Influencer Marketing with Maximus

Ok, this is a bit of a long-winded explanation, but it does get onto marketing eventually. I promise.

For my birthday this year, one of the presents I received from my girlfriend was a poster of the 100 greatest films of all time. After I got over the shock of Mean Girls being included on this list, we agreed that we would watch them together and work our way through this pantheon of cinematic masterpieces. And Mean Girls.

One film I was looking forward to rewatching was Gladiator, one of my favourites. Typically, my girlfriend gets bored halfway through films, so I was glad to have the power of the poster to force her to sit through Maximus’ battle with Joaquin Phoenix.

Watching Russell Crowe fight his way through tigers, chariots and Gauls in the Colosseum, my thoughts took me down a slightly unexpected route — influencer marketing.

Commodus and Maximus are essentially in the influencer marketing industry fighting a PR battle (SPOILER ALERT: as well as an actual battle).

Influencer marketing is a very powerful trend within the marketing industry and is expected to be worth over $10bn by next year.

The role of influencers in marketing has entered into mainstream consciousness after the role played by influencers in the promotion of the infamous Fyre festival. It’s a trend that is likely to become even more popular in the near future with 59% of marketers planning to increase their influencer spend in 2019 according to the Digital Marketing Institute. There is a huge amount of debate about whether social media influencers should take responsibility for their promoted posts and the role they have in product or service promotion.

Influencers can have a huge effect in society, whether its persuading rich teenagers to buy tickets to a ‘luxury’ music festival, or turning the tide of opinion against an evil Roman Cesaer. According to a recent survey, 60% of teenagers follow recommendations from social media influencers over ‘traditional’ celebrities. Access to the attention of a large number of people is a very powerful tool and should be used responsibly.

In the influencer battle between Maximus and Commodus, good was always going to triumph over evil because it’s a film and a work of fiction. But in marketing messaging terms, Maximus Decimus Meridius had a much stronger and more genuine message that he was promoting. The influence he was promoting was reflective of his brand (killing the Emperor and generally being honourable).

Commodus, on the other hand, was promoting himself as a man of the people whilst simultaneously dissolving the Senate, removing people’s rights and selling the grain reserves. This is similar to an influencer promoting something that is clearly removed from their personal brand — remember when Sir Bradley Wiggins said he wouldn’t put his Mother in a Skoda, despite being a brand ambassador? Disingenuous brand messages will always be found out, especially in an age when your brand image is at the very least part-owned by the public thanks to social media.

If you are looking to enter into the influencer marketing sphere to promote your brand, and it is definitely a great idea in 2019, not only do almost half of consumers rely on the recommendations of influencers, but 40% bought something after seeing it on social media. Food for thought.

You may think that your industry couldn’t benefit from working with influencers. You might be surprised. Cleaning products (and products further up the supply chain) have seen a huge increase following the popularity of Mrs Hinch and her army who have a passion for cleaning. Ancestry websites are also exploring the power of influencers, using them to promote the thrill of uncovering your family tree and retracing your ancestor's footsteps — maybe they fought in the arena? With a bit of ingenuity and creativity, you can harness the power of influencers.

If consumers feel confident about an influencer’s recommendation, they are more likely to make a purchase. Brands are able to piggyback on the trust of influencers.

Right, I’m off to watch Mean Girls.