Tag Archives: youtubers

Content Marketing and all things Barbie – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Mattel

Interview starts at 11:56

In the second part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Catherine Balsam Schwabar, Chief Content Officer at Mattel, on the topic of Branded Content, plus and all things Barbie!

with Mattel's Catherine Balsam Schwabar

with Mattel’s Catherine Balsam Schwabar

Catherine talked about how content is an expression of the brand in a different format and how brands are now looking at different ways to connect to consumers through the stories the brands have to tell.  She felt that Mattel were in a very fortunate position in that their brands are story driven and much of their narrative is around characters, which allows them to connect with both children and parents and a very content led environment, which works extremely well for them.

Catherine explained that Mattel has always led from a narrative driven standpoint and in fact were among the first companies to advertise to children on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Disney. But they have been producing content for a long time, when you consider the likes Thomas the Tank Engine or the movies that have featured Barbie in the past.

In fact, Catherine said that the narrative around Barbie’s character continues to evolve.  Barbie now has two new TV series coming out:

‘Dreamtopia’, which is actually about Chelsea, her younger sister:

Launching later this year, ‘Barbie’s Dream House Adventures’, which will be about Barbie and her sisters and puppies and the adventures they have.

Mattel think of Barbie as a person – she is now YouTube vlogger with Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in fact is very active on social media, plus she is now a fashion icon.

Whilst there has been some controversy recently around body image, Catherine said that within the Fashionistas line, Barbie has a celebration of diversity with different ethnicities and body shapes, which has been taken forward with Ken too, with the launch of a new selection of diverse dolls. She added that Mattel tries to think about diversity in all its products and that no matter who you are, you should be able to find yourself in the characters that Mattel is giving you to help you imagine what you can be in the future.   She said that this can be seen in BBDO’s ‘Imagine the possibilities’ campaign where the diverse dolls are seen front and centre in not only how the brand expresses itself to the consumer but also how the girls are expressing themselves back to the brand via social media.

Content is very effective for Mattel.  Catherine said that they recently teamed up with Hudson Media and ABC in the US to make a show call ‘The Toy Box’ where inventors bring their new toys to the show to be judged by kids.  She said it was very successful and the winning toy [ArtsplashTM], launched in May, sold out in many markets, and then appeared on eBay for four times the original price! A second season of The Toy Box is now in production.

They have a similar measurement around content they produce on YouTube for Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels, where they see a correlation between the connection their consumers have with that content and rising sales.

Catherine said that as long as the company is connecting authentically, on the right platform, reaching the right audience at the right time, it works for the business.  However, their biggest challenge is in keeping up with the rapidly changing relationship that consumers have with their screens.  Therefore, when thinking about narrative marketing, Mattel need to write for all different screens simultaneously and on a global scale.

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!

Inspiring Content Creators: Interview with Prince Ea & Fleishman Hillard: Cannes Lions csuitepodcast Part 5 of 9

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Starts at 8.34

I’m not going to lie; this was the best interview that I recorded at Cannes LionsPrince Ea is one of the humblest and most inspiring people I’ve interviewed so far in this podcast serie – below is a sample of his work.

It was a pleasure spending 15mins listening to him and finding out about his journey in becoming a Spoken Word Artist to fronting campaigns for brands such as Chevrolet.

Joining Prince Ea were Sean DallasKid, Partner for Content and Creative at Fleishman Hillard San Francisco and his colleague Miker Stovall who leads the creative team in their Dallas office.  All three of my guests had just finished presenting in ICCO’s House of PR on the topic ‘Brands as Activists: Shaking Up The World’, which Sean explained was about how brands have to be truly authentic to resonate with their audiences and that partnering with like-minded artists and content creators is one of the best ways to provide the trust that is needed to achieve it.

Prince Ea can be found across pretty much all social channels including Twitter and Instagram, but if you want to see him in action, visit his Facebook Page where he has over 3.6m likes or on YouTube where his videos have amassed over 66m views. Oprah, who he told me kissed him on the cheek only a few days before, used the words “Powerful Message, Visionary Filmmaker” when describing him.

You can’t help but want to listen when Prince talks.  Whilst he tries to inspire his audience with his work, his said that his own inspiration comes from people who embody love.  He explained that we live in a world where everything is very material, where everything is resisting love, and so he believes that people who have the courage to become love and to speak love is beautiful.  He used to be a fan of rappers like Jay Z and Eminem who he felt had amazing punchlines.  However, when he started reading ancient texts and scriptures by Buddha as well as the Gita, he soon realised their ‘punchlines’ were even more powerful and so he is also inspired by wisdom and truth.  Innovation and seeing people do things that have never been done before also inspires him.

Prince now gets approached by lots of brands and agencies to collaborate, but they would have to have the same authenticity and integrity as his own brand for him to consider working together.  The most important thing for him is synchronicity and alignment with the message and in fact in a lot of cases, it’s content that he would have produced even if a brand didn’t get behind it.  This also means that the feedback he gets from his followers is very positive.

