LESSONS FROM AN INFLUENCER CAMPAIGN
Our Social Media Executive, Ornella, followed a group of influencers around New York City to discover the inspiration behind two iconic timepieces from the Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry company.
As I entered the plane that would take me to this journey in New York, I questioned myself: “How strong is the relation between Ralph Lauren and New York”. It might seem easy to see what links the brand with the city; its namesake, Mr. Ralph Lauren, was born there. However, I knew that there was more to it than a birth place. The brand had chosen this location to bring to life the heart and soul of the brand, and I would soon discover what that implied.
To help me during this quest, eight influencers carefully selected by DLG (Digital Luxury Group) and Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry to embody this idea. The idea that something deeper lies between Ralph Lauren and the city that never sleeps.
Day one was a little like starting school: a mix of excitement and nerves. Everything was a first for the brand. First time meeting the influencers face-to-face, first photoshoot, first New York tour, and importantly their first large scale influencer campaign. And I got to witness it all.
I sat amongst the “content celebrities” as we affectionately call them, and it all began.
After the influencers and their photographers were briefed on the schedule for the day and what was expected of them, they finally got to see the products. I learned one of my first lessons at that moment: getting to physically touch, feel and actually wear the product is one of the most integral parts of the process. As they tried on each model, the group happily discussed what they liked and how it felt on the wrist.
Some said that they were happy to discover that Ralph Lauren was also crafting watches, others said – in true New York spirit – that Ralph Lauren had always been one of their favorite brands. That was one of my next lessons in influencer marketing: when you work with influencers, the natural relationship with them and the brand is key, as that is what will trigger their creative spirit. Strict guidelines and rules can crush their creativity. These “do and do not’s” are likely to force these creative minds into a mold instead of allowing them the freedom to have an original take on their brand, or a new perspective. After all, if one decides to work with an influencer, it should not solely be the number of followers, but because of the values they share with their brand. This detail will make an influencer campaign a success, or a failure.
One – amongst many – proof to this statement came early that day. I really understood the impact and the process that goes behind each picture when we stepped into the Let There Be Neon atelier. The bright lights of the artistic and oh-so-famous neons designed and created by this NYC institution reminded us of the golden age of Broadway. In a second, you are surrounded by New York’s DNA, by the art, design, and architecture, that comes into action in Mr. Lauren’s ideation process.
At that moment, Salomon – aka @ducdubois – and his crew felt inspired and started shooting. Without any of us expecting it, they grabbed a ladder, climbed on it, took a neon phone, and that was it. We had our first lifestyle shot. It wasn’t difficult, nor complicated, it felt natural. For the ordinary, it was like getting to see a masterpiece created right in front of you. This, is the definition of creativity and another lesson learned: creativity is what you should expect from the right influencer for your brand.
As day one ended, I could already feel I was closer to finding the answer I was looking for. It was there, inside of each New Yorker, inside of each building, of each piece of history that made New York. We strolled around the city for the rest of the day celebrating a first collaboration until the city lights lit up.
Like a new dawn brings a new day, a new day brings new influencers. Next lesson: thinking of influencers as being all the same is the biggest mistake most brands make. Like their aesthetics are unique, their personalities reflect onto their feeds. You can have crazy creatives, down-to-earth marketers in power, or emotional storytellers. For these two days, the team had planned on visiting several different places. This would ensure that everybody could find and use their own voice during the tour.
One of the locations on day two was an unplanned pit-stop that ended up as a beautiful backdrop. Another lesson here; be flexible! We stopped at the Ludlow Hotel for a rest and glass of water, but after a few minutes the familiar sound of camera lenses clicking started again.
The scenery inside is magical, with raw red-stone walls, art-deco metal structures – a strong inspiration for Mr. Lauren. The typical New York vibe you experience when you first step foot on the city’s streets. It wasn’t planned, but our team of four influencers quietly started shooting with their team, and soon we were once again in the middle of a natural photoshoot. The important part here, is to be flexible. They got the brief, they know the places we’ll take them to. But we adapted on the day to the influencers and their needs. And in the end, we let them do their own thing when it felt right. If you force it, it will not only cause frustration, but you will also have a content that doesn’t feel organic. My last lesson of the day was this one: it has to be genuine to really reach their target. And they know their target better than any brand.
That’s when I understood the most important lesson of all: working with influencers is not just a nice “add-on” to the brand’s communication. It’s about getting a new creative perspective. In a way we allowed them to take control of the campaign. It was giving them the art-deco and New York’s design inspiration speech and let them turn it into it their own piece of content.
For this campaign between Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry and Moyer Fine Jewelers, it was about taking the essence of Ralph Lauren watches and answering the question “what makes New York?” through the influencer’s eye. The idea was to subtly educate a wider audience, so they too would know what is Ralph Lauren’s inspiration, without having to actually explain it. In just two days, those talented Instagramers created enough content to bring to life the link between the city and the brand. An intangible correlation where each timepiece, each creation, breathes New York.
The “inspiration tour” came to a beautiful end that day, but the relationship between the brand and the influencers, as well as the relationship between the brand and the influencers’ followers, was just beginning.
In 2008, two iconic luxury companies, Ralph Lauren Corp. and Richemont, joined forces and created the Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry Company. The two companies work in harmony to design, manufacture and distribute luxury watches and fine jewelry through selected Ralph Lauren boutiques and the finest watch and jewelry retailers in the world.
The watch collections feature the high-quality Swiss-Made manufacture movements and Ralph Lauren’s most iconic inspirations. The 867 and RL888 collections are both inspired by New York Art Deco style that embodies an elegant sophistication. Which names are inspired by the women’s 888 and men’s 867 flagship stores at Madison Avenue in New York City.
New York city is an integral part of the Ralph Lauren story. The birthplace and childhood home of Ralph Lauren himself and the location of two flagship stores.
New York city architecture, art and music are part of the designers inspiration, and the magic of the city is housed within each timepiece.
Special thanks to Chris Lee – @theotherchrislee if not the only one worth mentioning – and Dayo Kosoko – aka @thearthype from @shootingwithshooters – and @jakeirish for documenting this campaign with their gorgeous photographs and videos. To our 8 influencers: @ducdubois, @stevenonoja, @cheraleelyle, @howdoyouwearthat, @cassdimicco, @ryanstylesnyc @karenbritchick and @philvalles. Kudos to Genna Meredith for helping make this possible. And finally thanks to all the people involved somehow in this campaign, Allison, Farasha, Britta, Jim, Guillaume, Moyer Fine Jewelers and many more.