A throaty 600 horsepower muscle car, daredevil driver, and loads of next level tech gadgetry. What sounds like a Dom Toretto movie scene from Fast and the Furious, is actually the latest all-digital, YouTube marketing campaign from motor oil giant, Castrol. And instead of a muscle-bound Vin Diesel welding a steel pipe, Castrol’s sponsored influencer marketing video features Austin Evans (a YouTuber star known for his PC and tech reviews) with Oculus’ virtual reality helmet.
Last year, Castrol launched their 2014 Titanium Drift Blackout video to the tune of over 8 million views. Their creative marketing approach to leveraging YouTube as a publishing platform for their own content distribution and brand engagement joins several other notable brands who have begun a major shift away from traditional TV and print advertising over to online video and social platforms. Instead of being an official sponsor at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Nike opted to craft a digital short specifically for YouTube as part of their digital marketing strategy. Greg Hoffman, Vice President of Global Brand Creative and Experience, Nike, explains to Fast Company how the inspirational apparel and footwear company desired not only have the traditional “big moment” spotlight that’s commonly associated with big budget TV advertising, but also pioneer a way to capture that visibility and “sustain that heat throughout the month.” Nike’s digital short “The Last Game” accomplished both objectives with over 83 million views and massive brand engagement.
In order to share the tech side of the story, Castrol partnered with top YouTube influencer Austin Evans to build targeted brand awareness within the tech vertical niche. By partnering with Evans on their influencer marketing strategy, Castrol gained both brand exposure (amassing close to 180K views in 5 days) and spirited engagement (over 600 comments and close to 9K likes) through Evans’ nearly one million YouTube subscribers. Evans, who comments that this was his largest influencer collaboration to date, gave audiences his tech review accompanied with a high octane virtual reality joyride: Evans sits shotgun while pro driver, Matt Powers, drifts totally blind to the real world while wearing Oculus’ virtual reality helmet. Once the Castrol ride along is done, it’s evident that Evans is completely floored by the experience as he struggles and stammers to put words together on how he felt.
YouTube Influencer Austin Evans’ reaction after riding in Castrol’s virtual reality world.
Castrol’s Virtual Drift marketing campaign is an exemplary part of the new, fast-moving trend of top brands shifting what was traditionally TV dollars towards smart digital integrations, online video marketing, and partnering with YouTube influencers. Just a week prior to the launch of Castrol and Evans’ influencer marketing campaign, Wall Street Journal senior editor Mike Shields posed the question whether big broadcast networks need to be charting a YouTube Influencer strategy. Shields profiles Kris Magel, CIO of the global media and investment agency Initiative — Magel, who “oversees billions in media buying budgets for a number of top advertisers, including Amazon, Hyundai, Kia, MillerCoors, Papa Johns, and Snapple” states that “it’s not enough to put their TV shows on various Web platforms like Hulu and Roku and feel like they’ve checked the digital box. ‘They need to invest in programmers who are creating multi-screen presences with unique followings.’”
With nearly 60% of marketers planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets within the next year, brands are recognizing the immense value and ROI driven by digital influencers like Austin Evans. As the #VirtualDrift campaign continues to unfold, gain new consumer affinity with Millennials, and generate targeted marketing insight, it’s difficult to forecast which other brands will join Castrol, Nike, and many other industry leaders who are experiencing impressive results within the online video marketing sphere. However, it is a sure bet that out of the hundreds of thousands of gamers, techies, and YouTubers who see, like and comment on Evans’ video, they’ll probably reach first for Castrol motor oil. Mission accomplished.