Pet influencers like wolf dog Loki have been used to take automotive ad campaigns to a new level
Automakers are increasingly including influencers in their marketing strategies to reach current and new customers. With social media becoming a key component of automotive marketing, top brands are turning to sites like Instagram and Facebook to reach their core demographic.
However, today, influencing is no longer reserved for the ultra-rich and famous. Smartphones and web access have the masses joining in.
Sanjay Vasudeva of BuzzOne says influencer marketing helps boost brand growth. While indicating that there are different ways social media influencers can be used in marketing, he says the approach often depends on the industry and audience demographics.
Since cars are big-ticket items, buyers tend to save for months or years before pulling the trigger. Influencers, on the other hand, are aspirational and can inspire consumers to take action. They showcase products in a new light and can make a vehicle seem something worth saving for. Different approaches to influencer marketing can produce amazing results, as buying decisions in the automotive industry are fuelled by different factors.
Apart from human influencers, even pet influencers are raking in sales. Take the case of Loki, a Husky-Wolf Mix with two million Instagram followers, which has starred in advertisements for Mercedes-Benz and Toyota USA.
Though most luxury brands typically maintain an air of exclusivity, Mercedes-Benz took influencer marketing to another level in order to appeal to a younger audience. The company created a video of Loki and owner driving the Mercedes-Benz GLS through the mountains of Denver, Colorado.
Granting viewers a glimpse of the gorgeous landscape through Loki’s eyes, the campaign, which soon went viral, created a sensation in India. In addition to the commercial, Mercedes-Benz also made its campaign’s presence felt on Instagram.
Instagram alone generated over 173 million impressions and 2.3 million likes and comments. The campaign’s success relied heavily on the innovative approach that matched the message of the luxury product.
Though Loki has been credited with the bulk of the video’s appeal, marketers insist it is the use of authentic storytelling combined with innovative technology that made Mercedes-Benz’s campaign a huge success.
Toyota, too, teamed up with Loki, the pet influencer for its 4Runner, one of the brand’s most popular models, designed for adventure and outdoor exploration.
Toyota’s Instagram partnership with Loki started in February 2017, and has showcased the 4Runner in a diverse array of natural environments like snow, forest, and desert, subtly reminding social media followers of the vehicle’s versatility.
As market experts say, pet content has a unique shareability factor, resulting in higher engagement and more viral posts. These posts tend to make people happy and people, in turn, will associate these positive feelings with the selected brand partner.
Several other brands in the automobile industry too are getting influencers on board, to directly interact and engage with their audience.
Take, for instance, Nissan and its recently launched Kicks where it engaged with social media influencers during the ICC Trophy Tour. These included the likes of former cricketers VVS Laxman and Aakash Chopra as well as sports anchor Gaurav Kapoor.
Kicks targeted Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and splashed its campaign across Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. Aakash Chopra’s pre-buzz tweet said: ‘Mumbaikars, New Nissan Kicks has brought the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy to India. I am going to be there at Infinity Mall, Malad to see it. Join me there’.
BuzzOne Influencer Marketing, which did the campaign for Nissan, also roped in Rufus Reynolds, well-known Indian traveller and photographer, to share his experiences. Many Instagram stories, posts and videos followed, as they did for Jubin Shah, noted fashion influencer and Instagram star, and for Shifa Merchant, fashion, travel and entertainment blogger.
Mumbai-based banker turned influencer Nisha Gupta was also roped in, as was Bengaluru-based interior design architect and influencer Subhashish Mandal and influencer Shyam Tyagi.
On December 1, 2018, the campaign’s reach was pegged at 41.59 lakh, with 1.9 crore impressions. By December 7, the reach had jumped to 1.2 crore with 1.29 crore impressions.
While marketing Kicks, Nissan was among the first to sign a main-stage collaboration and immersive 360 Kick-sperience Dome activation at the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival. The partnership extended across digital and social media platforms.
Another partnership with audio streaming platform Spotify featured a hyper-focused personal playlist, artist-recorded video series and heavy rotational media support.
Understated instead of aggressive
Other notable auto brands executing strong influencer marketing campaigns are Volvo, partnering with fashion mega-influencer Aimee Song, and Ferrari activating fashion influencer Ali Gordon and Tallia Storm.
Land Rover, famous for its iconic four-wheel-drive adventure cars, teamed up with seven influencers to highlight the durability and versatility of its vehicles. It showcased the practicality of its 7-passenger SUV, the Discovery, with these influencers.
Auto brands are increasingly realising that these influencer campaigns are understated, instead of aggressive, which is why they work.