Case Study: Away Influencer Marketing Campaign Takes Flight With Inspiring Travelog Content


Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Influencers #TravelAway With Affordable Luggage Brand, Away

Travel brand, Away, has been hugely successful at disrupting the luggage industry with its direct-to-consumer suitcases and travel goods. After a recent Series D investment round, the New York-based baggage enterprise was valued at an estimated at $1.4 billion.

Away has taken several novel approaches to enlivening a stale and steady marketplace. One of these has been its use of influencer marketing, which has given the brand a strong following on social media. A finalist for the Shorty Awards Best Overall Instagram Presence two years in a row, Away’s Instagram account is now approaching half a million followers

Away Influencer Marketing Packs Its Bags With Travel-Savvy Instagrammers

Partnership with celebrities like Dwyane Wade, as well as prominent travel and lifestyle influencers, have signaled that Away isn’t a typical luggage brand. The #TravelAway hashtag that accompanies much of Away’s Instagram content even appears within the company’s product packaging.

Away’s influencer collaborations have also inspired a stream of user-generated content, adding to more than 58,000 Instagram posts tagged with #TravelAway.


  • Raise awareness around the Away brand and its line of luggage and travel accessories.
  • Encourage engagement and user-generated content through Away influencer marketing posts.


  • Channel – Instagram
  • Influencers – Away influencer marketing worked with travel, lifestyle, and fashion personalities from around the world. Of the 13 influencers sampled, two were male and 11 were female. Seven were mid-tier influencers, while five were micro-influencers, and one was a macro-influencer.

Preview Of Influencers


  • Backdrops for the sampled posts ranged from outdoor destinations, to hotel rooms, to transportation spots and beyond.
  • Away’s products took center stage in some of the posts, while others incorporated the luggage in a more subtle way.
  • Twelve of the Away influencer marketing posts were single-photo, while one was a multi-image post that included a video.
  • All but one influencer tagged @away in their posts, and the majority denoted sponsorship via hashtags #ad and/or #sponsored, with a few using the more vague term “gifted.”
  • #TravelAway was the dominant campaign hashtag, while a small number of influencers used #awaytravel and one influencer used #travelwithaway.


Combined Results [13 sampled posts]

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 1,691,100


  • Likes: 58,089
  • Comments: 1,090
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 5.22%

Phil Cohen Lays Out His Stylish Travel Wardrobe

Art director and style aficionado, Phil Cohen, is a 2017 Shorty Awards fashion nominee with 747,000 followers on Instagram. One of two male influencers in the campaign, Cohen was the only macro-influencer and the most-followed Instagram personality of those sampled.

In his trademark aesthetic, Cohen’s #TravelAway post featured Away’s The Weekender bag among a neatly-organized layout of clothing. Describing some of the bag’s hidden features in the caption, Cohen referred followers to his Stories and the link in his bio for more details.

Cohen’s post received 11,354 likes and 98 comments, generating an engagement rate of 1.53%. The image simultaneously yielded the most likes and lowest engagement rate among the sampled posts.

Hegia de Boer Brings Her Followers On A Journey

The Netherlands-based, Hegia de Boer is a mid-tier influencer who broadcasts to 96,700 followers on Instagram. With a background in architecture, Hegia offers classical design and fashion content throughout her meticulously-curated feed.

Hegia also highlighted The Weekender duffle in her #TravelAway post, featuring two images and one video. The sequenced portrait showcased the bag in different settings and situations, making the content play like a mini-travelog.

With an impressive 10,585 likes, Hegia’s post received the most comments in the campaign at 261, and had the highest engagement rate at 11.22%.

Fatima Abdallah Highlights Travel Ease and Versatility

New York-based Fatima Abdallah is a mid-tier fashion and lifestyle influencer who offers more than just trendsetting images to her 111,000 Instagram followers. A social advocate, Fatima encourages fans to “embrace what makes you different” in her bio, while also including a fundraising link to aid Syrian refugees.

Fatima’s #TravelAway post also featured Away’s The Weekender bag. Pictured at a train station with an on-the-go vibe, Fatima’s post is an organic-feeling alternative to some of the other more polished and stylized photos from the campaign. In her caption, Fatima also departs from highlighting the duffle’s material features in favor of recommending the bag for various kinds of journeys and travel.

