Is 2019 the “year of the fall” for the influencer? It hasn’t been a good month for Gabriel Grossman and Marissa Fuchs, whose surprise wedding was about as in-the-moment as a Bachelorette reveal -- and hey, I like The Bachelorette! In sum, the “surprises” were all pre-planned sponsorships making the proposal less spur of the moment and romantic gestures and more a shameful exploitation of what should be a special day.In fact, influencer meltdowns have been trending. For example, a recent New York Magazine article titled “ The Summer of Beauty Influencer Drama Is Alive and Well” mentions how the feud between beauty influencers James Charles and Tati Westbrooks impacted both their follower counts and their beauty line sales.
Fans are beginning to question the legitimacy of Instagram influencers and whether their ‘grams are truly portals into their lives, if they really put the “expert” in expertise or if everything is merely a staged show. Not to mention, there are a million ways to measure influence, and not all influencers or their demographics are relevant to your business and your core audience. Influencer backlash is real, and beloved L.A. institutions like CVT Softserve are serving influencers a side of sass and charging them double for feeling entitled to freebies simply because of their influence.
Advertisers are now left with the question: to engage with influencers or not to engage with influencers? What we’ve found in the out-of-home (OOH) space, and what we’ve found increasingly true each year, is that audiences want to connect with brands and their representatives in an authentic way. Influencers themselves aren’t the problem; it’s how they share their message, and how brands leverage their influence.
For some brands, an influencer really is an extension of their brand and can help them resonate and develop deeper relationships with their audience. Take for example last year’s Adidas Originals campaign. The sports brand found a personalized way to connect influencers to their brand and to their fans at large by using OOH as an anchor to deliver their message. Adidas was able to build relationships with unboxing YouTube vloggers and other Insta-lebrities by posting billboards throughout New York City and sending them to special locations to receive their very own Adidas sneakers. These influencers shared images of these billboards across their social media pages, and their followers got to be part of the journey, join the campaign and experience the hype for themselves.
Meanwhile, Adidas has consistently used OOH to showcase how it is ahead of the curve and continues to identify potential influencers. From the ultra-marathoner and Head Fitness Instructor at Peloton, Robin Arzón, to using smaller scale influencers who share a sports-centric audience, Adidas’s carefully crafted OOH campaigns have showcased just how important it is to work with influencers who share your same core values.
For other brands, they are not only listening to their audience, but finding moments to feature some of their biggest supporters in their OOH campaigns. By doing so, these everyday people become influencers and someone a brand’s audience aspires to be like. For Pride this year, the wedding registry Zola took to the streets to connect directly with its audience and make them the stars of their campaign. They hosted a series of pop-ups where people could write love letters to their partners, and nearly 1,000 people participated in the event. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community had their letters on billboards in highly trafficked areas during Pride weekend to share their message of love and unity with the world.
OOH helps brands and influencers directly connect with their audience. It’s the best medium to share an authentic message and show your audience you care about them or you know what they care about. In this moment of influencer fatigue, OOH has a way of helping brands and influencers walk the walk and connect with people in a genuine way that is not only for the ‘gram!
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