opportunities, in particular for women and children. They are running a similar thing on Twitter too.

According to their website:

It’s these women who are the beating hearts of their communities, providing strength for their families through the highs, lows, frustrations and joys. However, their voices are rarely heard, so with this simple gesture of lending their status, users can provide them with a mouthpiece to tell people what it’s really like to be a mother in Africa.

Whilst I guess only a charitable cause such as this could get away with such a bold campaign choice, and actually have people sign up and take part, I think it is a really great example of how to use social networking in order to quickly spread your message. No doubt my friends will be intrigued when my status is updated by an African midwife and I think will be more inclined to click-through than if I had simply ‘shared’ something from the AMREF wall.

This is actually the second time they have run this campaign so it must have had positive feedback and met some of their expectations and objectives last year (couldn’t find any actual stats on how successful it was however).

It’s a shame that a couple of elements were not working when I checked – the ability to change your profile picture to that of your selected African spokesperson, and the ‘invite your friends to take part’ function – however, they will hopefully sort things out quickly and build on the current disappointingly low number of fans they have to their main Facebook page. Some things just deserve to do well….

3. Carlsberg – Unbottle yourself

Personally, I had no idea that people from Sweden needed more help than anyone else in the World to ‘let themselves go’! However, according to Carlsberg, they are the most ‘reserved’ nation in the World and therefore need their help to ‘Unbottle themselves’.

This help comes in the form of a campaign website and mobile app which have 500 challenges, such as:

  • Pretend to be a tour guide on a bus
  • Speak with a French accent to the next person who calls you on the phone
  • Approach tourists and claim to be a famous Swede

You get the general idea…..

Each mission will give you points when completed – you can either self-approve or upload a picture or video for automatic approval (not sure how this works?). ‘Gold’ challenges will give you daily rewards such as ipads and phones. You can also challenge your friends via social networks to take part in particular missions.

The 10 people with the most points at the end of the competition will be given a place in the final, from which the winner will be given 2 ‘golden’ tickets to the ‘party of their lives’ in Hong Kong.

Nice idea (although the ‘policing’ of it must be a nightmare!), and the campaign site offers lots of amusing video examples to help get you inspired. No obvious homepage push from the main Swedish website, which is a shame. However, there are Facebook and Twitter tie-ins.

Just incase you are interested – you can take part if you are not a Swede….you just won’t win anything!

4. Skittles – Touch:Cat

This speaks for itself I think….

How disturbing?????!!!!!!!!! (sorry to put you through that, hope you don’t feel too violated!). You can view the full range of ‘Touch’ campaign video’s on YouTube.

Top 100 Social Brands revealed

The list of the top 100 social brands was released this morning. A couple of surprises in the Top 10 – including GiffGaff (who I have never heard of!), Best Buy UK & Blendtec

The top 20:

  1. Dell
  2. Nike Plus
  3. Starbucks
  4. giffgaff
  5. Best Buy UK
  6. Zappos
  7. Innocent
  8. Groupon UK
  9. Blendtec
  10. Converse
  11. Pampers
  12. BBC Radio 1
  13. BBC
  14. ASOS
  15. AVG
  16. Child’s i Foundation
  17. Nokia
  18. Moo
  19. Old Spice
  20. Sony Playstation

For a full list of the 100, and a great review of the survey, check out this article on The Wall.

This weeks digital campaign chatter #3

There were lots to choose from this week, but here are my pick of the most talked about digital marketing campaigns from the past 7 days.

(disclaimer – that doesn’t mean that I think they are the BEST campaigns, just that you will find them interesting!)

As always, if you want to receive a regular email of my weekly round-up, just subscribe to this blog (bottom of page) and join the gang!

1. BT – the 2nd biggest wedding of the year

Although this campaign idea is very cheesy, it has been executed nicely, the concept being that the long-running characters from BT’s TV ads – Adam & Jane – are getting married. Thanks to the early arrival of their baby, it seems that Jane needs some help with the organisation of the ‘big day’. Crowdsourcing? Well, kind of…..

Using their Facebook page as the main campaign platform, and some nicely produced videos, you can vote for your favourite dress, first dance song choice, or wedding car.

By taking part in the voting, the user could also win the chance to be there for the creation of the ‘wedding’ ad, due to be screened in April to coincide with…you guessed it….the Royals getting hitched. Riding on the back of the nations predicted wedding fever it seems!