With 3,161 likes and 41 comments, Fatima’s post garnered an engagement rate of 2.88%.

Bayley Junes And Oly Take to the Road

Bayley June Stevenson—Bayley Junes on Instagram—is a lifestyle photographer and videographer based in the Pacific Northwest. With 17,100 fans to her Instagram, Bayley June was had the least number of followers among sampled influencers.

For her #TravelAway post, Bayley June snapped a photo of a traveling companion next to an Away duffle bag in the back of her Volkswagen Westfalia. Mentioning how much she enjoyed road-tripping with others (and her Vanagon “Oly”), Bayley Junes ended her caption by crediting The Weekender with helping her to stay organized.

While Bayley Junes was the least-followed Instagrammer for Away’s influencer marketing campaign, the lifestyle influencer received 1,228 likes and 27 comments, which produced a higher-than-average engagement rate of 7.34%.


  • Away influencer marketing has found a way to turn product photos into captivating content.
  • Campaigns with a strong theme can utilize a wide range of influencers without seeming unfocused or wayward.
  • The size of an influencer isn’t necessarily indicative of the number of likes or comments a post will receive.
  • Posts that tell a story have the potential to create higher engagement.

Case Study: Hulu Influencers “Sell Out” In Blunt Influencer Marketing Stunt

hulu influencers

Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Hulu Influencers Turned Professional Sellouts

Cable is on the way out—the declining consumption of television media has been a familiar topic for several years at this point. Streaming services have been relentlessly picking up the slack in their endeavors to get a foothold in what is now a booming market, with Netflix leading the way, of course.

Who else wants to muscle their way into the scene? Answer: pretty much every media conglomerate with a checkbook. Disney, Apple, Facebook, and DC Entertainment are all in deep with launching or expanding services this year; while WarnerMedia, Walmart, and NBC all have projects in the pipeline to compete in what will no doubt become a saturated market before long.

No surprise then that Hulu, the world’s third-largest service, is looking to put their case to consumers and gain as much ground as possible this year in a bid to catch up with Netflix and Amazon—the two big players in the market.

hulu influencers hulu has live sports

With an increase of 8 million subscribers in 2018, Hulu has been outpacing Netflix’s growth in the US and the gains are impressive. This year, they want to solidify those gains and double down on their marketing push for live TV streaming.

Hulu Influencer Marketing Campaign Calls It Like It Is

With 399,000 followers, Hulu’s Instagram following is somewhat dwarfed by Netflix (15 million), making the involvement of a wide range of influencers—some with mid-tier followings all the way up to mega-influencers with more than 1  million followers—a sensible choice for a campaign from a large network.

Their campaign centers around the hashtag #HuluSellouts, a self-aware tag designed to be upfront with audiences about endorsements—with a strong element of humor, of course. This is just the latest effort for Hulu, which last year launched a similarly ambitious advertising campaign, rolling out ads that matched the themes of select original programming, beginning with sci-fi series The First.

Beginning the campaign with NBA stars Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Hulu sought to primarily push their live TV service, particularly live sports—hence the athletes involved.

hulu influencers

The current ‘sell-outs’ campaign was created by Big Family Table with plans for it to run for the duration of 2019, with various sports stars involved making many #paid appearances. The US women’s national soccer team created buzz in anticipation for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.


  • Drive awareness of Hulu’s live sports offerings
  • Spread word among sports audiences that may not consider streaming services as an option
  • Promote positive brand engagement by using an atypical, humorous, and eye-catching campaign


  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencers: NBA and Women’s National Soccer Team athletes
    • 11 soccer stars from the women’s 2019 World Cup team, 8 men’s NBA basketball players for a total of
    • 19 influencers
    • 9 mid-tier, 6 macro-tier, and 4 mega-influencers

Preview Of Influencers



View this post on Instagram

Time to add another 🏆 to the collection. USA! USA! USA! 🇺🇸 #FIFAWWC

A post shared by Hulu (@hulu) on


  • Hashtag use among influencers was consistent: #HuluHasLiveSports; #TeamHuluSellouts; #HuluSellouts; #ad; #HuluHasLiveSportsChallenge; #obviously—all featured prominently in the campaign
  • Almost every woman soccer player in the campaign uploaded four pieces of content—captions across posts followed the same or very similar templates
  • For the men’s posts, each uploaded video featured them at a mock Hulu press conference, having money thrown at them each time they said ‘Hulu has live sports’
  • The basketball players typically uploaded fewer posts, with the most being Lillard with three


