The Many Faces of Thanksgiving Influencer Marketing Campaigns

One of the primary benefits of Thanksgiving marketing is that there’s a considerably wide range of products that can intuitively fit your Thanksgiving Day marketing campaign. Unlike, say… Mother’s Day, where a brand may not find real value in running spots to promote a new power drill (Mother’s Day is usually focused on doing something for Mom, not the other way around), Thanksgiving Day provides marketers with a broad selection of possible marketing angles, from more obvious products like a turkey baster to less obvious products like a dog's sweater vest (real Thanksgiving promo - read on).

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For instance, any one of these products would be great to promote for Thanksgiving:

  • Food is an obvious choice, as it’s the main event for most families who celebrate Thanksgiving.
  • Cookware and cutlery can help make meal prep seamless and add a little personality to the dinner table.
  • Fall-inspired home décor is usually in place by Thanksgiving, so if you’re going to buy that cinnamon broom to scent your house, you’ve probably already done it by the time family shows up for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Home improvement supplies to ready your home for guests, just in case it’s your year to host the big family dinner.
  • Winter outerwear to comfortably attend parades in the morning and warmly wait in line in the evening for “Black Thursday” sales.
  • VR, game consoles, televisions, or electronic products that help make family time spent together feel less like family time spent together. 
  • Makeup for a woman meeting her new beau’s family for the first time at Thanksgiving dinner (or in my case, cooking dinner for a house full of strangers a month after you and your new boyfriend start dating).

 That’s what we mean by a wide range of products.

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Influencer Marketing During Thanksgiving

For this post, we are looking at influencer campaigns that specifically targeted Thanksgiving Day. For the time being, we’re going to refrain from Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns. And we'll skip the more obvious “shop this look” posts. Instead, we want to introduce you to a series of marketing campaigns from influencers whose marketing tactics were a little less on-the-nose.   

 

Campaign 1

Influencers Thanksgiving-ize Non-traditional Holiday Foods

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Cilantro Lime Sour Cream is probably not at the top of your Thanksgiving dinner shopping list. Mexican food producer, Cacique, Inc. knows that, which is why their 2016 Thanksgiving marketing strategy included influencer marketing. The campaign, which stretched from November 23rd (the day before Thanksgiving) to November 25th of 2016, focused on providing holiday-inspired ways to incorporate their signature products.

For their day-before and day-of campaigns, Cacique tapped micro influencer Carolina Rojas, creator of the popular recipe site, MiDiarioDeCocina.com (My Kitchen Diary). Carolina is no stranger to working with brands. At a quick glance, I noticed her recipe blog has her partnering with Bar-S, Popsugar (for the #MUSTHAVEBOX), Alaska Seafood, and Dole. And that’s just what I saw on the first page.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Carolina published a sponsored recipe post with an image of baked sweet potatoes with pork chorizo and queso blanco. It was somewhat of a “teaser” post because on Thanksgiving Day, Carolina posted a video of that same recipe that showed step-by-step instructions for recreating the dish.

Carolina has more than 5,000 followers on Instagram and usually averages more than 100 Likes per post. This post, though a fantastic idea, lacked a bit in execution, getting only 60 Likes. 

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Campaign 2

And We’re Most Thankful for Our Kids’… Clothes

This post from healthcare IT consultant, self-professed shopaholic, and mommy & me blogger-influencer Sandy (@sandyalamode) is actually a pretty clever advertisement for OshKosh.

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The post features an adorable shot of her kids hugging outside with little evergreen bushes in the backdrop – very autumn, very holiday. You almost don’t notice how cute their clothes are. It would stand to reason a cute shot of cute kids would include cute clothes, right? Sure. And their outfits are coordinated, no doubt.

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This sponsored post is actually a promotion for the kids' outfits.  They are sporting outerwear like hats, gloves, scarves, and warm sweaters. And their clothes are cute.

The link in the post takes you back to Sandy’s website where users can look through a full photo spread of more than a dozen images of her kids posing and playing in the OshKosh Kids outfits. At the end of the post is a coupon for 25% off any purchase of just $30 or more through December 31, 2016.

With nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram and a healthy 2.4% engagement rate, @sandyalamode focuses on creating eye-catching fashion (for both her and the kids) and lifestyle content.

 

Campaign 3

The Days and Lives of American Express Users

I came across a couple of ads from micro influencers who are using their American Express ambassadorships (that’s a thing, right?) to do everything from replenish an apartment’s collection of knickknacks to buying the #Friendsgiving turkey. 

The #AmExAmbassador posts are typically low-key, day-in-the-life posts - understated, without making a big deal of the fact that these sponsored posts are intended to promote American Express. Most of them are written in a way that puts the focus on the influencer’s activities and not necessarily their method of payment.

