Influencers and celebrities can be potent content creators for brands that know how to use them the right way, explains Hady Hajjar.
Hady Hajjar, founder of celebrity and influencer marketing agency, HuManagement, explains how modern social media trends have transformed the way brands interact with the rich and famous, and how organizations can best approach this specific type of content.
How has the surge of social media influencers changed the way celebrities approach their own content?
The growth of influencers and the fact that a lot of clients decided to invest in them instead of brand ambassadorships, have made celebrities rethink what they want to do. The smart, early adopters incorporated social media in their daily lives, and their social media pages are now the way they communicate with the younger generation that spends 60 or 70% of their time on their phones. They don’t need TV to show their work anymore; they have YouTube, Netflix, etc. They have no choice but to create content the same way influencers do.
Celebrities’ main attraction used to be how they were inaccessible, dream-like. Has this aspect disappeared with the sense of proximity that social media affords?
This ‘unreachable star’ point of view was very beneficial in the past. But today, a celebrity who’s not active and doesn’t speak to their audience on these platforms will lose influence. For example, in the Middle East, Amr Diab is a major artist who was seen as completely out of reach. However, lately, he has radically changed his strategy: he’s more on the ground; he’s going out to coffee shops; he’s exposing his personal life – which he would never have done before.
How has this evolution transformed the way brands use celebrities?
To be a brand’s ambassador used to mean doing a traditional TVC, a photoshoot, and that’s it. Not anymore. Now, you can see celebrities doing a campaign for three months, including video content, pictures, posts, etc. Snackable, fast content is the key. The best solution today is scripted, reality content: a nice, high-quality video that viewers will think was not prepared, that will pretend to be organic. For example, we did a campaign with a big celebrity that included two videos: one made by the client with very high production value; and another that was filmed as a making-of and was ‘leaked’ voluntarily. The second video got ten times more views than the video that costs $100,000.
When should brands go for influencers vs celebrities? And what kind of content would they get from each?
The best scenario, if the client is really willing to invest, is to have a mix of traditional media, a celebrity face for the brand, and influencers’ tactical campaigns.
The difference between a celebrity and an influencer is that with a celebrity, you get more credibility: a celebrity who works with a brand today will not work with a competitor for at least two years, contrary to an influencer. Influencers can be used in tactical, short-term campaigns that will enhance sales, bring footfall for certain offers or activations. The celebrity will give you an image; the influencer will give you reach with the audience. The smart brands mix and match. For example, Cartier chose a face from the Middle East for the first time ever – Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri – and worked with influencers for events and activations.
What shouldn’t a brand ask a celebrity to do online?
For big celebrities, we usually create content that resembles and keeps with their image, which means you cannot have a celebrity talking about a product and its benefits in a very informative way. He/she’s not a supermarket; he/she should not hold the product. A celebrity will deliver the right image and credibility to the audience and the client. So, usually, we create videos, we create posts, and we do activations with meet & greets. A lot of big endorsements deals do not include TV commercials anymore; they include online videos – on which a good production budget will be spent – boosted on YouTube with a pre-roll. You see this especially during Ramadan.
How do you keep content relevant and prolong its shelf life?
It’s a mix because staying relevant means long-shelf content doesn’t last anymore. Before, a TVC with a brand ambassador would remain on the air for two years; but today, I cannot keep spending on TV for two years. Instead, I dedicate half of this budget to snackable, fast food content with a celebrity or a talent. Lots of our campaigns won awards but they are forgotten now because something else came up that is now top-of-mind. What was the campaign from two years ago that you remember? I wouldn’t be able to name one; and I would remember better campaigns from ten years ago.