View this post on Instagram

I get paid to finish at the rim😂 #huluhaslivesports #Off$ea$on Workouts #HuluSellouts #ad

A post shared by De’Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) on

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 17,118,200


  • Likes: 1,406,595
  • Comments: 10,480
  • Views: 5,118,339
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 5.71%

Josh Okogie Makes It Rain

Minnesota Timberwolves player Josh Okogie is our first influencer to examine. One of the smaller examples, with a mid-tier following of 69K, the 20-year-old is featured at a faux conference. After signing a ‘contract’ money is thrown at him every time he says ‘Hulu has live sports’ in a humorous stunt.

View this post on Instagram

Hulu’s paying me every time I say “Hulu has Live Sports.” #hulusellouts #neversellout #exceptforhulu #huluhaslivesports #hulupaidme #sponseredpost #ad

A post shared by Josh Okogie (@callme_nonstop) on

Okogie’s post had the highest engagement on a post in the campaign with 19.69%. His metrics were similar to fellow player Khris Middleton, who starred in an identical video for his part and has 100K more followers. With 68,610 views, 13,351 likes, 253 comments, Okogie’s engagement rate was the highest of the campaign so far.

Emily Sonnett Shows Off Ball Juggling Skills

National women’s soccer team player Emily Sonnett engaged in a four-post campaign. Her highest-performing upload featured her juggling a soccer ball (with coffee in-hand) in the street while saying the campaign phrase.

Her caption embraced the humorous campaign message, declaring that she’s selling out and endorsing a Hulu charity donation scheme by mimicking her performance and posting their own videos. With 80,078 views, 11,312 likes, and 71 comments, Sonnett achieved her highest engagement rate of 13.54% with this upload. It’s also worth noting that Sonnett can boast the highest everyday engagement (12%, via SocialBlade) on Instagram out of all her teammates.

Joel Embiid Signs The Dotted Line On Sponsorship Contract

Embiid boasts the second-largest following of any of the influencers. He posted an image of himself with a prop Hulu sponsorship contract, with his name signed as ‘Joel “Hulu has live sports” Embiid’. His post features all the expected campaign hashtags and remains consistent with brand captioning found across most of the posts.

With humor the main component once again, Embiid uploaded two posts, the better performing of which the highest amount of likes and comments of anyone in the campaign so far. This is especially impressive considering he has 2.3M fewer followers than Lillard. With 220,577 likes and comments, he garnered an engagement rate of 6.36%, an impressive watermark for any mega-influencer.

Tobin Heath Has A Suitcase Full Of Cash

Next up is Sonnett’s club and national teammate Tobin Heath, who featured for Hulu in a quick ad of her opening a suitcase full of cash in her hotel room, along with a slightly more personalized caption saying she bleeds ‘red, white, blue, and GREEN.’

View this post on Instagram

As of today, I bleed red, white, blue, and GREEN. Because Hulu is paying me to 💵 #HuluHasLiveSports #TeamHuluSellouts #HuluSellouts #ad #obviously

A post shared by tobin powell heath (@tobinheath) on

Heath has a substantial following of over half a million on Instagram, and all four of her sponsored posts performed well, with only one falling below 5% engagement. With 262,494 views, 44,903 likes, and 481 comments, she snapped up and engagement high of 8.83%.

Damian Lillard Gets Inked (Not Really)

Damian Lillard, the influencer for the campaign with the largest Instagram following of nearly 6M, starred in a notably high-production upload of the standard of a TV commercial. It featured him going to a tattoo parlor to have ‘Hulu has live sports’ inked on his arm, with a funny caption that said as much.

For his part in the campaign, Lillard posted three uploads to Instagram, all staying on-message with the campaign—all of them performing relatively poorly. This video, despite the obvious production quality, only achieved an engagement rate of 0.39%. His best-performing post, an image of him holding a Hulu sponsorship contract, got 75,859 likes and 812 comments for an engagement rate of 1.32%.


