September 3, 2018
"To create anything — whether a short story or a magazine profile or a film or a sitcom — is to believe, if only momentarily, you are capable of magic." -Tom Bissell - Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation
Since the beginning of mass media, marketers have tried to collaborate with people who come with a big following: actors, musicians, TV personalities and sports icons. The rise of social influencers brought about a new approach. Their ‘diamond in the rough’ quality attracted followers, but the connection these new stars made with their audience was based on trust and authenticity. Popular web creators made content that served a real purpose for their fans and strengthened a brand.
Influencer marketing lost its magic somewhere along the way, in large part because brands, agencies and influencers returned to the format of celebrity endorsement. They seek out the most prominent influencers to push a brand, product or message. The world of influencer marketing has become standardised with fixed fees, management agencies and other media buying platforms. The magic of the authentic content from creative influencers is slowly fading into the background.
In the past few years, LEWIS has carried out many influencer campaigns for consumer and business brands. More recently, we have recognized the challenge; how do we keep the magic of influencer marketing in our collaborations? Our solution is to focus on the best creators rather than on the biggest influencers. This doesn’t mean that we don’t look at the reach of an influencer, but we try to find a balance between reach and creativity.
If we only look at reach, we are guaranteed to fall into the trap of doing nothing more than celebrity endorsement. However, when we find creators interested in collaborating with clients to generate inventive content, then we leverage the full creative and reach potential of influencer marketing.
We firmly believe that the story we want to tell with influencers should be through content that is remarkable, attention-getting and (ideally) shareable. Influencers may stand on the internet landscape, but the abundance of social media channels and creators means that content from influencer collaborations also needs to stand out from other influencers. The risk is too high otherwise of making a regular old post that we scroll by on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. An unremarkable influencer post becomes just another sort of media buying.
We work closely with creators to develop a format for a campaign. We brief them extensively on the narrative, objectives and creative angles we have formulated based on our experience with the client, other campaigns or influencer collaborations. Together, we develop a concept to present to a client, showcasing the innovative magic and potential of influencer collaborations. This process also helps us get the buy-in from creators, so they give their utmost to make the campaign a success.
We all know it doesn’t make any sense to work with tech influencers when your client is a beauty or fashion brand. The fit between creator and brand, however, should also look at the type of creative content that would best match the campaign’s objectives.
LEWIS had the opportunity to collaborate with one of the biggest YouTube talents around: Woody Wonder. Woody Wonder is the award-winning brainchild of Nick Janssen and Wout Kanters. They are a global hit with more than 20 million views of their action, comedy and animation videos.
Woody Wonder became an even bigger sensation with their videos that mixed Hollywood characters with the gaming scene (watch their TED series of Ted playing Call of Duty). When we got the brief to support the home entertainment release of the Assassin’s Creed movie, working with the talented guys from Woody Wonder just made sense. Together with Wout and Nick, we developed an idea that would appeal not only to their audience but also to Assassin’s Creed fans in the Netherlands. It was a delicate balance between the humorous action of Woody Wonder and the recognizable POV, action and world of Assassin’s Creed. However, when fans of both parties embraced the video, we knew we’d found the perfect fit.
We aim for the moon in offering unique opportunities for creators to convince them to work with us and develop kick-ass formats that stick. Influencers are humans, after all, and each has a bucket list of experiences, people or concepts they want to work with. Bringing the magic back into influencer marketing content means that we must offer the creative ingredients to do so. If a creator has always wanted to shoot footage from the biggest Comicon event, we look for a way to do it. If a creator wants to discover Amsterdam in a totally different way, we offer him/her a chance to ride along with a former pro cyclist. We even realized a dream of interviewing TV celebrities in a Facebook live session from a red-carpet event or in a living room. We were able to achieve this because everyone involved believed in that extra bit of magic we could create with the right format, content fit and just enough ambition.