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Lime is building an influencer network to reinforce its ‘hyper-local’ approach


By Katie Deighton, Senior Reporter

October 2, 2019 | 5 min read

Lime, the ‘micromobility’ brand known for its electric scooters, is getting ready to launch a local ambassador program internationally in order to deepen its local approach to content creation and marketing.

Lime Urban Optimists

Lime will recruit 'Urban Optimists' in each of its 120+ cities

Its version of influencer marketing won’t necessarily mean wooing top vloggers and Instagram stars to promote the company’s electric bike and scooter offering. Instead, the brand will create content with real locals who are already active in their communities and evangelical about using Lime’s products.

Dubbed 'The Urban Optimist', the project is the brainchild of Lime’s chief marketing officer, Duke Stump.

The marketer was inspired to create such a grassroots project after witnessing firsthand the success of Lululemon’s ambassador program, which launched during his time at the activewear company as executive vice-president for community and brand.

“[The program] is really a mechanism for Lime to connect with people at the local level who are from a place, who are doing really beautiful work in fostering a sense of connection and who have mobility as a key part of their lives,” he told The Drum.

“For us, the first step is making sure we support these ambassadors in the most beautiful way. Then there will be moments where content just seems real and relevant and so we'll capture that. And then, where it makes sense, then we'll bring that into some level of funnel management to be able to celebrate what those folks are up to.”

This will comprise pushing video featuring the ambassadors on Lime’s social channels. Additionally, brand is strategizing how to feed the program into its PR and communications strategy.

The content produced by and for The Urban Optimist will follow the same creative vein as ‘Unlock Life’ – a series of online films charting the journeys of ordinary city people.

Stump plans to roll out The Urban Optimist into every one of Lime’s 120+ markets. However, it will first appear as part of the brand’s official launch in Los Angeles later this month.

As it has with every market, the company is approaching its debut on the streets of LA with a local sensitivity. Rather than developing a standard set of assets to be tweaked and translated for each market, Lime has implemented what it calls a “hyper-local” approach to creative.

This involves hiring local agencies in order to provide local insight into local views on electric scooters and electric bikes, as well as wider city sentiment on transport, the environment and community.

In LA, for instance, Doubleday & Cartwright worked with Lime's global content and brand director, Stacey Kawahata, to riff on the idea that LA is “72 suburbs in search of a city”, and therefore is in need of a transport system to prevent further fragmentation and connect its neighborhoods and the cultures they house.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Buzzman boldly addressed frustrations around Lime’s scooters being dumped around the streets, launching a poster campaign titled ‘Sh*tty Scooters’. Other agencies on the company’s roster include Virtue, Foundry and Anonymous Content.

Stump admits this hyper-local approach is one that is “harder to measure” and “takes more effort and more work” than simply naming a global network as agency of record and trusting it to translate a campaign around the world.

“But if you look at some of the best brands,” he explained, “it actually creates sustainability. It creates a great foundation and I actually think it just leads to greater insight in terms of how you can be relevant and resonate at the local level.”

Such a strategy will be crucial to the success of The Urban Optimist, which will require nothing less than the most authentic ambassadors to sell Lime at a time when attitudes to electronic scooters and bikes are mixed at best.

“The nice thing is because we hire local, we were able to discover really beautiful people through our own networks,” Stump said. “Some [ambassadors] are relatively well-known and some actually aren't.

“But that's also the nice thing: we're not saying, ‘Hey, you have to have a massive social following’. What's really important to us is that they have impact in their community.”

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