Fiji water became a winner at this year’s Golden Globe Awards, thanks to a clever influencer marketing stunt.
The water company, a sponsor of the awards ceremony, hired models to carry trays of its product to increase the brand’s visibility on the red carpet. On Sunday, model Kelleth Cuthbert took to the task and ended up grabbing both herself and her organization social media buzz and numerous headlines.
— FIJI Water Japan (@oneandonly_shop) January 8, 2019
FYI: I have already written 200 pages of the Fiji Water girl's inner monologue tonight pic.twitter.com/2VvMGRJPW4
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) January 6, 2019
The numbers confirm that Cuthbert’s photo savvy was a major boon for the brand: Since the start of the Globes, the hashtag #FijiWaterGirl has been used nearly 7,000 times (and counting) on Twitter, earning a whooping 98.9 million impressions on the platform, according to Brandwatch. (And the lesser-used hashtag, #FijiGirl, nabbed an additional 698,000.) And even on a night full of big stars, sentimental speeches and viral moments, the only other hashtag that earned more impressions during the Globes than #FijiWaterGirl was the #GoldenGlobes hashtag itself.
Thanks to the unexpected virality of a model hired to hold bottles of Fiji Water on the red carpet, the water company notched a Golden Globes record for earned impressions, according to marketing analytics firm Apex Marketing Group. To create the same level of buzz through traditional advertising, Apex says Fiji would have had to spend more than $12 million on advertising.
Here are three takeaways from the recent viral sensation:
1. Join in.
Fiji has been a sponsor of the awards ceremony for a few years but decided to blend in with the crowd to increase its product’s visibility.
Fiji has been the official water brand of the Golden Globe Awards since 2015. At the 75th Golden Globes, the company teamed up with Matrix Model Staffing to present the bottles on the red carpet in an effort to have Fiji bottles photographed more prominently at the event. Judging by reactions on Twitter, it worked.
Though the move became viral after social media users started spreading the photobombed images of celebrities prior to the ceremony, Fiji’s decision to place trays of its bottles in the hands of dressed-up models was meant to blend in and be subtle.
To market itself, Fiji has always relied more on strategic product placement than overt advertising. Writing for Fast Company in 2007, Charles Fishman noted, “The marketing of bottled water is subtle compared with the marketing of, say, soft drinks or beer. The point of Fiji Water in the minibar at the Peninsula, or at the center of the table in a white-tablecloth restaurant, is that guests will try it, love it, and buy it at a store the next time they see it.”
The advent of Fiji Water Girl at the Golden Globes shows how this approach has grown more sophisticated. By prominently positioning its glossy representative on the red carpet at what’s considered the “quirkiest” and most down to earth of Hollywood’s many award shows, Fiji Water was positioning itself as fashionable and elite, but still relatable. Fiji Girl just wants you to hydrate, guys.
Instead of screaming a marketing message, simply jump on a current trend. Listening and taking part of the current conversation can net a bigger win than the cleverest commercial or slogan.
2. Give people something to talk about.
Fiji largely remained silent as its model went viral, tweeting the following a few hours later:
We’re so glad everyone is talking about our water!
*senses ominous presence*
She’s right behind us, isn’t she? #FIJIwatergirl
— FIJI Water (@FIJIWater) January 7, 2019
By letting the conversation spread naturally, the company gained what many organizations seek: An organically viral success.
Photos can spread in moments, especially when picked up by the right person or group of social media users. It’s best to let these conversations take place without too much interference. Otherwise, your social media team might appear to be trying too hard, which can quickly kill the reach of the meme.
3. Go with the flow.
Though many are calling the #FijiWaterGirl a calculated PR stunt, Fiji hasn’t fessed up to anything yet. Rather, it seems as if Cuthbert took the task of walking around with water and put her own spin on it, angling herself into photos and sparking buzz on Twitter.
Brand managers can take a nod from this win by grabbing success when it happens, but not attempting to manufacture virality.
Though some marketing messages become instantly popular (such as Tide’s Super Bowl spots), most consumers (especially social media users) are turned off by blatant marketing messages. An unplanned success can also inform future marketing campaigns, as well: Many Twitter users are already calling for Fiji to make Cuthbert its new spokeswoman.
What lessons would you add, PR Daily readers?