It’s not the first time that BT have asked for the publics opinions on how this couples lives should develop – last year saw them use a similar campaign to decide if Jane should get pregnant or not. Both are good examples of integrated marketing across both online and offline platforms.

I still prefer the Gold Blend couple personally, but maybe that’s just an age thing!

2. Cadburys – Race Season

Cadbury’s latest campaign – Race Season – launched on 29th Feb, with a whopping overall investment of £6.5 million.

The integrated campaign includes TV and community events as well as digital, and encourages users to take part in everyday challenges in order to try to set new world records for how fast you can do them, as well as earn extra points for your team. Un-rolling a toilet roll, or making a bed are amongst the handful of fun tasks you can take part in. You can upload videos of your own attempts, and for certain challenges, such as ‘the fastest clicker’ actually take part in them online.

As part of their larger ‘Spots v Stripes’ initiative which kicked off early 2010, participants are asked to take sides before embarking on their challenge, and there are even separate Facebook groups set up for both teams to really get the competitive juices flowing!

The main site homepage displays which team is in the lead at any given time, giving you all sorts of opportunities and ways of pushing your team back in front should you have backed the losing side. Also cleverly enticing you to access the campaign more and more in order to make sure that you stay on top!

They obviously have the budget to put some serious online promotion behind the campaign, which was developed by Fallon, as well as pushing it via their TV ad spots. Great idea and execution though, and ties in really well with the run up to the London Olympics.

3. Coca-Cola – song inspired by fans

In an attempt to get more in touch with teen consumers and hit their 2020 company vision of more than doubling their revenue to $200 billion globally, Coca-Cola have hooked up with  Maroon5 to create a campaign which will see users help the band to write and create a new song within a 24hr period on March 22nd.

Whilst driven by the main microsite, the campaign also has very strong links with both Facebook and Twitter, starting by sending event invitations out to their 22million plus Facebook fans –  a really obvious and simple thing to do, but something which is often forgotten about.

Participants will be able to help inspire the band during the day, by sending them photos, lyrics, comments etc., resulting in a song which will later be ‘shared with the World’.

This campaign spearheads the new music initiative – Coca-Cola Music – again, aimed at the teen market, which will allow fans to see more behind-the-scenes info on the creation of music, as well as access to view leading artists at work.

4. Nursery  & Garden Industry of Australia – Plant/Life Balance

This is a great campaign for the Nursery & Garden Industry of Australia, which began with them giving away 20,000 plants at major train stations across the country to kick things off, and has been getting lots of thumbs up from digital marketing bods around the World over the past couple of weeks.

The nicely designed Facebook app lets you match yourself with the perfect plant for you, teaches you  how to take care of it in a fun and engaging way, and encourages you via competitions, content and interaction to take part in a 12-week challenge. Your plant will even get its own Facebook page! Love it.

Toyota crowdsourcing ideas for good

(Yet another post on a car brand…this in turning into a trend!)

It’s no secret, given all the trouble they had with the Prius last year, that Toyota needed to do some serious work on their PR and branding, and I think their Ideas For Good campaign is a great start.

The technologies which go into developing their cars far surpass other industries. In the past they have shared these ideas and innovations with others, including universities and hospitals, but via this campaign they are now asking the public for ideas on how their technology could be used ‘for good’.

From November 2010 when the campaign was initially launched, people could upload their ideas via a simple but nicely designed microsite, in the hope of winning the prize of working with Toyota to develop their idea further….oh, and choosing one of Toyota’s cars for themselves too!

Submissions are now closed, but you can still show your support by voting on your favourite idea. Finalists will be announced on the 10th April and people will be asked to vote on which they prefer up until the end of the month. The winner will then be announced on the 6th May.

I really love the idea behind this campaign, and the fact that it has given Toyota a chance to showcase how their innovations have helped others and their involvement with the wider community, so I’m a little surprised that they have not done a better job at promotion. There are hardly any votes on the ideas, which in my view is a sure sign of poor marketing around the campaign. There is also no mention of it on Facebook. Could be because the submission date has passed, but surely whilst still in the period of voting on finalists, now should be the time they are pushing this more than ever?

On a positive note, I do quite like the ‘Auto-Biographies’ which they DO have on their Facebook page, which allows people to upload their car stories, and in some cases have them animated. They are also due to launch a campaign on the 7th March which will give 100 cars to 100 do-gooders over 100 days, again voted for by the public. Another great crowdsourcing idea, lets hope that they do a better job of promoting it!