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5 brands in Malaysia acing their influencer marketing strategy

5 brands in Malaysia acing their influencer marketing strategy

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Social media influencers are a vital aspect of creating an effective digital marketing strategy. In the world of online consumers, influencers play a huge part in selling your product and promoting your brand. With the rise of social media over the past few years, influencer marketing has become part of social media marketing and content marketing mix for connecting directly with consumers.

Brands in Malaysia have leveraged influencers in their campaigns to draw new eyeballs and extend the reach of their marketing. However, it is known fact that the influencer marketing scene is a competitive one and not all activations with influencers always work. Hence, A+M turned to our results for Marketing Excellence Awards Malaysia 2022 to find out which influencer campaigns impressed the judging panel.

These were the top five brands, judged by our esteemed client-side marketers, that dazzled with their out-of-the-box influencer and KOL marketing campaigns. 

1. Jollibee

With the rise of social media that immerses us in a plethora of food cultures, many F&B brands seek fresh and innovative ways to communicate with their audience, breaking through the noise and over-saturated marketplace. After all, 71% of consumers are likely to buy products or services based on social media referrals, according to StarNgage's Influencer Marketing in Malaysia report.

Set to launch in Sunway Pyramid, next to a row of legacy QSRs and fan-favourite fried chicken competitors, Jollibee needed the perfect ingredient to boost its relatively small presence in Malaysia while spreading the spirit of fun, joy and togetherness with deliciously authentic food made for sharing.

This is where social media influencers come into play. Jollibee had two key audiences - Gen Z and Millennials. Gen Zs look to foodie influencers to identify up-and-coming eateries and mouth-watering food trends. Meanwhile, Millennials keep themselves updated on the latest lifestyle trend, on social media.

Despite already having a foot in the door, heart-warming brand values and an authentically Southeast Asian menu, a question remained: Will Jollibee’s first store in West Malaysia (and within Klang Valley) appeal to local Gen Z and young Millennials when they are already spoilt for food choices?

To ensure a successful launch in West Malaysia, Jollibee needed to demonstrate its brand authenticity, and embrace organic connections through personalised engagement. Its strategic influencer marketing plan was carried out across three influencer tiers to win over Malaysian Gen Z and young Millennials with its compelling brand story, and become their top-of-mind fast-food choice.

Jollibee collaborated with well-established foodie influencers to ensure it reached the foodie community in Malaysia. Through their content, the QSR brand sought to increase social credibility and resonance while highlighting Jollibee's competitive edge. 

Macro-influencers were handpicked based on their personable image and strong relationship with their diverse fanbase. This allowed Jollibee Malaysia to easily share its brand values and inform Malaysians of its unique menu while creating that positive halo effect, boosting brand awareness and reach Malaysians en mass.

Finally, its chosen micro-influencers were everyday consumers who have the power to spark the Jollibee buzz to boost social influence and reach Jollibee’s target audience. On top of encouraging brand awareness amongst local Gen Z and young Millennials, they also boost engagement, spur word-of-mouth and strengthen brand-customer relationships on behalf of the brand through personalised content creation.

With that, Jolibee was able to cover all aspects of the marketing funnel; from creating brand awareness, boosting brand interest and consideration, to cultivating a Jollibee community in Malaysia, and eventually driving footfall to the Jollibee Sunway Pyramid launch.

The carefully curated influencers were chosen with the following criteria in mind. They were natural storytellers with talent in story-telling personal experiences authentically, they were influential and have the ability to empower a close-knit community, and they had loyal audiences who trust their opinions, boosting organic engagement.

With that, Jolibee engaged a total of 35 influencers — 15 macro-influencers and 20 micro-influencers  —with an average engagement rate of 6.83%, to launch Jollibee Sunway Pyramid with a bang.

Its strategy was two-fold: Firstly, to share the Jollibee experience through high-value content development, as well as providing polished content results in strong social credibility and enhanced brand knowledge amongst target audiences.

Prior to the Jollibee Sunway Pyramid launch, macro-influencers were gifted a Jollibee PR kit and invited to a soft launch for a sneak peek into the brand-new store. They also got to experience Jollibee hospitality while enjoying a jolly good feast of Chickenjoy, amongst other signature Jollibee foods. These influencers were encouraged to produce high-quality content ahead of time, sharing never-before-seen and behind-the-scenes Jollibee experiences with their followers, amplifying brand voice, and generating pre-launch excitement.

