‘Believe in the brand’: Kellogg’s is now using influencers like creative agencies

Kellogg’s is starting to treat influencers like brand ambassadors.

Rather than pick influencers based on their reach and negotiate contracts on a per-campaign basis, the CPG manufacturer wants influencers who are genuine fans of its brands and are open to longer-term relationships.

When British endurance athlete and blogger Sophie Radcliffe completed the Manchester Run race earlier this month, she ran a post shortly after the race that thanked the Special K cereal brand for its support. It was a paid for promotion, but it did encapsulate the goodwill that had grown between influencer and advertiser from working together on a campaign over a longer period of time, said Joseph Harper, social media lead at Kellogg’s U.K. and Ireland at the Digiday Brand Summit Europe on May 22.

“Rather than paying for Sophie’s audience because she’s young and trendy, we tried to immerse her in our campaign,” said Harper. Radcliffe is someone who believes in Special K and can create content that shows how the cereal powers women every day as part of a balanced diet, said Harper.

Partnerships like these allow Kellogg’s marketers to lean on the expertise of the people actually buying their products; and the collaboration between the brand and its consumers produce content that audiences will find more interesting, entertaining and useful, said Harper. This doesn’t mean handing over full control to the influencers, but using their insights, knowledge and creativity to inform campaigns. In some instances, for example, influencers are being used further upstream in marketing strategies for Kellogg’s brands. The advertiser recently held a product development workshop in London where influencers for health and fitness were invited to share feedback on an upcoming product ahead of its global launch.

It points to a broader trend of influencers taking on more expansive briefs than what has traditionally amounted to product placement deals. Some of those deals would have otherwise gone to a creative agency. Instead, talent agency Gleam Futures, which has worked with Kellogg’s in the past, has created a brand consultancy Gleam Solutions in a bid to push influencers to those larger, more lucrative projects.

To help elevate the quality of content from influencers, Kellogg’s has formed a group that consists of three different stakeholders: the client, which consists of Harper as well as experts from Kellogg’s legal, nutrition and comms teams, who create briefs on how influencers can talk about their brands: agency execs who then facilitate the delivery of feedback to the influencer, as well as the delivery of the content to the client: and the influencer who creates the content. Information is shared via a “live document” said Harper in order to account for the fact that the different stakeholders aren’t always in the same location or even on the same schedule. As Harper explained: “It’s been a journey, but we’re seeing the results of really effective content.”

Developing these more strategic relationships comes at a cost for advertisers. Brand managers at Kellogg’s are being trained so that they can spot the right influencers for their briefs as well as use a mix of qualitative and quantitative metrics to monitor their effectiveness.

Influencer marketing has grown up, with brands, agencies and influencers themselves are more savvy about making it work, especially when it comes to the question of measurement. The influencer agencies that work with Kellogg’s brands are prioritizing clearer measurement deliverables at the demand of its own marketers as well as its retained media agencies, said Harper. Most of those agencies now only work with influencers who authenticate their accounts, he said.

Virtually anyone with a social account can buy fans, and it’s become a profitable business for companies who can create hordes of fraudulent followers. Some advertisers like Unilever have said they won’t work with influencers that use metrics they cannot trust. For Kellogg’s and its agencies, the influencers it works with are the ones who can offer a clear breakdown of their audiences, whether that’s age, location or demographics. The move toward longer-term partnerships could make measurement easier, as advertisers like Kellogg’s should be able to start optimizing their briefs and content based on the performance of their influencer partners.

Of 83 client-side marketers polled by Digiday last month, 27% said the biggest obstacle to influencer marketing is measuring campaign performance. We Are Social and GroupM are among a number of agencies working directly with influencers so that they can interpret their first-party data and understand what that means in the context of a client’s wider marketing.


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