Jul 1, 2022 - Economy

Influencers more integral than ever to marketers

woman on a stage listening to a male panelist

CANNES, FRANCE - JUNE 22: Hope with Ogilvy Advertising global CEO Antonis Kocheilas, Pernod Ricard North America CMO Pam Forbus, and Dove's global CMO Alessandro Manfredi. Photo: David Ford/Ogilvy

Influencers on social media have become so integral to the process of selling merchandise that they’ve become appendages to the largest marketing organizations in the world.

Why it matters: Online creators, whether on YouTube, Instagram or TikTok, have not only been filling a role to pitch products, but also to plug gaps in creativity as advertising agencies have shrunk.

Driving the news: During a panel I moderated last week at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France, I asked head marketers from Dove and Pernod Ricard if creators have become more or less part-time employees.

  • Pam Forbus, CMO of Pernod Ricard North America, and Dove's global CMO Alessandro Manfredi both answered yes, with Manfredi adding that his organization is "keen now in hiring more people internally that manage [and] build relationships with influencers.” 

State of play: The advertising industry has been suffering from a brain drain for years — with some creatives turning freelance while others have left for tech platforms.

  • When the pandemic pushed people toward their devices, influencers’ reach and effectiveness grew and marketing dollars followed. 
  • A vast majority of marketers (69%) say their budgets for influencers represent a greater proportion of their overall marketing budgets now than pre-pandemic. That's according to a September 2021 survey of over 1,000 marketers in the U.K. and the U.S. from influencer marketing agency Takumi. 

The big picture: As social platforms owned by the likes of Google and Meta have upended global communications, they've also come to dominate the global ad market.

  • “People out there are more talented than ever before,” Ogilvy Advertising global CEO Antonis Kocheilas said on the panel. 
  • “You have kids who can do things that we needed a company 10 years ago to do, and they can do it with their own phones ... How do you make that talent work for a company ... is what we all struggle with."

What to watch: How brands select influencers to reflect their diverse consumer base, and how carefully brands need to monitor influencers’ behavior.

  • Only 28% of people in the U.S. and the U.K. believe that brands are adequately representing diversity, according to Takumi’s survey.
  • In 2020, mattress brand Casper cited adverse influencer activity as a financial risk to its business.
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