Unilever, the consumer packaged goods giant, is taking a nuanced approach to influencer marketing as it seeks to leverage the upsides of this strategy as well as tackling the current obstacles.

Luis Di Como, Unilever’s evp/global media, discussed this subject during a session held by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) at Advertising Week New York 2018.

“We truly believe in the power of influencer marketing. We use it to connect our work with people – to reach out and to engage people,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Unilever’s keys to mastering influencer marketing.)

“But we also use it to build trust and credibility for our brands and to bring a really great brand experience to the people that we serve.”

Elaborating on this theme, he suggested that its influencer efforts focus not just on a product, but on attempts to covey a brand’s purpose – as shown by Dove, the personal care line, focusing on “real beauty”.

“We are using influencer marketing for Dove across the whole spectrum. In some cases, we use influencers to talk about the features and benefits of the products,” Di Como said.

“But, more and more, we are using them to talk about the idea to buy into – to talk about the brand value, of why the brand exists, and the purpose of the brand.”

Unilever, however, is also aware that the influencer space face challenges, such as artificially inflated follower counts. “We believe that trust in the whole ecosystem is under risk,” Di Como said.

In responding to these obstacles, Unilever has certain principles that it relies on. “We will not work with influencers that buy followers,” Di Como said in outlining one such rule. Similarly, he added: “We will never buy any followers for our brands.”

Another essential consideration for the brand: “We will prioritise partners who increase transparency and help eradicate bad practices from the whole ecosystem.”

Measurement remains a further issue that requires ongoing refinement, too, as traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) are not entirely satisfactory.

“There is an obsession that the only KPIs out there are ‘reach’ or ‘number of followers’,” said Di Como. “We need to talk about what the real impact is on brand equity – the real impact on the values of the brand.”

Sourced from WARC