By Andrew Muzamhindo
IN what is probably a first in the industry, Zimoco got into bed with Tamy Moyo. She became a brand ambassador for Zimoco.
For a change, a dealership did not see a sale when they looked at a celebrity, Zimoco saw an opportunity for endorsement. They played the long game that is bound to reap immense fruits for their brand later on.
Zimoco is home to the luxurious Mercedes Benz Brands, Jeep Fiat and Alfa, the robust and durable Mitsubishi, the ever-reliable work horse GWM and the new funky and young Haval brands of vehicles. Tamy rode off in a Haval Jolion. Do not be surprised to see her in a new S Class or ferrying her band in a GWM Steed 5 single Cab. She is a brand ambassador for Zimoco, not for a single brand of theirs.
It is not coincidence that Zimoco became the first dealership in the country to top twitter trends chart on Monday this week a few days after going into partnership with Tamy. That is what is called disruptive marketing.
Zimoco turned all the marketing rules upside down, shaking things up and changing not only their own perception but the industry as a whole. Disruptive marketing encourages companies to rethink the whole brand, not just its advertising and marketing campaigns. This is what Zimoco did.
Brand ambassador is marketing jargon for celebrity endorser or spokesmodel, a person employed by an organisation or company to promote its products or services.
Tamy is meant to embody the corporate identity of Zimoco in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics. The key element of brand ambassadors lies in their ability to use promotional strategies that will strengthen the customer-product or service relationship and influence a large audience to buy and consume more.
Tamy will become a positive spokesperson, an opinion leader or a community influencer, appointed as an internal or external agent to boost product or service sales and create brand awareness for Zimoco.
“We are proud to be working with this young and ambitious lady whose brand resonates with the Zimoco brand and speaks to a wide spectrum of the market. Tamy is the best-selling female artist in Zimbabwe and has won many accolades over the years,” Manfred Chaniwa Zimoco’s business development manager said.
As a brand ambassador she will represent and promote Zimoco in a positive way. She will be used by Zimoco to build trust with an audience of potential customers, ultimately to bring consumers closer to Zimoco’s products.
There are two types of brand ambassadors: the first are famous or influential people who are paid to promote a brand. In broadcast terms we would also call them third party spokespeople — the people whom we put in front of the microphone and cameras for television and radio interviews.
The second type is fans of the product that choose to promote it freely. You might even call them “die hard” fans — they love the product so much they actively plug it without receiving any payment. That said brands may think to reward these brand ambassadors with freebies or online engagement.
Brand ambassadors are seen as gold dust by most companies because their association, not only gives a brand additional visibility, it adds a level of trustworthiness too.
When Zimoco was searching for a celebrity brand ambassador, they wanted an influencer their current and potential consumers can relate to. That means sharing the same beliefs and values. The goal of a brand ambassador is to represent the brand in a positive way and build trust with their audience.
In order to find the right brand ambassador, Zimoco looked for someone who has an established online presence, an understanding of marketing and a passion for building and maintaining relationships. Critically, before agreeing to any partnerships a brand must truly understand the influencer’s audience, in order to decide whether this is their desired demographic too. With more than 174 000 Instagram followers this was a coup for Zimoco
From a marketing perspective, Tamy must be willing and available to speak to media and not have a reputation for lending their name to multiple campaigns as this devalues her as a potential spokesperson for Zimoco. An ambassador must also NOT have participated in radio and TV interviews or promotions for competition.
When done correctly, the benefits of having a brand ambassador are vast as such spokespeople are able to humanise a product and boost brand reputation. As well as building trust in existing customers, brand ambassadors are a great way of driving new customers towards a product.
In Zimbabwe, the concept is still new, especially in the motor industry. Dealerships tend to think that celebrities are a nuisance or they would rather sell cars to them instead of making them brand ambassadors. In South Africa, it is big business. Our own Tendai Mtawarira is an ambassador for Ford.
“Beast” as he is commonly referred to by the public was in 2016 announced as the brand ambassador for Ford Performance. He received a brand new Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost with Roush Level 2 performance and styling upgrades.
On the partnership, Tracey Delate, Ford South Africa’s general manager of marketing said: “Partnering Tendai Mtawarira with the Ford Mustang is a match made in heaven as it embodies the ultimate in power, strength, performance and style for both man and machine.”
German luxury carmaker Audi recently extended its association with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli as brand ambassador. Kohli has been associated with Audi India since 2015.
The Johannesburg-based band Mi Casa became the official “friends of the brand” for Mercedes-Benz and were handed the keys to their new G-Class in October 2016. Mi Casa is one of South Africa’s most loved bands, with their soulful house beats and tracks like These Streets and Jika making the local top 10 charts.
Selvin Govender, marketing director for the brand said: “We are delighted to have this association with Mi Casa as their talent appeals to a wide target audience — which include a good proportion of a trendy generation who aspire to be associated with our brand.”
With new Instagram guidelines in place, brands and their ambassadors are expected to be transparent with their partnerships, which make disguising a sponsored content post virtually impossible.
It is important for brands to work together with their ambassadors in order to create content for their channel, which is authentic.
If not, partnerships can appear lazy and several influencers have been caught out after copy and pasting emails from their sponsors straight into a post.
Brand ambassadors can do brilliant things for business, but with so many around, it’s crucial that their values and style align with the brand in order to truly make an impact. If you ask me, Tamy is a breath of fresh air to Zimoco. She brings a dash of youthfulness, exuberance to a brand full of heritage, associated with old money and class.
There is a misnomer in the market that Zimoco carries only exorbitant brands. Not at all! There is a car for everyone at Zimoco. It is not all about Mercedes Benz. She will be the link between old money and new money, the old and the youth.
I pray that more dealerships will start believing in local celebrities and see the value they can add to each other’s brands. Of course, exhaustive and in-depth due diligence has to be done and there must be brand fit.