Johnny Hornby and Jenny Halpern Prince launch industry-first consultancy partnering brands with digital influencers
WPP-backed communications group The&Partnership has today announced the launch of The&Collective – a talent agency partnering brands with influencers on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The first talent agency to be born from within the UK’s media industry, The&Collective will draw on cross-discipline insights from across the media, marketing and advertising group, offering new avenues for brands to grow advocacy and credibly promote their products.
The agency, which counts Unilever among its first clients, will meet growing demand among marketers to work with authentic social talent. Recent studies show 75% of marketers are now investing in influencer marketing (Augur), with 60% of brands saying they will increase the amount they spend on it in 2015-16 (Ad Week). Research into the profitability of influencer marketing has revealed that businesses make an average of £6.50 for every £1 spent on influencer marketing (Tomoson), and that customers acquired through social influencers have a 37% higher retention rate, while brands leveraging social influencers are seeing up to a 10x increase in conversion rates (McKinsey).
The&Collective will be the only end-to-end service agency in the industry, from scouting and managing talent through to working with brands on the final output of their campaigns – setting it apart from existing talent agencies, which represent up-and-coming YouTubers, but not brands.
Overseen by specialists in PR, digital marketing and data-driven distributon, the agency will offer impartial counsel to both parties, from securing the right talent to using the most appropriate channels and controlling the final message. The&Collective will help brands reach and drive long-term engagement with their target audiences, as well as offering influencers counsel and guidance on how best to market themselves and their online presence.
The&Partnership founder Johnny Hornby said: “There are agents and there are traditional talent management companies out there, but I can’t see anyone else doing this. Jenny and her team are already signing up an unfair share of the influencer talent, and the brands we’re working with across The&Partnership can see the scale of reach and engagement offered by digital influencers who are already admired and trusted by thousands of followers."
The&Collective’s influencer roster includes Maddie Bruce, Lucy Flight, Blake Steven, Charlotte Hole, Sarah Ashcroft, Tia Ward, Jodie Porteous. The agency’s offering for these influencers will include a data-driven rewards programme, remunerating them on a commission basis for sales driven directly by their content.
Jenny Halpern Prince, founder of PR agency Halpern, who will head up The&Collective, said: “It’s no secret – the world is shifting to social media. And consequently there has been an increase in brands wanting to invest in influencer marketing – they are realising that digital influencers can reach and influence millions of engaged followers. The&Collective is more than matching digital influencers with brands, though – we will use our creative and brand storytelling expertise to help craft the ideas. Unlike a traditional ‘talent management’ operation, we are not a middle man – we are the catalyst for creative brand communications.”
Over the past year Halpern has seen significant success from campaigns launched in collaboration with digital influencers, such as Avon’s ‘Wall of Silence’, combatting domestic abuse, and its recent ‘Lady Garden Campaign’ in association with The Gynaecological Cancer Fund and Topshop. ‘Lady Garden’ saw digital influencers, including Alexa Chung, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Cara Delevingne, come together on Instagram to raise awareness of the symptoms of gynaecological cancer. The campaign reached over 40m people on Instagram within 24 hours – more than the combined circulations of the UK’s ten biggest print publications.
Halpern Prince, who has helped found three charities – work experience charity Access Aspiration, the Gynaecological Cancer Fund and Great Ormond Street Hospital’s ‘Save The Day’ arm – is also mindful of the importance of working with social talent to channel authentic messages which empower fans, creating content they identify with rather than presenting them with an unrealistic lifestyle which might have a less positive impact.
“We are an agency with a soul and a conscience,” said Halpern Prince. “Social media can be used to create armies of people to tackle negative messages and empower communities. Given our deep connections with multiple charities, creating positive movements that change lives for the better will be a key focus for us.”
Founding client Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever, said: “We’re excited to be working with The&Collective. They’ve got a great line-up of up-and-coming talent who offer real engagement potential, which we’re already putting to good use with brands like Dove and Sure. The importance of influencer marketing within the brand comms mix is only going to grow, as younger generations in particular value authenticity and word–of–mouth recommendations over more traditional marketing messages. It’s also great to see that in Jenny’s new talent agency, there is a real focus on ensuring the content their talent creates is empowering for viewers.”
With Jenny Halpern Prince at its helm, The&Collective will be headed up by Halpern’s digital and social media expert Lynsey Smith, whilst drawing on the data-driven expertise of The&Partnership’s media agency m/SIX and Halpern’s own editorial communications credentials.