A Look At Influencer Marketing: Q&A With Cigna's Stephen Cassell

Stephen Cassell, senior vice president/chief brand officer at Cigna Corp., will deliver a presentation at the ANA’s 2020 Influencer Marketing & Activation Conference.  In this interview, he discusses the value and impact of influencer marketing.

Q. How can marketers choose the right influencers for their brands?  What criteria should they follow?

Cigna leans on several key principles:

  1. Mission is the greatest asset. The most important criterion businesses should look for when partnering with influencers is finding individuals who believe in the mission’s power to create change. 
  2. Insight first, influence second: You must understand an audience before you can influence them.
  3. Fit, not fame: The world’s most famous person could create little value for your brand. It’s about marrying interests. 



Q. Should influencer partnerships be long-term or short-term?  

It comes down to two key factors: 1) your mission and objective and 2) how the influencer fits as your objective evolves.

Q. What’s more important when choosing an influencer: total number of followers, or influence among a smaller target group?

It comes back to fit, not fame. For our “1 in 5” campaign, we identified five professions that were likely to suffer from addiction. We then found influencers who could connect with these communities based on their backgrounds and stories of addiction. In cases where we’re driving awareness, we look to bigger celebrities.

Q. What direction do you see influencer marketing moving in 2021 and beyond?

Micro-influencers and influential consumers are going to shape the 2021 market. As COVID-19 changes our digital landscape, these groups become more empowered as they use forums on Facebook and Reddit, while TikTok’s popularity with Gen Z means anyone with a great idea — or a sharable video — has his or her shot at the spotlight. We’re already invested in micro-communities, and we know that large-scale change starts with influence at a micro-community level.

Q. What traits and qualities should a marketer look for when partnering with an influencer?

We prefer to think about points of convergence: how we can find areas where our brand, audience, and influencer values intersect, and how we can spark potential moments of influence.

More than ever, our audiences are facing unprecedented challenges that they need us to help take on. We partnered with Leland Melvin, former NFL player and astronaut. He suffered a series of setbacks, but he used them as opportunities to evolve. He fit very well with our brand vision and the audience need we identified.   

Q. How big a role does influencer marketing play in Cigna’s overall marketing plans?

We think of influencer marketing as a key tool to driving the behavioral change needed to create healthier communities. Influencers can serve as the bridge between our vision and our customers’ mindsets.  One of our latest campaigns is aimed at helping to address disparate COVID-19 infection rates among minority groups. 

We’re working alongside Cigna ally Earvin “Magic” Johnson to reach Black communities, educating them on ways to keep their families safe from COVID-19 and directing them to Cigna resources, like free flu shots and PPE.

Next story loading loading..