Inside Dior’s first micro-influencer campaign

With luxury brands finally coming around to influencer marketing (73 percent of luxury brands are now utilizing the tactic, according to a 2017 report by Fashion and Beauty Monitor), Dior is taking a unique approach by going after micro-influencers, who theoretically drive more engagement.

Influencer marketing is the new norm, widely adopted by fashion brands outside of the luxury space. However, it’s not without its problems. One brand concern is a lack of control, as most influencers would rather not be told what to do by a company. What’s more, the going rate for a social star’s post is typically directly related to their follower count: Influencers with 500,000 to 1 million followers across social platforms expect $5,000-$10,000 per post, on average.

Dior managed to dodge such concerns with its latest launch under Parfums Christian Dior, for which it teamed with Whalar, a London-based influencer marketing platform. The campaign incorporated detailed briefs and carefully selected influencers, all with under 500,000 followers, in addition to more common celebrity ambassadors.

Centered on the #DiorLoveChain hashtag, the campaign is a charitable initiative benefitting WE Charity: Every time the hashtag is shared on social media — along with an accompanying visual answering, “What would you do for love?” — Dior donates $1 to the organization, established to end poverty among children and provide schooling for girls in Kenya.

Participating celebs included Natalie Portman, Robert Pattinson, Rihanna and Bella Hadid, which were featured in a video promoting the campaign and joined in on the social sharing. Whalar chose a pool of global creator influencers to add to the mix, which “shook things up,” according to a Dior representative. They included London-based Shini Park (@parkncube), 64-year-old Lyn Slater (@iconaccidental) and artist Sang Woo Kim (@sangwo0).

“Working with influencers is not yet typical for luxury brands, which is what’s so exciting about this campaign,” said Neil Waller, co-founder of Whalar. “It’s quite brave for Dior.”

Despite the industry’s slow move to influencer marketing, the partnership wasn’t exactly a hard sell. According to Waller, Dior was mainly interested in knowing the brands Whalar had teamed with in the past (which include Farfetch and Adidas) and the results it had seen, plus the process involved in working together. He said the fact that someone on Dior’s social team was an influencer himself helped clinch the deal. “That gave them confidence in the process and helped them understand the opportunity.”

A #DiorLoveChain post by micro-influencer Shini Park

“Our house muses and faces kicked off the campaign. Our influencers were then activated as the second wave,” said Akash Mehta, head of earned media at Dior Global. “You could tell they all love and cherish their followers, which enabled the Dior Love Chain to resonate and start strong.”

Mehta said another key to the campaign’s success was “allowing the influencers to have control during their content creation and letting their creativity flow without restriction.”

Waller agreed that was a smart move and, based on his experience, a safe bet: “These creative professionals have ideas, and they go about their work with a level of pride and creativity. They have proven themselves. Luxury brands wouldn’t get involved with something if the professionalism wasn’t apparent. It would just be too risky.”

A #DiorLoveChain post by micro-influencer Beatrice Gutu

However, some direction is necessary to maintain such professionalism and ensure brands get what they want.

Today, Waller said, influencer campaigns are more like collaborations. As opposed to the past, when they resembled “the Wild West,” there’s a formal process involved that incorporates a creative brief, complete with a mood board. Whalar’s job is to facilitate that process. For the Dior Love Chain brief, Dior provided the framework.

“Influencers love a brief,” Waller said. “That way, they can decide if the project’s for them, and they’re very clear on what to do.”

Along with the brief, he said “matchmaking,” or choosing the right influencers, is crucial — and that it’s hard to go wrong with influencers who reflect the audience that a brand’s talking to, which drove Dior’s influencer selection.

According to Blanaid Kenny, associate director at Whalar, since launching on August 26, the campaign has generated more than 31,000 Dior-approved posts and has reached 16.6 million people. Based on its success, Dior has plans for a second #DiorLoveChain activation in 2018.

“What impressed Dior was just the consistency of the creativity and the high quality of the influencers,” Waller said.

And Dior wasn’t the only one impressed. “The beauty of social media is people see these things and then they go, ‘Maybe we should be doing this, as well,’” Waller said. “It sent some waves through the market, and I think it will be seen as a reference point for the [luxury] industry.”

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