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Creativity in the age of product placement by a strategic planner

In 2019, more than ever before, influence has become a major focus of all strategic discussions regarding brands, raising the most common question on the subject: “Can the influencer marketing be simply a question of product placement?” However, the question we should be asking ourselves is rather: “What is the role of creativity in this new ecosystem?”

A hybridisation of skills and disciplines

Unlike 360° agencies, which often consider strategy and creation as separate entities, influencer marketing agencies should address the creative process in a cross-disciplinary approach: In our role as a strategic planner, it is our mission to ensure the customer’s satisfaction so that a brand universe can be enriched and reshaped. The constraints of social media and their use, however, require us to work on brand issues from a different angle:

In influencer marketing, creative thinking should on no account come at the end of the creative process, as it is the essence of strategic thinking.

At WOÔ, we no longer speak of a brand strategist or planner but rather a “Creative strategist”: Translation of hybrid planning, between creative strategy and input (analysis, big idea and activation strategy), as well as the art direction and visual identity of a campaign.

Followers’ changing behaviours
The number of posts for which an influencer worked with brands represented 6 out of 10 posts in 2018. That is four posts less than in 2017. The brands’ share of voice is in decline.  Why? Because influencers adapt themselves to the followers’ changing behaviours: the “clickbait” is no longer a valid marketing tactic, so beware of authenticity trap and proliferation of branded content!

A behaviour widely supported by influencers, who, in this respect, seek to work with brands as long-term partners. Since “one-shot” operations are becoming rarer, a 6-month or even a one-year campaign strategy must be designed to be adaptable, authentic and inclusive.

Such a reversal is another opportunity to take risks and be creative: influencers and followers are aware of brands that are trying to understand them and offer to enjoy new experiences (whether it is online or offline). 

So how can one be influential and creative?

  1.  Understanding the influencer and his/her environment

Being receptive to the brand, its market and customers is always the essential prerequisite for strategic thinking. It is also crucial to be aware of the social media trends, algorithms, tools and behaviours related to these trends. But the question is more far-reaching than that, to create a hard-hitting influence campaign, we must consider influencers as content and creators. Understanding the influencers’ tribes and the various creators’ niches implies understanding their followers, i.e. the final consumer.

2. Not just a “casting sheet”

A diverse, relevant and thoughtful casting at each step of the influence pyramid (nano-, micro-, macro-) is as important as the idea itself. The effective influencer can engage with your audience via storytelling and authentic content. 

After all, a good casting is to make sure that the creative idea is captured and enhanced.

3. “Do not launch” a campaign, begin a discussion

Consumers are looking for authenticity and life-stories. Social media tools now enable us to meet the current demand. There are many levers of engagement: commitment, involvement, expertise and so on.So how to get it right?

We can connect with the brand, observe and transcend the underlying issues in a distinctive setting then begin a discussion: Too often, brands forget to focus on the “social” aspect of “social media”. Beware: It is possible to be creative and have a great deal of brand recognition!

For instance, this is the case of Petit Bateau, whose aim is to tell visual and editorial stories that can be captured by each consumer thanks to the simple UGC techniques! Why do these campaigns create such a high level of commitment? Because Petit Bateau does not speak of a “campaign” but rather a story in which the consumer is always the hero.

Thus, one must consider beyond product placement to create a powerful “big idea”: What would I like to see when I open my Instagram? What would the x brand be saying to make an impact?
Finally, how to define its embodiment: Content creation? Experience? Trip? The possibilities are manifold, and the most engaging content is often the one that focuses mainly on experience.

Well, the good news is that influencer marketing is still relatively recent, so there will be hundreds of “first times” to be discovered!

4. When the customer is your greatest creative force

To highlight the new collection of reversible windbreaker from the brand Petit Bateau, WOÔ has imagined a campaign called #CacheCacheCouleur (#colourhideandseek). Various profiles of influencers (men, moms, senior, etc.) fades into the background colours with their windbreaker, while motivating their communities to enter a contest to win gifts.

Influencer's posts:
petitbateau_54447080_600418420450748_3293375821366088277_n.jpg 46.56 KB
petitbateau_54512648_1162035180640643_1486739155890905737_n.jpg 73.72 KB
petitbateau_54248082_346025586260844_1620015602822348577_n.jpg 86.32 KB

UGC contents:
sophiemignon_57032380_652127891876862_4167612031192957755_n.jpg 274.38 KB
lulebiscuit_54511917_314859369200585_1647512475654451539_n.jpg 89.29 KB
ma_cabane_o_canada_55837743_129643688106595_1273092653933116445_n.jpg 47.21 KB

The influencer is not a channel, nor is it a billboard. Being creative in 2019 implies to consider each campaign as the result of teamwork among the agency, the brand, the content creator and his or her follower!

Laury Guégan, Creative & Brand Strategist @WOÔ