Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

In this guest post, CEO of content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart (pictured below), says brands would do well to play on their customer’s loyal tribalism…

Normally over Christmas, any downtime is spent asleep on the sofa, mildly lubricated with a belly full. This year, with the Ashes in the background, I managed to stay awake long enough to read Seth Godin’s Tribes: We need you to lead us. I was few years late (as ever) but Godin is always ahead of his time and tribal marketing has never been more relevant.


For millions of years people have been part of tribes. Whether these groups are built around work, a passion, religion, ethnicity or politics we all need to belong to a collective larger than ourselves. Some people hate the notion, but it’s true.

Godin believes that all tribes share three components: a group of people, a common cause and at least one leader who represents and organises the tribe.

All around us, there are tribes yearning for leadership. Our job as brand marketers is to create tribal leadership around a cause that we can clearly be identified with.

The most important feature here is the shared cause that can turn tribe members into driven believers not merely followers. Those people make the cause their own, they internalise it and become self-motivated to advocate for that cause.

Godin’s book made me reflect on one of our successes with Nulon Oil in 2017.

Nowadays with technology and laziness, in my case, there’s few of us motorists who take pleasure from getting under the hood to change their own oil. In fact, just 15% of car owners do any DIY engine work themselves – just under 2.5 million Aussie consumers.

But our research showed that these drivers are die-hard car lovers. They tinker, modify and race. They live for it. We identified a tribe of what we called “Modifinkers” whose shared cause was their passion for their car and its performance. They aren’t like the rest of us whose groins don’t strain with the smell of oil or the growl of an engine, these guys and girls were ‘Born This Way’. They can’t help it.

Nulon shared that passion, so we set about leading and connecting this tribe. We launched with a ‘Born This Way’ branded content film then continued with a series of mini-documentaries covering real enthusiasts and how they are ‘born this way’. The success has blown us away.

The 24 films in the series have had a total of 5,854,563 video views and 78,200 engagements (likes, shares comments). The series reached 2.47 million unique Australians – that’s 100 per cent of our target audience – putting the Nulon brand in front of every potential car-loving customer.

Since the launch of the campaign, sales of Nulon’s Synthetic Semi-Diesel Oil have increased in volume by 36 per cent, and sales of Nulon’s Full Synthetic Oil has increased in volume by 48 per cent.

One of the keys, and Godin agreed with this, is that it needs to scream of newness, and allow for people to be directly engaged in the movement. Fundamentally, a meaningful cause scratches an itch that hasn’t been sufficiently scratched yet. The oil industry has been traditionally dominated by big corporate players like Shell, Caltex, Penright. Yet here came a lesser-known brand with a new “real” mantra.

It shows that the cause of a tribe can be anything from environmental justice, a political campaign or a group of car enthusiasts who believe in the superiority of their beloved oil brand.

The Born This Way narrative told the story, shared the passion and created the connection between the leader (Nulon) and the tribe and among the tribe members; and it gave them something to dream about and something to do.

Interestingly a tribe’s influence is no longer directly correlated to its size but to the intensity of the passion and depth. The passion of Nulon’s following now they are connected is fascinating to see. That passion creates real sustainable growth driven by the people who truly love your cause, advocate your values – and beat the social media drum for you.

Creating a movement is about organising an existing yearning into a way that tribe members can connect with each other, and form a movement under your leadership. We crowdsourced our Modifiers series stories from the tribe. We gave them a platform to share the stories of their suped up beasts, their Japanese XXX or the Aussie muscle car.

People need to be able to communicate intensely about their shared cause. This means that communication can’t just be vertical – between you (the leader) and the individual tribe members – more importantly, it must be horizontal, between tribe members.

Our job now is to continue to tighten the tribe bringing members closer together by facilitating communication and tightening their common bond. To create a feeling of cohesion, Godin talks about developing a culture of insiders – which inevitably excludes others. This allows the tribe to differentiate itself from other tribes, and creates a stronger sense of internal identification. Think Apple and its secrecy with new launches.

With Nulon, their own petrol head events like The Nulon National Series allow us to create exclusive money-can’t-buy moments where the tribe can mingle and bond over their cause, safe in the knowledge they have a new leader.

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Edge Fergus Stoddart

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