Secondly, it wanted to connect with Jollibee’s audience through less-polished more authentic content. Its content strategy also included showcasing in-the-moment experiences with more intimacy. With that, micro-influencers were seeded into the queue on the opening day of Jollibee Sunway Pyramid. These “everyday consumers” shared live event updates and broadcasted their first Jollibee experience onto social media; taking advantage of the genuine connections they share with their followers, tapping into their YOLO and FOMO mindset while encouraging people to visit the first Jollibee store in West Malaysia.

Through its army of influencers and authentic storytelling, Jolibee aimed to build a strong Jollibee Malaysia community and not just one-time customers. Its strategy then pivoted to also include a community-driven social media contest encouraging user-generated content (UGC) for a month in conjunction with the official Jollibee Sunway Pyramid launch. Engaged macroinfluencers visited Jollibee Sunway Pyramid and shared their must-try Jollibee meals with a CTA to join the #JoyAtFirstBite contest.

Its micro-influencers followed suit. They produced UGC that was authentic, conversational, and true to their content style; all while being engaging and informative. Finally cross-posting influencer content for maximum reach and awareness. Knowing that each platform has its own respective algorithm and preferred content styles, all influencer content was carefully curated and developed and remains sharable and adaptable across all social media platforms. The content was also staggered to go live for weeks after the launch, effectively creating hype and enhancing Jollibee’s FOMO marketing strategy.

In total, 122 influencer content was posted throughout the launch campaign, and Jollibee achieved an average engagement rate of 12.34%. Its social media platforms also saw tremendous growth with a great number of social media shoutouts and UGC from engaged influencers, foodies, and fans alike.

2. Matrix Concepts Holdings

People believe and invest in brands that they feel connected to. For property developer Matrix Concepts Holdings to increase brand relevance in a cluttered market, engaging top-tier influencers was how it turned leads into buyers in 2022.

After all, this is not just another product in the market but one that home buyers will be committed to for a long time, if not the rest of their life. Hence, the brand decided to execute a Hari Raya campaign titled "Metaraya Matrix" in collaboration with some of Malaysia's top talent.

The warmth, culture, and traditions of Raya are still preserved and practised up to this day. Straying away from the conventional Raya videos, Matrix Concepts decided to embark on a new approach to solidify the brand to be one that's at the forefront of embracing new norms without forgetting its collective roots.

Matrix Concepts launched a campaign video where each element was meticulously and deliberately chosen. The star-studded lineup to work on this massive project included the best talents in the music, fashion, creative, and entertainment industries.

Its main actress was 27-year-old Malaysian celebrity, Janna Nick, who was transformed into a grandmother and played the role of nenek. Malaysian music producer, Keon Chia created the Raya-themed song "Metaraya Matrix". The song was skillfully composted, modern but at the same time honoured tradition and a chorus that could go along with TikTok dance trend to boot.

The song was coupled with dance moves sequenced and arranged by celebrity choreographers, Aric Ho and Ariel Chew of Mob Performing Academy. Matrix Concepts made sure that the choreography allowed both dancers and non-dancers of all ages to pick up the dance moves. Next, Malaysia’s renowned fashion designer/stylist, Abu Shaef Hamza designed the custom-made traditional outfits with a futuristic touch for all main cast members of the video advertisement.

Celebrity makeup artist, Sharhim Khan brought life into Janna’s character as nenek while Malaysia’s most sought-after session stylist, David Shaw crafted the futuristic hairstyle masterpiece worn by Janna. Finally, the ideation and execution of "Metaraya Matrix" also involved director and producer, Asher Yeap.

To generate higher engagement, a giveaway on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok with different mechanics was implemented. This grew Matrix Concepts’ social pages, brand presence and credibility.

Brand lift was substantial, with an estimated 24K total increase in page views and over 4K increase in following count across the social platforms. Its video was viewed almost four million times and generated leads that converted into more than 100 new homeowners.

3. Mead Johnson Nutrition

Adult nutritious milk PROVITAL Immuna Plus was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the growing demand for immunity-boosting food and drinks. According to GlobalData’s Q1 2022 consumer survey, Malaysians, especially over the age of 40, felt that the claim "contains immunity-boosting ingredients" was an essential or key driver of the purchase of food and drinks. For Mead Johnson Nutrition, its challenge for its brand PROVITAL Immuna Plus lay in driving brand awareness as consumers did not associate its nutritious milk with immunity. 

To own and reinforce its immunity messaging, PROVITAL created an immune health movement via a collaboration with the Malaysian Society of Allergy and Immunology (MSAI) during World Immunity Month. This campaign was led by the engagement of immunity ambassadors, healthcare professionals, and micro and nano-influencers to drive the movement while encouraging Malaysians to take charge of their immune health.

