Mario Herraiz, the influencer who tests your favorite cars: “This job gives you a lifestyle that you wouldn't have even if you were a millionaire”

From hobby to craft and from craft to a means of life.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
30 March 2024 Saturday 10:26
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Mario Herraiz, the influencer who tests your favorite cars: “This job gives you a lifestyle that you wouldn't have even if you were a millionaire”

From hobby to craft and from craft to a means of life. Mario Herraiz (Madrid, 1990) has managed to combine his two passions in CarUnplugged, journalism and the world of motors. This young man is the creator of a means of communication that was born directly on social networks, the main scene of the battle for attention today. A business project thanks to which he has become a prescriber for vehicle manufacturers and which has 160,000 followers and 4.5 million likes on TikTok.

Although he has gone to the dark side of influencers, this former press editor tries to apply journalistic deontology in each recording. Go, see and tell, except that, in this case, he goes by plane, sees and tests the latest cars on the market and tells from a mobile phone about his latest adventure at the Dakar or the Paris Motor Show. Herraiz explains to us the formula for the success of this business in which he combines information, entertainment and advertising.

When you were studying journalism, were you already clear that you wanted to specialize in motorsport?

From a very young age it was clear that I wanted to dedicate myself to communication. I didn't know whether to do something more focused on marketing and advertising or the more analytical work of journalism. The day before registering for university I opted for this last and blessed decision, because journalism is for me the most beautiful profession that exists.

Before CarUnplugged, had you undertaken any similar projects?

At 19 years old I was already attentive to any website or blog about motors that arose to sign up and make a place for myself. Twitter helped me a lot to position myself in the sector at that time when we did not have any other social network. I talked about cars every day and interacted with magazine directors, journalists and other relevant profiles in the industry. Later, my other big job before CarUnplugged was as an editor in a specialized media. That experience was the best master's degree I could do, since it gave me a much broader vision of business development.

Under what circumstances do you decide to go for entrepreneurship?

He had accepted a position as press officer for a car brand that did not materialize due to the pandemic. At that time I already had extensive background in social networks and decided to focus on creating content on this type of channels.

This is how 'a driving medium in the era of social networks' is born. Were you able to monetize it from the beginning?

Despite the visibility and experience we already had, it took us a few months to make brands understand that it was not necessary to have a website on which to insert their advertising and that we could talk about their products through TikTok or Instagram. Luckily, this perspective has changed a lot in the last four years.

What works better, content pills or long format?

At first our idea was to make content on YouTube and we did not give so much importance to short videos. Then we realized that people no longer have time to sit and watch a 15-minute video, but they do have two hours a day or more to watch 30-second vertical videos. Right now we are producing between 10 and 12 videos a day and publishing between four and six to adjust to this wild consumption rate. We have around one and a half million monthly views and 95% of the traffic comes from vertical formats, although YouTube continues to be decisive in the aspect that the audience wants to know all the details of a car before buying it.

What makes you different?

We add a point of proximity to the contents. We want you to go to Instagram and someone from the team will appear to show you a car as if you were seeing it with us. Critically, of course, but close and focused.

What is your target audience?

When you create content, you tend to think about your community of followers, although it is really the smallest of all. Most people discover you by discovering by scrolling thanks to the algorithm and it is that audience that you have to target. But in the end the community is very fond of you and it is obligatory to return part of what they give you.

That's why you pamper it with exclusive broadcast channels.

These channels reinforce the closeness we were talking about. Our work entails a very attractive lifestyle and gives us the opportunity to have incredible experiences that we would not have even if we were millionaires. We make maybe 100 flights a year and through these channels we can tell the audience the behind-the-scenes of these trips. Or the accessories I just bought for my new car. We try to give it a much more personal approach.

To what extent do you depend on the manufacturers? So far all the content is open for the audience

We totally depend on manufacturers and brands because until now we have not found the payment formula that suits our audience. Luckily, the automobile industry allows you to be critical of it because it understands that you will also be critical of its rival. Our structure and our formats make it possible for us to adopt this position. We make sponsored content that we identify to our followers, without prejudice to the fact that we stop trying and telling other products.

Where does the influencer's work begin and the journalist's work end?

When I go to learn about a new product I do it with the same energy as the editor who just started two weeks ago. But thanks to my experience as a content creator, I quickly detect what our followers will like and what they won't. My work as commercial director also comes into play when I have to sit down to eat with a communications or marketing department and I do it without affecting the content. In my head I have these three figures completely segmented, which, on the other hand, are diluted in the current communication sector.

What means do you have right now to create content?

We are very self-sufficient. When Jesús, Jaume or I travel to a production, we are a means of communication ourselves with the ability to record, edit and publish a video. Sometimes we lend a hand or hire a larger structure for specific recordings. But the type of content we make also lends itself to doing it in selfie format or using a tripod. In the end, a mobile phone is an editorial office, a printing press and a camera.

And what are the cars that sleep in your garage?

A few years ago I was able to buy the car of my dreams since I was a child, a Porsche 911, after working a lot. Then I have had several Mazda MX-5s, for me the perfect car because it gives you a lot for very little, because you get in and you automatically have a smile. I have sold both in the last month to buy a Skoda Octavia RS and a Porsche Cayman - I am very Porschista -, with the idea of ​​modifying it and making a very cool project. People like to know what a car tester can have in his garage and I want to play with that curiosity. I'm going to show you the wheels I'm going to mount or the changes I'm going to make to the interior.

Furthermore, I dedicate myself to motor journalism because I love motorcycles. When I was little my uncle worked in the printing press of several motorcycle magazine publications that I devoured. I have a couple of Ducatis and a QJ.

What, for you, are the minimum requirements for a good vehicle?

Beyond speed or appearance, for me one of the requirements is the personal connection I may have with a car or motorcycle. I have chased cars after attending a product presentation and I loved what I experienced from that trip.