Standing the test of time

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See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.

Standing the test of time

October 20, 2020

A taste that stood the test of time. Every South African knows these words. It elicits an almost Pavlovian response to raise a glass and shout out: To Charles!

You may be wondering what sparked these thoughts. Well, the big news for R-Squared Digital was our move into stunning new offices at the Old Castle Brewery in Woodstock, Cape Town. This bright, airy and amazing new space is sure to get our creativity and our joie de vivre amped up to record levels.

But it also had another effect, on me anyway. Walking around this building, seeing walls that have been here since 1901, imagining what has happened, what people did, how they lived and what they dreamed about in an iconic location that is over 100 years old got me thinking about our modern life and, in particular, our modern industry of Influencer Marketing.

And what history will say about our young industry in 100 years. Will we still be relevant? Will we still have a place in the bigger scheme of things?

I must say that I believe that the answer is a resounding ABSOLUTELY YES!
History has shown the power of having a recognised face to drive interest in your brand. Aunt Jemima (controversial now, but a major turning point for how advertising became personal), Santa Claus (Coca-Cola), the Marlboro Man, George Clooney and Nespresso.

Influencer Marketing took this lead and amplified it exponentially by giving brands the power of a personalised voice, authentic engagement with an audience that was receptive and opted-in to the messaging. And it has proven to be massively effective, especially in the modern pandemic times where people are looking for connections in a time of quarantine.

The future can only build on history. We will learn from our successes and our mistakes. We are already aware of how our audience reacts to false impressions and fake endorsements and it’s driving the industry to actively create unique and authentic content that resonates. It’s showing agencies and clients that Influencer Marketing is about more than a face, it’s about a connection, a personal touchpoint that is a part of the influencer’s life story that is then woven into the fabric of the campaign.

And we are just scratching the surface.

Already we are seeing virtual influencers becoming a part of the story. Whether or not they will become entrenched is something we will only see in the future. At the moment they are a fad, a trend that is different and new and therefore interesting. How audiences respond in the long run is unknown but we are watching – and participating with great interest.

Advertising and marketing have been around for thousands of years.

Wherever someone has something to sell, whether it’s a product, an idea or an innovation, you will need people who best know how to reach and engage with an audience. That will never change. What will change is how. Technology, human needs and interests, the situation, the world are all mutable, are all ever-changing. And how we interact changes with them.

But one thing never changes – our yearning for a human connection, our need for validation and recognition and the understanding that comes with finding someone who shares our voice.

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Is influencer marketing a new phenomenon?

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See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.

Is influencer marketing a new phenomenon?

June 4, 2020

In 1890, Nancy Green became the face of “Aunt Jemima”. She was hired by RT Davis Milling to be the face of their pancake mix. She was a pioneer in influencer marketing (she was the first black female model and activist, and she was the first face of a brand), influencing a generation of readymade pancake mix buyers.

In 1905, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (American silent movie actor) endorsed Murad, Turkish cigarettes. This paved the way for celebrity endorsements.

Before 1931, Santa Claus was depicted as a gaunt man, an evil-looking elf, alternately wore a bishop’s robe and a Norse huntsman’s animal skin. Artist Haddon Sundblom painted the Santa we know today, drinking a bottle of Coca Cola. This was the first time a fictional character became the face of a brand.

MTV began as a 24-hour platform for music videos and debuted 1 August 1981. The network struggled in its early years, playing clips repetitively, until the launch of the “I want my MTV” campaign. MTV’s Les Garland convinced his friend Mick Jagger to shout the line into the camera. The campaign steamrolled from there with artists like David Bowie and Pete Townshend jumping on board, causing a significant rise in cable tv subscriptions.

The rise of social media created a platform for a new category of influencers to arise, and for all categories, celebrities and other, to share in their own way online, splitting the market. Before, the influencer was in a tv ad campaign (highly scripted) or on a billboard, versus influencer marketing where influencers share personal messages in their own voice.

We recently discussed the rise of virtual influencers and avatars, and we questioned their relatability and whether virtual influencers become a real and significant part of the marketing landscape in the future. What do you think?

Michelle Marais, Digital Marketing Manager

Michelle Marais

Michelle Marais is the Digital Marketing Manager at R-Squared, a leading influencer marketing agency partnering with some of the largest brands in South Africa and internationally. Our team focuses on out of the box solutions for authenticity in influencer marketing.

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