Balenciaga News, Influencers as Scapegoats, Are Influencers Salespeople or Marketers? - Ep 41

Fohr
James Nord
December 14, 2022
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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Welcome to Negronis with Nord. Today’s episode covers the Balenciaga scandal and what this means for influencers, plus James breaks down the agency and influencer strategy when creating a campaign. You can submit your questions for future episodes here.

Below is a transcript of the full episode for your reading pleasure. Make sure to subscribe to the Fohr YouTube channel to get notified of new episodes.

Sausage egg McMuffins for all

James: Negronis with Nord, episode number 41. I am reporting live the day after the Fohr holiday party, hence the coffee and the sweater. I feel like if I go out decently hard the next day, I, I have a hard time like putting on it. The idea of like putting on a tie is always like, just too exhausting and too much for me. So what am I talking about here? It's a sweater day. I have already had my McDonald's sausage egg McMuffin this morning. I am feeling on the up and up and excited to talk to y'all today.

Quick aside, I wanted McDonald's this morning, and so to alleviate some of my guilt and shame that I feel for eating McDonald's, I offered it to the entire office and made them partake as well. So then I felt like I was just doing something nice for my employees, when really I just didn't want to be sitting in my office by myself in shame eating a sausage egg McMuffin. So I don't know what the lesson is there other than you know, sometimes if you really want fast food, it's good to just buy it for a bunch of other people as well because then at least you're not alone.

Let's talk about Balenciaga

James: I'm gonna start with talking about Balenciaga. This has obviously been a pretty dominant story in the social fashion world recently. I won't get into the whole, you know, background of what happened. Balenciaga has had to backtrack and apologize for some offensive campaigns they did involving children, holding bears, wearing all this ******* material, and then a shoot that had a bunch of papers on this desk. And some of them were from a Supreme Court case over child pornography. Balenciaga is suing the production company that did the shoots for 25 million and claiming that they have no idea how this happened, or, you know, they have no idea what happened and first absolutely called ******** on that.

There's no way that Balenciaga a house that very tightly controls everything that they do. Were not involved in campaign imagery and didn't have Balenciaga people on set directing what was happening. Also, Balenciaga has basically been trolling fashion and its customers for, you know, the last five years or so. They're trolls, I think in like a clever and artistic way, but certainly a big part of the shtick is like, what can we get away with? I think part of, you know, the creative director's whole thing, and he did this at, I can't pronounce, I think it's them all as well, what can I get people to buy, right? Like, I'm gonna slap a ridiculous price on something and get my customers to buy it as like a piece of performance art. So I absolutely think this is just another, another example of Balenciaga pushing the envelope and they just pushed too far this time and they pushed into a place that is just off limits, which is abusive children and sexualizing young children.

What the Balenciaga scandal means for influencers

James: I think what it's concerning for influencers and why I'm talking about this at all on a show about influencers and influencer marketing is that they sued the creative agency, you know, and I think that it opened my eyes up again to some of the risk that y'all take on when you work with a brand.

Imagine instead of that creative agency, they executed that campaign through influencers and they sued the influencers that they worked with. It was really no no different. The actual like structure of what happened is exactly the same. And so y'all are opening yourselves up to some liability when you work with brands. And I think that it is why it's so important to be comfortable and believe in what you're posting. It's why it's so important to feel comfortable and make sure your values are aligned with the brands that you're working with.

Because, you know, part of the reason that brands work with agencies is to have a scapegoat, right? When something goes wrong, they have somebody they can point to and say, well, this, this person did it. It wasn't us. We fired them. You know, whether it's their fault or not. If we have a couple of bad quarters, they just say, well, we fired our CMO, it was their fault, and they are gone, and so now we're gonna turn a new leaf, right? As influencers again, I think you just have to be conscious and careful of that. This was very surprising to me that again, that Balenciaga went after, you know, this production company for $25 million. They're a multi-billion dollar organization. This production company is not a, a hugely large organization. And again, I, I think it's ******** to say that they weren't deeply involved in the creative direction and the set design of that shoot.

But again, something to think about and to, you know, read over your contracts, look at the disparagement clause. Look at what liability you are taking on as an influencer when you do these campaigns because your level of liability is absolutely not zero.

Is influencer marketing outsourcing sales and marketing? Does that make influencers salespeople or marketers?

James: Viewer question: Is influencer marketing just outsourcing the sales and marketing department from the brand side? And does it make influencers, salespeople's marketers from the creator side? And is this a liability for both parties?

