By Julie Geller, @juliegeller
A flurry of headlines over the past few months about agency exits from Canada is giving marketers and advertisers something to think about.
Case in point is the Toronto exodus of Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B). With offices in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden, CP+B is a leading agency with an impressive A-list of global clientele that includes Windows, Molson, Ikea, Best Buy, Coca-Cola Zero, Under Armour, Volkswagen and Burger King.
In the January 4, 2013, issue of Marketing, Chuck Porter, the co-chairman of CP+B and chief strategist of its parent company MDC Partners, explained how the absence of work “where the idea and the soul of the idea came from Canada” contributed to his agency’s short-lived Canadian tenure following its acquisition of Zig in July 2010.Marshall McLuhan famously labelled Canada as “the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.” In reality, Canada’s identity is diversity — just not a singular concept like the melting pot of our southern neighbours. Our multicultural mindset makes us complex, dynamic and unique, traits that can challenge the most sophisticated marketer.
“I think there’s a natural kind of propensity for people to think ‘If it works in Chicago, it will work [in Canada].’ That tends to be pretty short-sighted, because you miss an awful lot of emotion that you could get by tapping into what’s unique about the Canadian culture as opposed to what’s the same. It’s about things Canadians care about in a different way than Americans do.”
Today, the marketer’s secret weapon for crafting a relevant Canadian message resides in influencer outreach. With influencer marketing, you can join forces with bloggers, writers and personalities who are invested and established in your sector and have proven credibility with your audience.
Another example of influencer outreach in action is the teaming of Kate Spade New York (684,844 Facebook “Likes” and 376,056 Twitter followers) with Toronto’s go-to fashion influencer Marta Tryshak of With Love Gabrielle (5,282 Facebook “Likes” and 4,565 Twitter followers) for the grand opening of the designer’s first Canadian boutique in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. A long-time Kate Spade devotee, Tryshak served as host of the opening, an opportunity that let her blog about the event and about the brand for weeks.
“I think that Kate Spade New York reached out [to me] since their brand fits very well with my personal style,” said Tryshak. “WithLoveGabrielle.com was a good media partner to get their brand message out in a positive and effective way.”
Late last year, Moon Apparel similarly recruited 10 of Canada’s top fashion bloggers (50,580 total Twitter followers) for its inspired Ambassador Program. Boasting a reach from Vancouver to Montreal, the members of the Moon Diplomatic Corp., as they are called, were asked to put together and write about their own Moon Apparel favourites, including accessories. The engagement value of such influencer-driven features was highlighted in Notable: “The end result is an online dossier of modern Fall style complete with a personal tip from each blogger.”
Another Canadian-born influencer, supermodel Coco Rocha, is appearing as the official Style Guest for the 2013 Melbourne Cup Carnival – Australia’s largest outdoor fashion event. Rocha is just one of many Canadian figures who are recognized in the global fashion landscape.
The influencer outreach trend is growing quickly in the beauty and fashion sectors, but the potential is equally strong for other verticals. Just last week, Samsung worked with local influencers Leslie Fremar, Kirk Pickersgill, Jully Black, and Mike Bradwell to promote its new Galaxy Gear Smartwatch add-on for the Galaxy Note 3. Samsung’s aim was to make a statement just before Holiday shopping season, and they proved that influencer marketing is undeniably effective. This is not the first time that Samsung has taken this approach – they did a similar launch with other products last year.
In Canada, influencer outreach is a new and exciting communications tool. For consumers, who are increasingly sophisticated in their response to advertising and marketing, influencers represent active, connected resources. For today’s marketer, influencers are an eager and qualified sales force ready to represent your brand.