Have Digital Influencers Become The New Celebrity Endorsement?

Buying a car has always been a simple process. One can simply stroll into the dealer, decide on a model, pick a color and sign the papers. With research tools like TrueCar and, the process of finding the right car at the right price has become even easier.

However, for automotive enthusiasts with more particular taste and deeper wallets, buying a ‘halo car’ is an entirely different process, involving a blend of luck, fame and brand loyalty. Why is the process so involved? Because a ‘halo car’ is a flagship car for a brand. ‘Halo cars’ are more than just the embodiment of great technical achievement; they are supposed to capture the public’s imagination and serve as the pinnacle for the brand.

When it comes to these cars, Ferrari and Porsche, among other exotic brands, have been known to be very selective about who will have the opportunity to get into the driver’s seat.

It’s not just these luxury brands getting involved, though. For a recent example, look no further than Ford. They went even further to determine who would be lucky enough to shell-out $400,000+ for their latest ‘halo car’, the Ford GT. In addition to the typical requirements, the 7,000+ applicants had to describe their role as a public influencer and provide links to their social media accounts to showcase why they deserve the car.. Beyond that, Ford asked that applicants to publish 60-second videos on why they think they would make a good Ford GT owner. Sounds like a lot of work for a potential letdown after all was said and done!

At the end of July, Ford notified those who were chosen to drive their car. Interestingly enough, three YouTube stars are on the list of future Ford GT owners. Why this particular approach to selecting who receives their next ‘halo’ car? Because Ford wants people with a voice to own the car so that they can share their experience, which will in turn attract their followers to the brand. With other brands like Chevy and Subaru employing the same tactics, it begs the question: Have today’s digital influencers supplanted celebrities in terms of brand endorsements?

One thing we know for sure: today’s consumers yearn for authenticity. By leveraging influencers’ strong reputation for honesty and trustworthiness, they, in turn, create believers out of their followers and readership. A celebrity endorsement, while powerful, is not always an authentic way of promoting a brand. With candidness and a personal touch that celebrities are unable to offer, influencers provide the most impactful endorsement, even for ‘halo cars’ like the Ford GT.

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