There’s an increasing buzz around Influencer Campaigns we’ve experienced over the past 9 months, both within the games industry and beyond. It seems there’s now an imperative for brands to have a strategy for this new area – not least because it’s delivered some great results.
So what are Influencer Campaigns and why are they important? Well, in essence, Influencer Campaigns are the practise of partnering with Influencer Talent to leverage their popularity and network or audiences through the creation of content, activity, event or experience etc. that communicates the brand or product message of the advertiser. It’s significant because Influencer Campaigns offer a new opportunity to reach a highly specialist audience – often including a substantial proportion of those all-important and evasive “millennials” – who advertiser fine increasingly hard to reach on TV and traditional advertising.
Maverick have recently completed Influencer Campaigns for two of Ubisoft’s recent game releases: Tom Clancy’s The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege; two separate but similar projects where we thought to share some best practise in what is a fast moving and evolving area of the media space. So here goes:
The Influencer Talent is the foundation around which the Influence Campaign Content is built. Quite simply, the Talent brings with them the audience and a credible voice to reach them – making the Talent choice and designing their form of engagement is perhaps the most important factor in the Influencer Campaign. In the case of video gaming campaigns, there are scores of highly successful and established YouTubers to choose from – each with their own unique online persona, each with a reputation for playing certain games, and with the likes of Ali-A, Vikkstar123, Slogoman and MasterOV commanding millions of subscribers. This represents a huge opportunity with the potential access a channel that can deliver 500K views in a matter of hours.
But it’s not quite as simple as merely identifying the Talent – YouTubers are very aware of their Superstar Status and the value of their audience. Influencer Talent can be sceptical about advertising and brands and the potential connotations to their fans (noting their principal income comes from YouTube/Google based on the audience they deliver, not the advertiser direct). So the offer to the Talent has to be the right one, and one designed to augment their profile – perhaps an offer that helps them make interesting and original content that helps them grow their audience too.
So the creative concept behind the campaign would then be the second most important element of the Influencer Campaign, and it’s the role of the creative agency to achieve this – gaining the interest and engagement of the Talent with a great idea, and one that aligns the personal brand of the talent with the advertisers brand message (about the game). And thirdly this idea has to result in the creation of sharable content that is exciting and unique and can be embraced and shared by the audience. How do we do this – well, (forgive the trumpet blow) that’s the bit where twenty years of experience of everything from “old skool” virals to creating award winning games trailers comes in:
There’s one set of challenges if the brief is to communicate about a product like Volvic, and another for a video game release – while in many ways, a game brief is a creative gift (given that the very nature of a game concept is to be amusing, entertaining, and involving some element of interactivity), the gaming audience is a tough one to please with a nose for being sold to. Thus, it’s essential that the Content delivers a worthwhile viewing experience, one that skilfully integrates the specific game product messages in a way that is authentic to the game (it’s not acceptable just to video Influencers on a PR jolly day out, or to create an extended “let’s play”). This Content sits in a new unique hybrid space between traditional TV content and advertising, and has to be on a par with the best of both worlds – delivering information and excitement with style, quality of execution, spectacle and production value that will get it noticed. Get the Content right and you have something the Talent is proud to share, often going beyond the scope of an agreement to get behind the campaign and resulting in increasing exposure in the form of additional Tweets, Instagram posts and other video postings – all inspired and aligned to the theme of the Content.
THE CAMPAIGN RESULTS
So while the content is the output, the results of the campaign are determined by its successful deployment and roll out. It’s not simply about the views on YouTube (that said, these two example campaigns for Ubisoft each clocked over a Million views within 36 hours – delivering a huge brand exposure to the exact target demographic.) An advertiser often has a remit to execute activity across multiple territories to achieve alignment of messaging as well as to help create cost savings and it’s best practise for an Influencer Campaign to be created so it can be reinterpreted and repeated for other territories. In the case of Rainbow Six: Siege, the idea of training Influencers for an SAS style assault on a 747 was reworked to provide the same experience for games journalists who could enjoy a simliar experience to the Influencers. Moreover, the high concept of assaulting a 747 was sufficiently inspiring for UK TV Show The Gadget Show to create an entire piece around Rainbow Six: Siege – adding millions to the audience. Similarly the concept of working with real Preppers allowed lad culture website UniLad the opportunity to create their own video content around learning the skills to survive in a The Division style environment.
The central concept is reinterpreted by UniLad who create their companion content based on the themes of the Influencer Campaign