Key visuals portrayed people from all walks of life coming together to encourage PROVITAL consumption. Stock images and talents in these visuals were carefully selected to ensure the target audience relate to them and would associate immunity with milk. 

A comprehensive KOL ecosystem to drive the campaign was developed. The word-of-mouth amplification was aimed at generating buzz to bring immune health awareness to Malaysians, whilst driving conversion. Unlike typical KOL engagement with social postings, PROVITAL utilised multiple tiers of KOLs with various engagement activities to create hype. This included three local artists as immunity ambassadors: Tiara Jacquelina and Chan Fong who are in their 50s yet leading an active lifestyle, and Cheryl Lee, who is in her late 30s, to appeal to and recruit consumers entering the 40s.

All three artists are popular among the Malay and Chinese target audiences. PROVITAL also partnered with Dr. Kent Woo, president of MSAI, for a panel discussion during its media launch to drive superior science credibility. Then over 30 micro/nano KOLs aged over 40 were engaged to seed PROVITAL’s product reviews and call out to followers to check their immune status via PROVITAL’s immunity calculator.

PROVITAL created its own series of health chatrooms involving Chan and Lee. This fresh take on livestreaming enabled consumer-brand conversation where consumers could call in and express their thoughts. They also livestreamed with Tiara Jacquelina on Shopee.

Multiple social postings through KOLs with an eCommerce voucher code were deployed to drive conversion. Educational content was used to drive awareness of immune health and PROVITAL’s benefits, while testimonial content was to drive word of mouth and build trust on product benefits. Demonstrative content was created to encourage users to try its immunity calculator. 

KOLs and healthcare professionals came together to raise immune health awareness through a panel discussion with the president of MSAI and immunity ambassadors to drive awareness. Its immunity calculator endorsed by MSAI was launched at the MSAI Congress to get doctors to check their patient's immune status. Micro and nano KOLs also shared coverage of the media launch via social media and blogs.

For optimum results, different creative assets and messaging were adapted to YouTube and Facebook campaigns and its TVC was adapted into 15-second and six-second versions suitable for digital platforms for a full-funnel consumer journey approach. To further amplify awareness about the importance of immune health and sustain hype, an engaging Facebook and Instagram AR filter was rolled out to spread the usage of triple immunity gesture.

PROVITAL was one of the first brands to hold a physical event after two years of pandemic. The on-ground PR launch event was also livestreamed to Facebook for consumers to join in on the excitement. It also launched a Mead Johnson Nutrition + MSAI partnership and endorsement of the immunity calculator during MSAI Congress to encourage healthcare professionals to check their patients’ immune status.

The campaign's success was evident from numerous metrics such as its digital campaign gaining 3.8 million reach. The PROVITAL X Chan Fong livestream collaboration had more than 700k social reach and generated high product interest with high sample requests. At the same time, the ambassadors and nano KOLs garnered 800k reach across 100 posts. Overall the entire campaign had over 20 million in reach and sales value increased by more than 200%.

4. PepsiCo

Throughout the years, the snack industry has been a cornerstone of consumption for many people across the world. And particularly in Malaysia, snack companies have heavily competed to trigger cravings from snackers across the country who are always munching and looking for the next best flavour to try.

With more people appreciating the premium taste of its products, Lay's saw the need to establish strong brand equity with its core target audience, Millennials, to secure longevity in the market. 

This general increase in snacking consumption, especially since the pandemic started, boded well for Lay's launching a new campaign to excite consumers. To trigger cravings and wet consumers' appetites, Lay's collaborated with KFC. An iconic world brand that already has a strongly established unique flavour and crave-ability in a massive target audience.

KFC’s strong flavour foundation and broad market appeal plus previous collaboration in Thailand had Malaysians in anticipation of this partnership. Furthermore, from a business standpoint, KFC boasts more than 700 stores spread across the country.

Indicators showed that the majority of its target audience spent their time on social media watching videos. Just as other mega food collabs that have gone viral, Lay's wanted to make sure it was also engaging with visual appeal, on top of the already exciting prospect of this collaboration.

As part of the strategy of making snacks more exciting, the brand needed to carefully plan the right moment for this collaboration to launch. It chose to launch it in conjunction with Hari Raya to leverage the Raya festivities and to establish Lay’s x KFC’s positioning in snack-sharing occasions during the festive season, as chips are meant to be enjoyed together.

First, it released two 10-second videos on Facebook, teasing the upcoming collaboration between Lay’s and KFC. It also sent media kits to several KOLs and publishers for them to make content and do reviews about the product. These kits were filled with goodies including Lay’s x KFC snack packs, KFC face masks, Lay’s pillows and collab tote bags.

