Lenovo turns to YouTubers for ‘experience led and conversationally driven’ marketing

Despite raised eyebrows over effectiveness, Lenovo’s marketing director for the UK and Ireland recently turned his attentions to YouTubers as part of a wider shift in strategy to build a stronger brand among millennials.

Lenovo’s recent partnership with YouTuber Oli White – who now commands over a million views for a video – was forged in a bid to show the benefits of its Yoga tablet to millennials, a demographic is has heavily targeted for the past three years.

The campaign materialised against a backdrop of uncertainty about the effectiveness of brands simply throwing money at YouTubers with research firm GlobalWebIndex questioning the new marketing tack gripping marketers across the globe.

As tempting as it might to ask individual YouTubers – achieving views for a single online video comparable to that of a Channel 4 show – to shout about your brand, a perhaps disappointing proportion of viewers are actually interested in hearing about it. In fact, almost half of internet users have watched a vlog at some point in the past month but only 12 per cent do so with the desire to buy.

It’s perhaps highlighted in the viewing figures for Oli White’s branded Lenovo film, ’18 hour adventure’ which saw him travel around Marrakech using the Yoga tablet. 

It received nearly a quarter of a million views, admittedly notable when compared to a standard film about the features of a Yoga tablet. But, it pales in comparison to non-branded films on White's channel; ’18 hour adventure’ is sandwiched between one video with over 700,000 views and another with 850,000.          

Speaking to The Drum, Lenovo’s marketing director for the UK Mike Etherington dismissed the question of effectiveness, saying peer and influencer recommendations are known strong drivers of purchase intent online and added that research shows consumption of video is on a steep increase for millennials.

“With this in mind, 12 per cent of vlog viewers is a significant audience to be addressing,” he said.

Discussing its KPIs, Etherington said he wanted to raise awareness and consideration for Lenovo among design and tech trendsetters, travel enthusiasts as well as increase social engagement and community size across Lenovo’s owned channels.

Against these metrics, he claimed success on all fronts: 17 million impressions, over 550,000 engagements, social reach of over 2.5 million and a 110 per cent growth in its social community.

The experiments with YouTubers is part of a wider shift in thinking at the tech-maker to put a stronger emphasis on social media into its marketing. Three years ago it found that despite being the world’s second largest computer manufacturer it was seriously lagging smaller rivals when it came to brand awareness and affinity.

This prompted a radical shift in strategy and a renewed focus on targeting the 18- to 35-year-old demographic.

“We are a brand which recognises that our customers never stand still, they are constantly looking to experience more and do more. In the spirit of that, we want to excite, entertain and inspire. Of course we have to showcase our products in our content, but above all we’re trying to be experience led and conversationally driven, these two things were at the very core of the campaign,” explained Etherington.

Etherington described Lenovo today as ‘social-first’ in its approach and demands its agencies dovetail traditional marketing activity with content designed specifically with digital platforms in mind.

“We have a unique range of products, which therefore gives us a very unique perspective on content, and allows us to be more playful. We’re also able to be reactive and are happy to challenge the norm – just like our products do – so we like to jump into key trends, where relevant, and add our own flavour – all in the spirit of entertainment,” he said.

This has seen it look beyond the product portfolio and create content on other relevant themes which relate to the brand in areas like design, for example.

Co-creating with YouTubers and the autonomy to “be more playful” is backed at board level thanks to Lenovo’s chief executive Yang Yuanqing, who’s granted the marketing teams globally the freedom to explore and experiment on a local and regional basis, as well as act impulsively and reactively.

“Taking calculated risks is encouraged, it’s the best way to learn and the only way to stay up to date and relevant in the high paced environment of social media," said Etherington.

[By Jennifer Faull.] [Read More.]