  • The soccer players had a higher average engagement rate with a 5.87% average across 43 posts
  • The basketball players had a slightly lower average of 5.18% (13 posts)
  • Smaller influencers, in general, once again showed that they can provide better engagement rates than their larger peers; though with fewer likes, comments, and views overall
  • Using mega-influencers can be hit-or-miss, depending on the campaign and the influencer, demonstrated by Embiid’s successful posts and Lillard’s low performance

Case Study: PlayStation Influencers Plug Into Virtual Reality Headset


Instagram & YouTube Influencer Marketing Case Study: PlayStation Marketing Teams Up With Tech & Gaming Influencers

For the most part, influencer marketing and gaming go hand-in-hand. Leading gaming influencers—whether they’re Twitch streamers, YouTubers, or stars at the top of professional esports—are becoming centerpieces of influence in a booming market. Gaming influencers are trusted by their fans to a strong degree, making them perfect candidates for brand endorsements.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed, least of all by brands and marketers looking to tap into that all-important Millennial demographic. You don’t need to look far to find influencers and creators of all disciplines being employed to promote various brands, from mobile games to chocolate to underwear.


PlayStation generally has its finger on the pulse when it comes to marketing and is no stranger to influencer marketing. With 18 million followers on its main Instagram and 38,000 followers on its regional Canadian account, it makes perfect sense to leverage the following and garner some positive engagement for the brand.

PlayStation Marketing Goes Small To Hit Big With Gaming Community

With buzz surrounding the announcement that Sony is currently working on a new gaming console to succeed the PS4, maintaining goodwill within the gaming community will be a major objective in the run-up to any potential launch.

PlayStation VR, the company’s flagship virtual reality headset, remains high on the agenda as the company’s most important periphery. This campaign, aimed exclusively at a Canadian audience, leveraged smaller-tiered influencers—often employed by brands because of their propensity to drive higher relative engagement rates—to head up their push.



  • Increase awareness of the PlayStation VR headset
  • Drive engagement with its regional Canadian account
  • Use tech influencers to bridge the gap between tech audiences and gamers


  • Channels: Instagram and Youtube
  • Influencers: Canadian tech and gaming influencers, including mid-tier, micro-, and nano-influencers.

Preview Of Influencers


In keeping with longtime campaign messages that PlayStation has employed for several years, the themes of this effort reflect an emphasis on gamers and positive gaming experiences with their products:


  • With the exception of one, all the influencers uploaded two posts for the campaign.
  • All but one of the posts were images, with one short, looped video being the exception.
  • Influencers used the hashtags #PlayStationVR, #ITriedPSVR, and #PSVR, while also tagging @PlayStationCA.
  • Each marked their posts as #sponsored or #ad or used Instagram’s paid partnership tag.
  • Captions ranged from short blurbs showing off the headset to longer captions featuring brief VR game reviews.


Combined Results: 9 posts total

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 200,894
  • YouTube subscribers targeted: 941,882

Instagram Engagement

  • Likes: 12,728
  • Comments: 230
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 3.64%

YouTube Engagement

  • Views: 28,322
  • Likes: 1,324
  • Comments: 368
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 3.19%

Karl Conrad Shows Off Snazzy System

Karl Conrad, a YouTuber boasting half a million subscribers on the platform, is known for his vlogs demonstrating all kinds of tech—from phones to TVs to laptops. In his highest-performing Instagram post, Conrad shows fans a custom orange PS4 with a VR headset in full view.


In the caption, he praises the large catalog of games available to him and asks his 72,000 followers what their favorite VR game is. He incorporates all the associated PlayStation tags, in addition to an #ad tag at the beginning. He garnered 3,490 likes and 117 comments for an impressive engagement rate of 5%.

Tyler Stalman Imagines Childlike Wonder

Tyler Stalman, a professional photographer approaching 200,000 followers on YouTube, is a tech vlogger who places an emphasis on reviewing camera gear in addition to hosting his own podcast.


In his post, Stalman wonders what his 12-year-old self would have thought of the VR headset in a positive reflection of the tech. He again uses the hashtags consistent with campaign along with a #sponsored tag. Stalman got 2,536 likes and 19 comments from his 53,200 Instagram followers for an engagement rate of 4.8%.

The Girly Geek Straps On VR For Fans

The Girly Geek, also known as Erin, is a writer and blogger is a nano-influencer with an Instagram following of just under 10,000. She frequently posts about games and gaming culture for her fans.