It launched the campaign with a main video to introduce the collaboration to Malaysia, with multiple variations across YouTube, Facebook, as well as a TVC. Clips from the main video which focuses on just the food appeal itself were used to help encourage cravings from its target audience. 

Beneath the surface of the video advertising, it also wanted to connect with the Malaysian youth through their favourite personalities across social media. So Lay's enlisted a diverse roster of KOLs from all kinds of backgrounds such as foodies, models, and lifestyle vloggers, who promoted the collaboration to thousands of their followers.

Not only were people talking about the collaboration, but people were engaging with it too. To go beyond the snacking experience and make it fun and exciting, Lay's crafted its very own tongue twister challenge. This served as another outlet to trigger cravings – get it on everyone’s tongue, so that word-of-mouth would spread and everyone would want to try it. Those who participated in the tongue twister and uploaded it to any social platform would simply need to show their video at any KFC branch counter, and they would be rewarded with a free packet of Lay’s x KFC! To make sure that more people participated, Lay's asked its KOLs to try it themselves and share their attempts (and fails) on their social media.

It also decked out the KFC establishments with in-store assets to show anybody who was not in the know about the collaboration. People could buy the crisps on their own, or even better, have it as part of a KFC combo meal. This was complemented by its own in-store activation, where Lay's invited a massive amount of people to participate and try their luck in its tongue twister challenge. This activation wasn’t just to get people to play the game, but to encourage them to try this new exciting flavour. It also catered to those at home who wanted to try the new snack by integrating the new Lay’s X KFC combo meals on the KFC delivery app.

Its video campaign achieved huge viewership on TV through Astro and MPTV mediums, as well as digital views on social media, scoring more than 700% reach which drove up brand awareness to current and new viewers. It earned more than five million views in total for its main campaign video, across its digital advertising through Google, YouTube and Facebook. 

5. RHB Banking Group

Affluent banking customers are the most lucrative segment within the Malaysian banking industry as they contribute to the majority of a bank’s assets under management (AUM). RHB Bank is no different with its premier banking division delivering well over 70% of the bank’s total AUM. It was imperative to RHB’s future business that this segment continued to grow.

The competition for affluent banking customers has become extremely competitive with many local and international banks upping their game in terms offering attractive promotions to recruit new customers. Whilst these promotions do drive up numbers, it is also an unsustainable short-term solution as customers are attracted by the offers rather than any real affinity to the brand. In fact, these promotional-centric tactics were starting to deliver diminishing returns, with most new premier banking customers only investing the minimal amounts required to qualify for the promotion.

Compounding this was an issue of legacy. RHB has long been seen as a Malay-centric bank, and given that Chinese Malaysians comprised the bulk of affluent banking customers, a major perception shift was required to win them over. With a new premier banking acquisition campaign scheduled for October 2021, RHB Premier needed a new strategy to win the hearts and investment funds of the Chinese audience.

For RHB to win over affluent Malaysian Chinese, the brand would need to show not just an appreciation for its audience but also demonstrate as a financial partner, an ability to enhance their wealth and progress their legacy. The campaign centred around a simple theme of "golden wisdom". "Golden" was used as a symbol of wealth that is especially valued by traditional-minded Chinese, leading RHB to create a kiasu promo to tempt its audience. Meanwhiloe, "Wisdom" was used to showcase RHB’s expertise in providing the best advice to guide customers in their investment journey with recommendations and market insights that are tailored to helping customers achieve their financial goals.

A unique campaign that combined a thematic narrative that sought to position RHB Premier’s products and services as a wise choice for discerning affluent Chinese banking customers with a massively attractive tactical offer: A chance to win 500g worth of gold.

RHB turned traditional culture into modern art-vertisments. Traditional Chinese calligraphy art is well appreciated by the bank's target audience. It is an art that is traditionally used to impart wisdom. RHB took a bold step to be the first bank in Malaysia to collaborate with Ong Chia Koon, a renowned Chinese Calligraphy artist, and Jaemy Choong, a young designer, to produce masterpieces that cleverly turned into art-vertisements.

To reach its target audience effectively,  RHB invested in a mix of traditional and digital mediums. A digital film, which featured Ong Chia Koon and Jaemy Choong, tells a story of how they created the masterpieces that mash traditional Chinese art and modern art together to carefully convey the message that legacies and wisdoms of the past can be preserved and applied for the future. The film was supported by other social activations including; print ads, digital ads and in-branch materials.

For RHB, golden wisdom was a resounding success with the campaign delivering more than 300k visits to its premier banking website in just two months. The campaign was successful in reaching its target audience with affluent Malaysian Chinese clients contributing to majority of all new RHB Premier acquisitions during the campaign.

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