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How A Handful Of Milliennial Influencers Saved Acura’s ILX Launch Campaign

If you ask the public what are the top ways car companies advertise their new product, they’d probably agree on something like billboards. Or glossy magazine ads. Or multi-million dollar TV spots. What likely wouldn’t make the top 10 responses, however, would be word-of-mouth or influencer marketing.

But that’s exactly the type of campaign that Acura ran to get the word out about the ILX, a new car designed for young professionals looking to make their first luxury vehicle purchase. The car company first tried the more traditional advertising techniques, but in the end it took working with marketing company Brand Influencers and a handful of highly targeted, highly influential millennials to achieve their marketing and sales objectives.

Their campaign was so successful that it was recognized as one of the best examples of influencer marketing in the past year, winning a top spot on Raynforest’s Top 10 Influencer Marketing Campaigns Awards, according to a panel of influencer marketing experts and public vote (Disclosure:  I’m an executive for Raynforest).  The full list of winners is available on the Raynforest blog.

When the car company reached out to Brand Influencers, they had a problem. The initial Acura ILX launch campaign was a flop. Millennials simply didn’t seem to take much notice of the new car. So rather than continue to bombard them with one-way, “buy now!” messages through broadcast media, they turned to influential social media users to share their genuine experiences with their target audience.

Brand Influencers performed extensive background research on the ILX’s target market, breaking it down into six key passion points. They then selected influencers that represented each passion point, and focused all of their marketing resources on these six individuals.

They collaborated with each influencer to create a personalized week-long experience with the ILX.

For radio and podcast host Bald Bryan’s personalized #WeekWithILX, for instance, they equipped him with the car and some cash to give away in a mobile interview show. And for LA Latina family and lifestyle blogger Queen of Swag, they personalized a week-long Disney road trip.

The influencers blogged about, tweeted about, Instagrammed and YouTubed their experiences – the car’s impact on the lives of these influencers was shared across multiple social media platforms. And because Brand Influencers targeted influential millennials with huge, highly mobilized audiences, the #WeekWithILX campaign spread like wildfire.

So what kind of results did this creative influencer campaign see? All-in-all, Acura experienced a 750% ROI (earned media value). Each influencer introduced 40 additional people into their live test drive experience, creating a 2,400% social amplification. And across all social channels, the Acura brand was exposed to a total of 18 million audience members, daily.

By thinking outside the box and pinpointing the right influencers, Acura was able to take a failed launch campaign and turn it into a win. The campaign was engaging, unique and action-oriented. It relied on the power of social media to amplify influential millennials’ genuine voices and reach a wide audience, and showcased a variety of ways the Acura ILX could be used to enrich a young professional’s life. It wasn’t just a splashy billboard – it was new, fresh, and it leveraged influencers to a resounding success.

By Mark Fidelman, CEO for Raynforest and a regular contributor to Forbes CMO Network.

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