Her post features her trying out the VR with a copy of Skyrim in-hand. Her caption, like the others, is personalized, with her talking about enjoying the experience she’s had playing the game in VR. She is consistent with the campaign hashtags and singles out @PlayStationCA with a ‘thank-you.’ With 354 likes and 17 comments, she accrued an engagement rate of 3.8%.

Conrad Shows Subscribers Custom Setup In YouTube Vlog

Two of the influencers took the campaigns to their YouTube channels (the other being Justin Tse), with Karl Conrad giving his fans a vlog about his custom PlayStation and his VR setup.

He again touted the extensive library and mentioned the sponsorship with PlayStation, linking to the official VR site page. With 500,000 subscribers, his view count for the video of 9,725 is relatively low. It’s worth noting, however, that the total likes and comments on the video was 890, meaning an engagement rate among viewers of the video of 9.2%. In terms of average video views though, he performed well under his normal range of 50,000 views per video.


  • PlayStation marketing primarily employed tech and gaming influencers for the campaign to garner interest in their flagship piece of gaming tech.
  • PlayStation influencers were all mid-tier or lower, suggesting an attempt by PlayStation to drive solid engagement at a smaller scale than larger influencer marketing campaigns.
  • Tech influencers often have strong authority among fans for their knowledge of peripheries, making them the ideal cheerleaders for PlayStation’s VR set campaign.
  • Cross-channel promotion on Instagram and YouTube proved to be valuable in showcasing the PlayStation VR to a wider and more varied audience.

Case Study: All Eyes On Oakley Influencers


Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Styled Out Oakley Influencers Ask Followers “What Do You See?”

Instagram’s visually robust design has been a boon for athletes looking to show off their talents. From warm-up routines and training sessions, to competition runs and freestyle lines, to podium placements and bittersweet defeats, athletic images and videos have intrigued, informed, and inspired millions on the platform.

View this post on Instagram

See the future. See it in PRIZM™️. #OakleyPrizm #OneObsession

A post shared by Oakley (@oakley) on

Traditionally used as a type of celebrity endorsement, professional athletes have been a popular means for brands to connect with consumers. Porting over the practice from print, radio, and television, athlete influencers on social media have evolved to include a wide range of individuals from different sports’ disciplines and influencer tiers.

Oakley Marketing Gazes Into The Future With New PRIZM Push

James Jannard started Oakley in 1975, selling motocross grips out of his car at local events. The company expanded into BMX, eventually launching functional goggles as its first piece of eyewear in 1980. Four years later, Oakley introduced the iconic sunglasses that would simultaneously embolden its action sports roots, as well as put the company on the worldwide stage.

Today, prominent athletes from a variety of disciplines can be seen sporting Oakley shades on their Instagram feeds. Ranging from nano-influencers to mega-influencers, Oakley’s own brand ambassadors help to broadcast the company’s products and values to different lifestyle and sporting communities. The Oakley marketing approach also includes an affiliate program that rewards supporters and promoters who generate sales.

oakley influencers

In a recent marketing campaign around lenses “designed to enhance color and contrast” throughout different environments, Oakley partnered with a variety of athletes to introduce their Instagram followers to the company’s novel PRIZM technology.


oakley influencers

  • Create awareness for Oakley’s new PRIZM lenses.
  • Engage with followers by asking, “What do you see?”


  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencers: Among the 15 sampled influencers,Oakley marketing collaborated with athletes from a variety of sport backgrounds, including cycling, motocross, triathlon, volleyball, and surfing.

Preview of Influencers

oakley influencers


oakley influencers

  • Of the 16 sampled posts, all were single images.
  • While some Oakley influencers posted themselves in action, others showcased headshots.
  • All of the images featured the athletes wearing Oakley sunglasses.
  • The influencers created different preambles in their captions that led to variations on the tagline: “I see it in PRIZM. What do you see?”
  • Four of the influencers in the campaign shared exact or similar captions.
  • Each athlete used the hashtags #OakleyPrizm and #OneObsession in his/her post. Many athletes tagged @oakley, while others mentioned accounts such as @oakleybike, @oakleysurfing, and @oakleymotorsports.


Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 4,798,908


  • Likes: 243,579
  • Comments: 1,470
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 7.24%

MotoGO Rider Sees “New Challenges”

One of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, Spain’s Marc Márquez commands a whopping 4 million followers on Instagram. As the largest and only mega-influencer in the PRIZM campaign, Márquez also achieved the most total likes and comments of any Oakley influencer.

Offering a smirk as Márquez looks at his helmet, the seven-time Grand Prix World Champion’s hand and helmet can be seen reflected in his Oakley lenses. His caption notes his eagerness to take on new challenges in his motorcycling career.

oakley influencers

Márquez’s post received 199,266 likes and 1,006 comments, resulting in an engagement rate of 5.01%.

Sprint Cyclist Sees “Opportunity”

For his Oakley PRIZM post, Maldivian cyclist Mark Cavendish sprints ahead during his intense cycling route while wearing a pair of PRIZM sunglasses. Addressing over 540,000 followers, the macro-influencer successfully captures his determination to achieve the top spot.

eoakley influencers

With 22,348 likes and 102 comments, Mark achieved an engagement rate of 4.14% with his Oakley PRIZM sponsored post.

Water Polo Player Sees “What They Can’t”

Alya Nadira is an Indonesian water polo player and micro-influencer with 45,300 followers on Instagram. In her outdoor shot, Nadira’s bright red frames and lenses pop from the screen as she looks back at the camera, while her caption alludes to personal feats and desires unnoticed by others.

oakley influencers

Nadira’s Oakley PRIZM post garnered 4,725 likes and 83 comments, resulting in an engagement rate of 10.64%.


  • Oakley achieved brand authenticity by using athlete influencers who wear and use their products.
  • Oakley marketing’s PRIZM campaign fit well into Instagram’s culture of action and headshots.
  • Templated captions unified the various Oakley influencers across different sports and disciplines.
  • While Oakley marketing’s largest influencer received the most amount of likes and comments, the influencer with the least followers achieved the highest engagement rate.
  • Utilizing different influencers for their campaign, Oakley was able to reach a variety of audiences, as well as gain a range of engagement levels.

Case Study: KFC Influencer Partners With Dr. Pepper, Old Spice, TurboTax, & Casper In #SecretRecipeForSuccess Virtual Campaign


Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: KFC Marketing Goes Virtual With Colonel Sanders As A Spoof On Influencers


In the crowded influencer marketing space, brands are always looking for the next big idea to help lift their heads above the parapet and mark themselves out from the rest. Launching an effective campaign and building a positive consumer relationship is the principal goal of brands on social media. This can be achieved in several ways, including participation marketing, and quite often the product is of lesser importance than the all-important engagement with followers.

Brands are still trying to figure out what constitutes the best strategy for getting through to Instagram’s enormous user base. Large companies commonly attempt a variety of campaigns to garner attention—from more traditional approaches to wackier, eye-catching ideas.

kfc marketing twitch influencer marketing

KFC marketing has often had its finger on the pulse when it comes to social media—for example, advertising on Twitch when other large brands are less aware of the platform’s massive potential. In addition, a quick glance at their Instagram will show that the KFC marketing team is not averse to trying new things when it comes to marketing the brand on to an online audience.

With 1.4 million Instagram followers, KFC is n line with other major fast food brands and gains significant brand exposure online. It’s only natural that KFC’s marketing team should seek to leverage this popularity and build their engagement, demonstrated by the nearly 700 posts on their page. By comparison, major competitor McDonald’s has over 2 million more followers but a more traditional and seemingly far less coherent strategy, posting just 50 times since 2014.

CGI Influencer Takeover Reveals New Side To The KFC Colonel

If you’re unfamiliar with CGI influencers you’ll be forgiven. Appearing since 2016 and gaining prominence thereafter, these virtual influencers—often art projects or digital models to demonstrate fashion pieces—have gained a significant amount of popularity among fans. The most popular, Lil Miquela, boasts over 1.5 million followers; not bad for someone who doesn’t exist.

