Moët & Chandon has spent the last two years implementing a highly selective, centralized approach to influencer marketing. The considered approach has seen it utilize its creator partners beyond the Instagram grid.
“Luxury brands have always historically been last to market with respect to things like social media – particularly, not being able to control their message,” according to Raveena Parmar, assistant vice president, digital at Moët & Chandon’s influencer agency, Nike Communications.
This was once true for her champagne client to a certain extent – it had only sporadically dipped its toe into influencer marketing before the arrival of brand director Christine Ngo-Isaac in 2017.
The marketer, who joined from PepsiCo and came armed with agency-side experience, made it clear “right away” that she wanted to wipe “one-off” influencer deals out of the picture, and took the time to develop the three-tier structure with Nike that’s now started to pay dividends.
The strategy works like this: the top tier comprises just five influencers who are part of a year-long ambassador program; the middle tier is staffed with ‘amplifiers’ contracted to widen the reach of certain campaigns throughout the year; and the bottom tier is filled with micro-influencers to ensure year-round, evergreen coverage.
The selection process of the top-tier is meticulous. The likes of Rocky Barnes, Zanita Whittington, and Jenny Cipoletti were selected as ambassadors not only because of their follower count but because of their abilities outside the blogosphere.
“I love a person that looks great in photos on Instagram, but can they be used for live interviews or press opportunities?” said Ngo-Isaac. “Can they be used in a video? Can they do live segments?
“Those are really important things because there's no shortage of influencers right now.”
Parmar explained the brand is even looking to recruit creatives – in the traditional sense – that also double as influencers. It collaborated with poet Cleo Wade to develop a Snapchat game for Valentine’s Day, for instance, and when sourcing suppliers for its events it looks to contract perhaps a socially-active "illustrator to do invites or a floristry influencer to do all the floral arrangements”.
“Influencers who influence for influencing's sake... are not as press worthy,” said Parmar. “That doesn't mean they're not important and don't play a role in the influencer world, but people who are experts in their own world definitely make our lives a lot easier from a PR perspective.
“To garner meaningful press is to ensure you are collaborating with an influencer who's an expert in their own field.”
Ngo-Isaac has centralized the influencer ‘department’ so that every part of the brand’s marketing mix is given access to this pre-vetted talent. She regularly brings all her agencies – from PR to media – to meet around one table and receive their briefs at the same time.
This has meant Moët & Chandon’s ambassadors regularly feature in above-the-line creative and make appearances at its events and activations, much like celebrity ambassadors once did. The brand has also been experimenting with bringing influencers to some of its key events and accounts “to see if they're able to drive foot traffic or awareness”, according to the brand director.
Celebrities still factor in Moët & Chandon’s marketing, however, are more likely to design a limited-edition bottle – like Virgil Abloh recently did – than post an #ad Instagram post.
“[Celebrities] are still a part of the mix but influencers often have just as much reach and engagement,” explained Parmar. “With celeb talent, it can be a little bit tricky to make sure the key message is coming across or you’re getting the right asset.
"With influencers, this is what they live and breathe – and you might get better rates too.”
Ngo-Isaac would not reveal ROI figures for the year’s influencer successes, however, confirmed the program is now a “bigger priority for the organization” than it was before she joined.
“We wanted to have proof of concept,” she said. “We're thrilled by the results so we're going to continue it next year and expand the [influencer] family.”