The example that Miker showed in his presentation of where he has worked with Prince Ea was for Fleishman’s client Chevrolet in a campaign called #FuelYourHustle, as they were looking to partner with an artist who could inspire others to follow their passions, be successful and focus on what matters the most to them.

Working with Social Influencers can also work in a B2B environment too as Sean explained when he talked through a campaign he had produced for his technology client Avaya, which was all about Business Lingo.  In this instance, they collaborated with YouTube content creators Tripp and Tyler to produce a really clever and funny video.

What’s key in each of these examples, as indeed was discussed when I interviewed UK YouTuber Hannah Witton in Show 12 of the csuitepodcast on the topic of the Influence of Social Talent, is to allow the artists the freedom to create the content themselves.  However, as Sean explained, it takes trust with the client and artists for that to work.  As quoted by Simon Sinek in his popular Ted Talk (below), Sean said that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and so that’s the power of working with content creators in that they are not [playing] a role but are themselves, creating content that is authentic to them and people want to buy into that authenticity because they care. According to Sean, that is the new reality.

As for the future, Prince Ea wants to see more individualised approaches to technology and to content creators.  He believes that it’s easy for technology to become a distraction. He questions whether the technology that we’re creating is truly progressing us forward as a species as he wants content creators and app developers to instil positive habits into people as opposed to addictive habits that make money off of people.  He therefore hopes that the altruistic platforms develop and spread in the years to come.

If you are interested in getting involved in this series podcasts, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

The Influence of Social Talent (and the Minogue Sisters) – latest CIPR c-suite podcast

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Last week I recorded the 12th show in my podcast series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, with the topic this time being the influence of Social Talent.

YouTuber, Hannah Witton kicked off the show discussing how she launched her own channel, which started as a hobby during University and now, working with Triple A Media, has become her job.  She’s created a bit of a niche for herself by discussing sex and relationships on her channel, although was quick to say that she doesn’t want to ‘box herself in’ as she does a lot of other ‘stuff’ too.   However, it was due to the nature of her content that Durex recently approached her via Multi Channel Network (MCN) Channel Flip, to run a campaign for them.

If you haven’t seen the video, take a look below – it’s an excellent example of how a brand can work with a YouTuber:

The key to remember in this campaign is that, as well as ensuring everything was cleared legally, whilst Durex had certain key points that, as Hannah described, they wanted her to hit, she still had full editorial control.  This was a huge part of our discussion during the show, in terms of understanding the way these types of brand partnerships work.  For example, James Erskine, Strategy Director at The Big Shot, cited a great quote from another YouTuber, Jim Chapman, at a recent Drum conference, where Jim had said, ‘we’re not actors’ and explained that what The Big Shot say to their clients is that they will not have approval, but they will have veto, explaining the subtle distinction between ‘taking stuff out if it is inaccurate or legally wrong’, but not being able to insist on putting stuff in.

Hannah believes the reason brand partnerships work, like her one with Durex, is because when it comes to vlogging, as a YouTuber, she has a personal relationship with her audience, which, as long as that is kept authentic and transparent, her audience actually become really supportive in her being sponsored.  She explained that her subscribers can see that making YouTube videos is something she loves doing, are equally happy that it’s something she gets to do as her full time job and that they are clever enough to know that the way she does that is through working with brands.  However, with that particular Durex campaign, there was also a competition and a discount code, meaning her audience benefit too.

Interestingly, in terms of keeping a balance, James Hancock of Triple A Media said that for every sponsored YouTuber video we see, there may well be 10 that haven’t worked out, which could be because the Social Talent or the Talent Management have rejected it because it’s not right for that specific YouTuber.

There were also loads of really good insights into launching your own brand’s channel throughout the show from my fellow CIPRSM colleague Dom Burch, who is Senior Director for Marketing Innovation and New Revenue at Walmart in the UK.  Dom talked in a lot of detail and shared key learnings about how, with the help of Gleam Futures, they launched Asda’s UK channel ‘Mum’s Eye View’, which has grown to have over 168,000 subscribers, reaching over 8m views since launching in March last year.  Dom explained that effectively, they ‘rent’ the Social Talent’s audience, drawing a percentage of their audience from their own channels over to Mum’s Eye View when they appear there.  However, he is insistent that the YouTuber should never make a video for Mum’s Eye View that they would not be happy to post on their own channel.  He also explained how he measures ROI, saying that the amount he invests is worth every penny in reach alone.  He compared spending the budget on pay-per-view via pre-role on YouTube, where he could easily spend 10p to get one view on YouTube and the engagement is tiny.  He uses YouTube ‘thumbs up’ and comments as a way of measuring engagement as success, seeing tremendous results from the content created by the YouTubers on Mum’s Eye View, particularly as he hasn’t used media spend to drive people to the content.

A recommended way to discover which Social Talent to work with is via a new service launched by The Big Shot called Social Circle, which, as James explained, tiers talent in terms of size of audience (so not just the top YouTubers with the huge following) and places them across a number of different verticals.  The site is aiming to be a one stop shop in terms of allowing brands and agencies to brief multiple talents on their campaigns.