View this post on Instagram

Check it out, fried chicken fam. Not only did I turn myself into a digital, computer-generated influencer, I also got some ink. The one and only @misterctoons gave me this amazing tattoo. I feel like I am both the canvas and inspiration for this beauty. Always try to inspire like I do when I’m making amazing fried chicken. Inspiration is part of my #secretrecipeforsuccess. Stay tuned to my IG to see more from my virtual life, and I’ll also be dropping some wisdom that I call the #secretrecipeforsuccess to help you achieve your dreams. #secretrecipeforsuccess #likeminded #friedchicken #friedchickentattoo #entrepreneur #behindthecurtain #keys #respect #inspiration #positive #positivethoughts #artistatwork

A post shared by Kentucky Fried Chicken (@kfc) on

Few, however, would have expected a brand like KFC to get in on the action and spawn a CGI influencer of their own. Intended to parody the lifestyle of Instagram influencers, the New Colonel has a virtual model friend, reflects on his life while at the gym, and posts pictures of himself boarding expensive private jets. Of course, each of these is complete with brand sponsorships and nauseatingly on-the-money captions about spiritual awakenings which perfectly spoof some real-life influencers.

The campaign, complete with the tag #secretrecipeforsuccess, ran for two weeks and appears to have come to an end on April 22. Throughout its run, the KFC influencer partnered with Dr Pepper, Old Spice, TurboTax, and Casper, collectively commanding an Instagram following of 830,000 followers.

Opting to go ahead with such an oddball campaign like this shows KFC marketing is willing to test out new creative strategies with cutting edge digital marketing practices to drive their online engagement. Whether it was a success is another question, particularly regarding its popularity among the page’s followers, many of whom struggled to understand the purpose or intended parody of the virtual influencer Sanders.

Let’s take a dive in and see how KFC’s revamped Colonel performed in his inaugural campaign.


  • Drive engagement among Instagram’s predominantly Millennial audience
  • Distinguish KFC from competing brands by using non-traditional marketing
  • Test the effectiveness of new social media marketing techniques with a limited-time campaign


  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencer: CGI influencer (virtual Colonel Sanders)


The predominant theme of the KFC influencer marketing campaign was dictated by its parody of Instagram influencers. KC sought to replicate the voice, tone, and appearance of a real influencer. The quality of the posts are crisp but amateur, and captions often feature long-winded motivational themes, complete with the campaign hashtag #secretrecipeforsuccess.

View this post on Instagram

#ad On the eagle aka the big chicken aka my private jet. Just finished my taxes… And got a refund! Thanks to @turbotax 🙌 Tax day is coming up, so you better get on yours too. I used TurboTax Live and so should you. Real CPAs and EAs help you with your taxes from basically anywhere. From the comfort of your couch or if you’re waiting for a private jet. Lol. They’ve got tax experts ready to answer all your tax questions. That got me and my media guy Brian thinking that we should do an AMA ‘cause I’ve got all this time on my hands now thanks to TurboTax Live. My AMA will kinda be like how TurboTax Live answered my questions about my taxes. But I can’t help you with taxes. I can just answer important questions about chicken and life. Being willing to take good advice from experts is part of the #secretrecipeforsuccess. #adultingwins #taxday #heresyourchance #ama #secretrecipeforsuccess #turbotax #taxes #friedchicken #friedchickentattoo #advice #success #entrepreneur #behindthecurtain #keys #jetlife #thebigchicken #respect #inspiration #positive #positivethoughts #artistatwork #brian #guru #worktravel #workfromanywhere #influencerlife

A post shared by Kentucky Fried Chicken (@kfc) on

  • Posts often feature brand sponsorships
  • Overarching themes of spirituality and positivity
  • Parodies of real-life influencers and their presentation on social media


Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 1.4 million


  • Likes: 130,234
  • Comments: 2,504
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 1.35%

‘Gazing Pensively Out The Window’ With A Dr. Pepper In Hand

In one of several sponsored posts with Dr. Pepper, CGI Colonel plugs the soda brand with a post of him gazing out the window of a private jet while sipping from a flute glass and donning his famous white suit.

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Having an ice-cold @DrPepper #ad while I gaze pensively out the window with a fresh perspective on the world. Always take time to be quiet and reflect, especially when you can get a new perspective on the world. It’s a big part of the #secretrecipeforsuccess. It’s so important to take the time to get a new perspective. Like when you’re super high in the air and the earth looks real small. #secretrecipeforsuccess #drpepper #imapepper #privatejet #reflecting #grateful #grateful365 #humbled #friedchicken #friedchickentattoo #advice #success #entrepreneur #behindthecurtain #keys #respect #inspiration #positive #positivethoughts #artistatwork #reflectiongram #blessed #travel #virtualcolonel

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The caption is humorous, with a recommendation that fans take time to reflect and gain a new perspective on the world: ‘Like when you’re super high in the air and the world looks real small.’ The post garnered 23,354 likes and 514 comments for an engagement rate of 1.7%.

