Category Archives: Influencer Marketing

Brands and Music Artists + Era of the Engineer – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Young Guru and Jerald Cooper

Interview starts at 19:07

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Part three of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions was probably my favourite interview this year at Cannes, as I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with two truly inspiration gentlemen – Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, Young Guru, and talent manager and entrepreneur Jerald Cooper.  Guru is best known as Jay-Z’s personal music engineer and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as ‘the most influential man in hip hop that you have never heard of’.  He had just taken part in a panel discussion organised by FleishmanHillard titled ‘Talking Tunes and Human Truths’ that took place in the ICCO House of PR, where they discussed how music effects people and how to become and remain authentic to what you are doing – he feels that authenticity is a huge part of advertising, PR and marketing.  He also said they talked about the challenges of choices you have to make when dealing with PR in terms of issues you may want to represent and how you can best do that, as well as how agencies can work with the creatives [music artists] they want to use.  We therefore continued that discussion in our podcast interview, but also got on to chat about their own project called ‘Era of the Engineer’.

In terms of how brands are working with musicians, Guru explained that it’s very different now – it’s no longer about assuming if you align your product with an artist, then the artist’s fan base will move to that product.  Instead, the fan base needs a reason to like the product and so the product has to fit into the life of who those people are. It’s therefore not about choosing the biggest artist to fit with your brand but the most effective.

Guru said that now is an important time for artists to be working with brands, particularly as the music industry has changed, with album sales that artists used to rely on not as large anymore due to the internet.  However, he said the artist has taken the album out of the centre of the circle and replaced it with themselves as the brand.  He therefore believes connecting with companies that can represent or support your brand as an artist is great, but those companies still have to coincide with the ethos of what you are as an artist.

When discussing how Young Guru works with brands himself, Jerald added that one of the key aspects in choosing who you work with is ‘purpose’, both on the brand and artist side.  In fact, he sees it as a trend where he feels that in the next three years, there won’t be a marketing campaign without purpose, which lead nicely onto the subject of Guru and Jerald’s own pet project, ‘Era of the Engineer’.

As a young black male growing up, Guru said that he was into engineering, wanting to know how things were built and constructed, but it was hard to get his friends involved as it was something that was seen as uncool and nerdy. His plan, therefore, with ‘Era of the Engineer’ is to make tall types of engineering cool – not just musical engineering and the draw of working with the highest paid artists, but the understanding that everything has been engineered.

He gave examples, that, as he described, may not be seen as sexy, but running the sound at the McDonalds Drive Through has to be engineered and it’s a job that pays! Therefore, whilst he can draw kids in through his involvement in the music industry, he can then show them all types of engineering. He said that at the moment, coding is the biggest thing and that everyone wants to invent an app, sell it and be the next Mark Zuckerberg, yet there are countries that need infrastructure. and that we will need people who know how to build roads and maintain them. He feels that whilst coding is important and is the language of the future, we need all other types of engineers – we live in a physical world, so we need people who know how to build the physical things, be that roads or the spaceship that’s going to go to Mars.  He added that it is all very nice to make the next app that is sold for millions of dollars but it is rare to achieve that, just like only 10% of people make it as professional sports people.

Jerald added that it will be hard for anyone to try and identify something that has not been engineered and so entering into engineering via sports or any part of culture makes it cool.

Guru and Jerald therefore want to change the culture – they want it to be important to know the facts, to get to the stage where your friends will think you are weird if you don’t know this information. For example, even if you are into fashion, the machines that make the clothes have been engineered, and if you think into the future, you’ll need engineering to make the 3d printers that can make shirts or sneakers.

You can find out more information about Young Guru and Jerald Coopers’ project on the website – eraoftheengineer.com.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Influencer Marketing in the Fashion Industry – csuitepodcast interview with Levi’s


Show 41 of the csuitepodcast was recorded at PRWeek’s 2017 PR360 and the second of my three guests was the Europe and UK PR Director of Levi’s, Morven Mackinnon, who had just taken part in a panel discussion on influencer marketing. (Interview starts at 20min)

Russ-and-Morven-cutMorven has held her position as PR Director for around six years, and she explained how the nature of how we do PR has changed quite significantly, specifically on how social media influencers have become a more important part of the overall mix over the past few years, and how using these influencers takes a different mind and skill set to that of using traditional media.

Morven talked about how important it is to get the balance between platforms and experience.  She said that whilst Levi’s may be using as many channels as possible, it is necessary to understand how they all link, as this affects the way in which products are marketed and how brands keep the support of their customers.  Looking further into social media marketing, she explained that using online influencers can offer a share of voice on a channel that perhaps you may not have had otherwise.  Therefore, when Levi’s are selecting social media influencers to work with, Morven stated that while obviously the size of their reach is important for getting the brand’s message out, there are other aspects that are important too. Naturaly, from the fashion industry point of view, visual channels such as Instagram and YouTube will feature heavily. Morven also mentioned Snapchat as a new visual platform, and whilst she feels its relevance is being questioned since the launch of Instagram stories, she feels it does still cater for a particular audience.

Morven also said that podcasts are becoming more popular in the fashion world as a form or marketing. However, she argues that the world of influencers is becoming ever more crowded and at some point they will need to find a way to differentiate themselves from everyone.

There are many things that go into choosing the right influencer to collaborate with, which Morven said is a challenge for the brand, but ultimately the audience must feel that the relationship that the brand and the influencer have is an authentic one. Factors include the number of followers, but also who is following them; social engagement levels in the form of likes or comments; and the fact that, as she previously mentioned, the fashion industry is a very visual market.  This led her to say that the aesthetics of an influencer’s profile is an extremely important aspect in the process of picking the right influencer. Morven also said that she also looks at what other brands an influencer is working with as that gives her the chance to see whether the influencer would also be a good fit for Levi’s.

It is also important to make sure the influencers that are chosen are genuine about wanting to be part of Levi’s and so they are regularly invited to events, such as those at their VIP gifting suites in Central London and LA, and encouraged to pick out products in order for them to understand the brand values.  This enables Levi’s so see if there is a genuine connection with them.  The key is that Levi’s are looking for long term relationships and do not want influencers who see the opportunity as, what Morven described as a short term pay cheque.

Whilst the world of marketing and PR is changing and influencer marketing is now the focus of what Morven is doing, she believes that traditional media is still important and critical in the mix as it gives credibility in the fashion industry. However, she said social media can reach a different and often younger audience.

Morven said that Levi’s was fortunate to have some great campaigns with some really good influencers. For example, they partnered with Chiara Ferragini (below) of The Blonde Salad, an Italian YouTuber and Instagrammer, to set up a capsule product collection that was sold in selective and exclusive retailers across Europe.

via theblondesalad.com

Levi’s took Chiara out to their Innovation Lab in San Francisco to create the designs, and so this collaborative collection allowed for Chiara’s followers to feel both part Levi’s community and Chiara’s.

The collection sold out everywhere almost instantly, which as Morven mentions, is a clear way of seeing how much influence such YouTubers have and how this can benefit brands.

Finally, Morven said that the world of influencers is becoming increasingly crowded and almost every influencer now has an agent. She therefore believes that while it is important to use social influencers, there aren’t enough ‘marketing dollars’ to finance everyone with an Instagram account and so it is important for the influencers to be able to differentiate themselves, potentially diversifying across different channels and standing out enough to keep their relationship with the brands going. She added that it is just as important for brands to keep on top of the changing processes too and therefore suggests that brands need to work out new ways to keep influencers wanting to work with them, asking “how can we offer unique experiences to influencers that will make them genuinely want to post about the brand, outside of campaigns”.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the website, Soundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!