Branding

People are the New Media

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Afdhel Aziz, Director of Absolut Labs, said, “Any marketer who wants to succeed in the future needs to think in these terms: people are the new media.”

Gone are the days when big brands could develop a catchy jingle and it’d echo in consumers’ minds on repeat. Today, consumers are inundated with sales pitches and marketing ploys alike. They’ve developed a heightened awareness, borderline paranoia, of what is genuine vs. what is paid for. With geo-targeting tracking not only your purchases but every move your mouse makes online, consumers are demanding transparency and authenticity from brands.

One way brands are building trust and staying relevant is by working with influencers. From cooking to fitness, dads to moms, health to technology, there is an influencer out there who has a network of trusted peers looking to them for advice, inspiration and/or guidance. To peers, they are not seen as spokespeople of a brand, but rather real, authentic people who believe in a brand.

CEO of Intuit, Scott Cook, said it best, A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is–it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

Here are 3 ways food brands have leveraged influencers to build trust, display transparency and prove authenticity in today’s cluttered media landscape.

1. McDonald’s – Vlogger captures the burgers’ farm-to-table story

When McDonald’s was asked if their Big Mac burger was made with 100% real beef, they looked to Doug Armstrong, food, travel & lifestyle vlogger, to go behind the scenes and tell their story. The fast-food giant invited him to their beef farm, meat-processing factory and kitchen. While he was paid to make the video, Doug was given full editorial control to share his take on the experience. To date, his 7 minute “docu-video” has educated +3.2 million viewers that yes, it’s real beef!

2. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council – Five chefs challenged to experiment

With the rise of celebrity chefs, cooking shows and competitions in recent years, consumers now look to chefs for kitchen inspiration. With this in mind, The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council looked to chefs to experiment and highlight the versatility of blueberries. Vetting five top U.S. foodie cities, The Blueberry Council sought out an acclaimed chef in each of these cities: Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Asheville and Pittsburgh. After choosing a variety of blueberry forms to experiment with, the chefs were given free-range to experiment in their kitchens. The result? Savory Blueberry Gnocchi, Blueberry Mignonette Oysters and a Blueberry Cucumber, Pistachio Salad to name a few. The blueberry creations were even served at the chefs’ respective restaurants for one week, or longer, giving diners the first taste of their culinary experimentation.

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3. Yardbird Restaurant – Got followers? Dine with us!

Recognized as the 40th most-Instagrammed-from restaurant in the U.S., according to a list provided by the social media platform, the Miami and Las Vegas restaurant has invited famous foodie influencers to dine with them and share their experience socially. Emily Dickens, director of the restaurant’s culinary and hospitality firm says influencers are an “easy marketing tool.” A wave of Instagram posts featuring a restaurant’s beautiful, mouthwatering fare can, and often do, have the power to “make” restaurants. Even further, restaurants are now gauging their “instagrammability” a.k.a what can they do to ensure diners want to take photos of their food. Just take a page out of Roy Choi’s Commissary, named the #1 most Instagrammed restaurant in the U.S.!

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From vloggers to chefs to diners, influencers have a powerful part in marketing today. It’s a tough job tasting, experimenting and photographing delicious meals all day, but someone’s got to do it! Will you be the next foodie influencer?

About Julie LePere:

As a Senior Account Executive in PadillaCRT’s New York office, Julie offers public relations and marketing counsel to several clients in the Food & Beverage Practice. Julie provides administrative support, program planning and social media management for the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. She manages the foodservice program of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, in addition to offering support and coordination to the B&W Grower Watercress foodservice and consumer programs.

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