Advocating Self-Care With Old Spice

This time sponsored by male grooming brand Old Spice, the Colonel shows off a variety of products from moisturizers to beard oil, recommending his fans to spend more time on looking good and feeling good to ‘go get your dreams.’

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#ad Self-care is really important. It’s a cliche, but it’s true that when you look good you feel good. And @oldspice definitely helps me look good and feel good. I use Moisturize with Shea Butter Body Wash ’cause #menhaveskintoo. Then I use beard oil to get my beard luscious and patently Colonel. Take some space for self-care, so you look good, then you feel good, then you are more good with yourself, then you can go get your dreams. Like starting an international series of chicken restaurants. Small things like self-care have a huge impact on beard confidence and beard look, which has a huge impact on your goals. That’s why self-care is such an important part of the #secretrecipeforsuccess and it will help you achieve your goals too. #beardhealth #protip #ad #selfcare #beard #taketimeforyourself #artistatwork #lookgoodfeelgood #thisishowyoudoit #friedchicken #advice #success #entrepreneur #behindthecurtain #keys #respect #inspiration #positive #positivethoughts #artistatwork #grooming #clean #shave #mensgrooming #virtualcolonel

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As with all his other posts, the campaign hashtag #secretrecipeforsuccess is present, along with a litany of positivity hashtags, and #virtualcolonel. The post racked up 25,596 likes and 527 comments for an engagement total of 1.94%.

Virtual Colonel Recharges With Casper

Mattress brand Casper is the recipient of one of Virtual Sanders’ better-performing posts. The Colonel talks up the company’s mattresses, posing on a bed and in front of the packaging it came in, appearing to be in a relaxed mood.

As ever, positivity is the theme, with the virtual Colonel talking about the personal importance of getting rest in order to become a ‘culinary and entrepreneurial artist.’ The post includes the campaign hashtag and tags Casper’s Instagram handle. With 26,179 likes and 571 comments, the post achieved an engagement rate of 1.91%.


  • KFC’s influencer marketing strategy was propped up by a CGI influencer to deliver their two-week campaign.
  • Reaction to the introduction of the Virtual Colonel was mixed, with the parody angle seemingly not understood by many followers.
  • Engagement for the campaign was low, with none of the sponsored posts getting over 2%.
  • The campaign demonstrates KFC’s willingness to take risks with their Instagram marketing, and will likely attempt a similarly left-of-field approach in the future.
  • The CGI influencer campaign proves the viability and potential of virtual models partnering with brands.

Case Study: Headspace Marketing Taps Influencers To Flex Mental Health

headspace marketing

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Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Headspace Helps Lifestyle Influencers Alleviate Holiday Hecticness

In an era when emails, texts, updates, and other notifications keep the world moving ad nauseum, meditation apps like Headspace are leveraging technology to help people become more mindful and present. Launching in 2010, Santa Monica-based Headspace’s stated mission is to “improve the health and happiness of the world.” As part of a strategy to make sure its mindfulness message is heard, Headspace has collaborated with lifestyle influencers in areas such as health, fitness, and style.

In 2019, nearly two-thirds of marketers are increasing their influencer marketing budgets. However, as the space becomes more crowded, audiences risk experiencing influencer fatigue. For brands looking to rise above the clutter, a new kind of mindfulness will be required when designing and launching influencer campaigns.

Instagram Influencer Households Tout The Value And Virtues Of Headspace’s Family Plan

A growing interest in self-care and wellness has made practices such as meditation more popular and palatable. With the advent of smartphones, companies like Headspace have met this enthusiasm with a delivery system that’s both convenient for the consumer and effective for its company mission.

headspace marketing

While Headspace is free to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play, the company also offers paid subscription services with added features. For their recent campaign with lifestyle influencers, Headspace marketing focused on the company’s new family plan. Continue reading “Case Study: Headspace Marketing Taps Influencers To Flex Mental Health”