We talked a little bit about this in a episode that I did not think was gonna be controversial, but was a little controversial where I said that it is dangerous for influencers to think that their job is creating content and just that my job is creating and posting this content. Your job is selling their ******* products. If you aren't approaching your partnerships from that point of view, that you're doing yourself a disservice. We're not gonna trudge up that old argument today. This is kind of adjacent to that.

So in an ideal partnership, the way this should work is that a brand is coming to you. They've got a product or a campaign that they want you to be a part of or, or, or to promote. So let's say it is beginning of November, you book a campaign with a makeup brand. They've got a new eyeshadow palette. They are really hoping to push for holiday fun. I don't know, a bunch of fun colors glitter. I'm saying this because I had like glitter eyeshadow on last night at our holiday party after a while. So they come to you and they say, we've got this product. We are really hoping to kind of push the message that this is like a great way to kind of complete your holiday party look, right?

So that is the strategy, is to have this product be purchased by people to use going to holiday parties, right? Their KPI might be in this case that they are looking for, you know, traffic to the website and general awareness, right? So they come to you with that brief, but that's just a strategy, right? You, you, you're not gonna just post a photo of the thing and say, Hey, this is great for holiday parties. Swipe up to buy, right?

So they come with the strategy and then your job is to translate that with, you know, some sort of creative layer, some storytelling on top of it. So it is your job to translate that strategy, which is this eyeshadow for holiday into something that your audience is going to find persuasive and interesting and entertaining, educational, whatever it might be. And five influencers on a campaign.

They might do it in a different way, right? One person might do a TikTok tutorial, you know, using a bunch of different shades and colors showing all the different ways you can use it. Somebody else might just get glammed up for the holiday party and sh and shoot some kind of glam shoot. You know, there's a lot of different ways influencers would translate that, but the strategy is the same, right? And so when, when we work with brands, this is what we do. We, we set strategy and then we partner with influencers who bring the creative layer and who translate that strategy for their audience. Cause ideally, you know, the audience that follows you better than anyone else in the world, right? Those people, whether it's 550,000 or 500,000, those people only exist in that space because of you. The only time that, that those people are together and in one group is following you.

And so you should understand them deeply, and we're counting on you to be able to translate our strategy to your audience. Now, we'll have creative direction and we'll have, you know, some prompts or some ideas, right? The, the brand might say, I really want it to be like flash photography and feel very like night and going out. And so then that helps you again as you're translating that strategy to stay away from, you know, shooting anything during the day. And so for us, it's about creating guardrails for y'all to be creative in a bad brief from a brand would be like, Hey, we just want you to promote this product. Do whatever you want. You know, that's really hard actually. Like I find the times that I'm often most creative is when there are like constraints, you know, when I have some guardrails, not if you just like you can do anything, then sometimes it's, it's hard to know what to do at all.

And so if you're working with a brand and they haven't given you what you feel as a strategy, you push them for that. You know, you should say, okay, well what, what are you hoping to accomplish here? Is there, do you have a mood board? Do you have any creative direction? What are your KPIs? All of these things are gonna help you to translate it, right?

Influencers are more the creative agency than the sales and marketing team.

James: As an influencer, you're not replacing the marketing and sales teams. Absolutely not. You know, you are starting to replace a bit of the like creative agency, right? Cuz you are like creating the content. And then you're also the media that delivers the content. And if you think of traditional advertising, it was brand at it, creative agency, media agency consumer, right? So brand says, Hey, I wanna sell this product. Ad agency comes up with a strategy and a creative media agency, places that media into ads, consumers consume it.

So now brand has a strategy, goes to influencer, you create the content, you deliver the content, right? So you're the kind of last two parts of that step. Creative agency, media agency and you are in charge of, again, translating the strategy and then delivering that to a, you know, qualified and targeted audience that they are trying to reach. And again, I'll just say it, ultimately all advertising is judged on its ability to eventually sell product. If we're not selling product eventually, then there's no use in paying for the advertising. As always, please ask questions. If you haven't watched last week's episode, we had Phoebe Bain, who had just started the new job this week at Adage, one of my favorite reporters in the creator space, has written some incredible stuff. We had a great conversation. Make sure you check that out. And as always ask questions, like, subscribe, send me a compliment. You know, I'm not I'm human. I I can use your compliments as well. So thank you. We'll see you next week.

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Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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