As influencer marketing continues to mature, here’s why brands are hiring creators as “creative directors”

Last month, Visible launched an awareness campaign for singles featuring comedian and influencer Benito Skinner aka Benny Drama. The effort is part of a rebranding for Visible to reduce the number of influencers it works with in favor of more collaborative relationships, said Visible CMO Cheryl Gresham.

This emphasis on collaboration meant that Skinner played an “active and participatory role,” explained Gresham, who said Skinner offered script suggestions for the character as well as set design adjustments.

“A collaborative nature is essential,” said Skinner, who has worked with brands like Visible, Target and Mac, among others, to create content that will appeal to his audience of 1.4 million Instagram followers. “I want to think about [brand partnerships] so people can enjoy it. I always want it to look like me.

Skinners’ recent collaborative work with Visible is likely part of a burgeoning trend with influencers working in a more advisory capacity. Rather than working with dozens of influencers to post the same brand-approved copy, marketers and agency executives say the relationship with influencers evolves and matures to work with them on more than just a media placement.

For some, it’s more collaborative creative work with brands like Gymshark and Pretty Little Things using influencers like David Laid And Molly Mae as Creative Directors. (Brands like Wild Turkey brought in famous creative directors stand out for years; Diet Coke turned to Model Kate Moss while LVMH recently called on Pharell.) For others, it’s about using the insights influencers have about their audiences almost like market research.

“The era of creators as creative directors has arrived, and it will only continue,” said Sadie Schabdach, Dentsu Creative evp of influencer marketing. “This trend is an evolution of the collaboration model in product marketing, which positions creators as innovators on behalf of brands. This model will not eliminate the modes of influencer marketing that preceded it. It’s a “yes and” extension of how brands and influencers work together today. »

Marketers look to influencers for “creative ideation and thoughtful strategic direction” to create content that is “sustainable, long-lasting and impactful”, explained Zach Blume, co-founder of creative store Portal A, who added that it is about moving away from a more transactional approach. model to that of a “deeper level of collaboration”.

“It’s because authenticity wins,” said Kay Tenerovich, director of social strategy for Carmichael Lynch. “These influencers know better than we do what resonates with their audience. They should be the ones leading the creative process, not following strict orders from brands and agencies. Tenerovich added that the creative store was also looking to hire a creator as a “social content designer.”

While brands may want more authentic content for them now, the move to collaborate more with influencers comes as influencers recognize the opportunity to build their own brands to monetize their own audiences, agency executives said. . In this case, marketers need to offer influencers more incentives to work with them.

“Brands and marketers need to approach more creators as true partners or collaborators,” said Brendan Gahan, social director and partner at Mekanism. “The reason? The power dynamic between brands and creators has evolved. Previously, creators depended on brands for a living. But everything has changed.

Gahan continued, “Creators are seeing their peers launch their own brands, products, and communities and earn more money than ever before. There is a playbook. Creators find content marketcontent marketing? fit. Then they build an audience. Then they start businesses. So creators understand that they have options. As a result, brands need to make their incentives more compelling. »

Jago Sherman, head of strategy at influencer store Goat Agency, echoed that sentiment: “It flips the relationship, from brands telling influencers what they want, to asking them what they need.”

It’s unclear how many more influencers earn for a more collaborative or longer term relationship with a brand. The nature of the deal would change, according to agency executives, but will depend on the influencer, the brand and the nature of the relationship.

“Paying for someone’s knowledge and expertise is obviously very different from paying for their media value,” said Vickie Segar, founder of influencer marketing boutique Village Marketing. “We create personalized offers for this work and decide together what the value per creator is. That said, their time is very valuable considering what they are able to do with brand messaging. »

Marketers and agency executives expect this evolution to continue, as the changing nature of advertising today – where the landscape is more fragmented and harder to break into – makes influencers increasingly more attractive.

“The current reality is that the landscape has truly changed – creators are now defining and influencing culture through an ongoing connection with their unique audience,” said Kerry Doyle, executive vice president and chief content officer at Carat US. connection and influence that ultimately drive our business results, from awareness to purchase. »

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