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In Denny Balmaceda’s Thanksgiving Day post (above), Denny (@Denny623) talks about being thankful for the new apartment into which he, his wife, and his kids are moving. He uses the post as an opportunity to mention his favorite local store (Kanibal & Co) at which he plans to shop. It's almost coincidental that he’ll be shopping with his American Express card.

Denny is a menswear blogger from New York whose savvy vintage-meets-modern look has helped him grow his Instagram audience to more than 82,000 followers.  Averaging just a few more than two new posts a day, Denny gets more than a 1,100 Likes per post, and posts almost exclusively about fashion.

Another influencer-slash-ambassador who has some cool day-in-the-life sponsored content is Kelly Larkin of KellyintheCity.com. Kelly has more than 64,000 followers on Instagram and gets an average of 1,300+ Likes per post.

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The day before Thanksgiving, Kelly (@kellyinthecity) used the post above to tell her followers she was giving them an inside peek at her holiday plans, which included celebrating #Friendsgiving in NYC and using her American Express Blue Cash Everyday card to cover the cost of buying two full Thanksgiving Day meals for her friends (in lieu of cooking them herself).

Again, the post is less about her payment method and instead focuses on what she did to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  

One more example of the mentioned-in-passing style of #AmExAmbassador sponsored posts comes from West Coast social media influencer Melissa Sonico. Melissa (@melissasonico) has more than 80,000 followers and gets an average of 775 Likes per post.

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In Melissa’s post, she features a lovely picture of a hearty spiced sweet potato soup for Friendsgiving. But it does get a little hard to tell who is sponsoring the post. She at-mentions both American Express and BuzzFeed sort of in the same breath, and later in the post invites followers to read the recipe on “the blog” AND learn about #BlueCashEveryday rewards.

It’s clearly a sponsored post. But if I hadn’t seen the previous #AmExAmbassador posts ahead of this one, I would be a little confused as to whether the post is sponsored by American Express or BuzzFeed. And just as a matter of principle, I’m not interested in finding out about the official terms of any credit card on a food blog.

That’s just me.

 

Campaign 4

Some Things Are Just For Dog Lovers

#DogThanking

That’s a thing. But I don’t have a dog (though I am a great dog sitter), so I didn’t know about it until I started to do some digging. Purina launched a campaign to raise money for the Canine Health Foundation using the branded hashtag #DogThanking just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.  For every branded post, Purina agreed to donate $1 (up to $50,000) to pet research. So, naturally, pet owners began posting.

To spread the word, Purina created an influencer marketing campaign to run alongside the National Dog Show. Influencers posted pictures of their dogs and created posts about how they thank their dogs. Some posts were identified as sponsored posts. Others were not.

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Simba the White Schnauzer (@rawrsimba) is actually a micro influencer. With more than 17,000 Instagram followers, Simba was able to get his Thanksgiving Day #DogThanking post in front of at least 600 people. That’s about how many people Liked the post, at least.

The call-to-action is for followers to use the branded hashtag to tell Simba (and Purina) how they do #DogThanking. This approach  appeals to the user’s sense of compassion. By taking a moment to do this simple thing, the Canine Health Foundation gets much-needed funding to help further pet health research.

While I loved the Purina campaign, as well as the messaging, the execution was a little more on the so-so side. Many of the influencers selected for the campaign had obscenely low engagement. Industry standard is 2%. As influencers get larger, that percentage might start to creep down a bit. But Purina worked with primarily micro-influencers, so there's really no excuse to be working with influencers down in the .05% range of engagement.

Additionally, not to get all critical, while it is my firm belief that almost all dogs are cute, regardless of their physical appearances, certain owners are way better at capturing that cuteness in photos. And the Purina set might not have been high up on that list. 

Just my two cents. 

Another fun campaign by Petco featured @Hamlin_the_Frenchie, a dog influencer with a staggering 127,000+ followers. On Thanksgiving Day 2016, Hamlin put up a sponsored post that he was searching for his cupcake sweater vest in preparation for an epic time caroling with friends the following day.

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The post got 3,681 Likes, which tops Hamlin’s average number of Likes by quite a bit.  Just as impressive is that Hamlin – the dog - gets nearly 40 comments per daily post.

This Petco campaign is a pretty good example of non-Thanksgiving products – which, in this case are sweater vests (one vanilla frosting with chocolate sprinkles and one red velvet one with gold star flakes), lollipop antlers, and red buckle shoes for dogs - being successfully, amusingly marketed during the Thanksgiving holiday.


Wrapping Up

The examples in this post should provide you with a few good Thanksgiving influencer marketing ideas. Better still, it’s proof positive that your Thanksgiving campaign isn’t just limited to posts about turkey dinners and family time.

For help nailing down an effective influencer marketing campaign for your brand, check us out at The Shelf. If you're concerned that your campaigns might have the issues Purina's campaign had, get in touch right away! We can get you all fixed up. We have crafted thousands of successful influencer marketing campaigns, and we'd love to help you with your Thanksgiving marketing efforts.