For any brand looking to enter this space of working with Social Talent on YouTube for the first time, there were a number of important tips throughout the podcast, which included:

  • Do your due diligence and watch the YouTuber’s channel and understand their content so that you get to know them, which will help you pick the right Social Talent to work with
  • Get to know what your target audience are watching – there are loads of niche channels – it’s not all make up and beauty!
  • Let go of control and accept that, whilst you will have a brief, this is the YouTuber’s content
  • Ask the Talent, Talent Management and/or MCN for a breakdown of the audience reached
  • Approach the vlogger or their agent with an idea but respect the media, which in this case is the vlogger themselves, and build a relationship with them
  • Be honest and transparent as a brand
  • Ensure you are aware of ASA guidelines
  • Remember it’s not just about YouTube – there are multiple platforms to consider that Social Talent use to reach your target audience

All the above aside, the biggest debate for me to have come out of this whole discussion was for, as Dom described, the older listeners to my podcasts, and whether you are in Team Kylie & Neighbours (Dom’s vote) or Team Dannii & Home & Away (my vote) – feel free to let me know your choice below!

Oh, and of course, please do share any other comments you might have on working with Social Talent.  You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved in this series, please do get in touch with directly.

Time to update to Charades

My wife just said to me, “I’ve got half hour left of my book.”

I just don’t get it.  If you read my last post, you’ll know I am a fan of old fashion, touchy feely books.  When you’re reading a book, you have 54 pages left, or two chapters left.  But for Kindle users, like my wife, you have 30mins left, or 11%.

I argued that if you’re watching a film, you can say you have 30mins left, but a book has pages or chapters left to go, my justification being, when you play charades, if you are describing a book title, you place your hands together like you are about to pray, and unfold your palms, like opening a book.  You don’t hold one palm out, and take your index finger of the other hand and keep touching your other palm with it!

So it got me thinking, what other forms of media need new descriptions in that classic old game.  The topic of my next c-suite podcast that I am recording this week for the CIPR’s Social Media panel is on the influence of Social Talent, focussing on YouTubers.  If you were playing charades with my two kids, rather than ‘Morecambe & Wise’, or ‘Jaws’ (we have a very old set of clues!) a more relevant clue for them to describe would be ‘Danisnotonfire’.

So how would they do that?

It’s one word, five syllables.  OK.  But how do you describe a YouTube channel?  Drawing a big box in the air with your finger for the TV screen won’t work.

Well, thanks to the good old interweb, it looks like the team at Outsetmedia are already thinking about this kind of thing.  They have the following additions to what they list as ‘Standard Signals’:

  • Computer Game – Using both hands move your thumbs like you are using a game pad.
  • Website – Hold one hand out, palm down, horizontal to the ground, as if holding a computer mouse. Make a sweeping motion side to side, then stop and tap index finger as if “clicking”.

So there you have it, Christmas day is sorted, and it’s only August.

The CIPR Social Media Panel c-suite podcast is available to subscribe and download from iTunes.  Please do rate and review it too so that we can climb the ‘Management and Marketing’ podcast charts.

Paid Social – the latest CIPR Social Media Panel csuite podcast

Trying to cover off such a huge topic of Paid Social in a half hour podcast is quite a task, but last week, I managed to get through a number of aspects within this important element of social media with Farhad Koodoruth, Managing Director of Threepipe, and Vikki Chowney, Director of Content & Publishing Strategies at H+K Strategies in Show 10 of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel c-suite podcast series.

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The areas covered off in the show included, amongst others:

  1. Promoted posts and tweets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  2. Paying influencers such as YouTubers
  3. Content discovery platform, Outbrain
  4. LinkedIn

Farhad explained that the reason why paying to amplify posts is so important is because organic reach on platforms such as Facebook are in the single percentages. [For some good stats on Facebook organic reach, see socialbakers report from earlier this year.] He also added that paying for social reach of content also enables them to track the activity about what people look at, click on and pages they visit and loop it back into a broader marketing plan in terms of reengaging those users later on, highlighting his company’s NatWest T20 Blast Cricket campaign as a successful case study.

However, the impact that paid for posts are having on the user experience was highlighted by a blog post we discussed from Stephen Waddington’s 16 year old daughter, Ellie, called ‘The not-so-secret Internet diary of a Gen Z teenage girl’, where she wrote that one of the reasons she likes Instagram so much is that ‘the apparent lack of advertising allows it to stand out from other social media sites because almost all of the content you come across is personal, as opposed to the hundreds of sponsored posts and spam videos that you have to trawl through on Facebook.’  Unfortunately for Ellie though, Farhad said that Facebook had announced that small to media sizes businesses will be able to advertise on Instagram from September, but he agreed that the commercial imperative for all platforms is one they will have to work out in terms of getting the right balance between what they can commercialise and not ‘pissing off’ their users to the point of how Ellie described her experience.  Vikki said she wasn’t surprised to hear Ellie’s views and that it’s a trap that most of the platforms have fallen into at some stage or another.

This led us onto a discussion about paying influencers such as YouTubers, something, that I’m hoping to dedicate an entire podcast to.  Vikki talked in depth on this but made the important point that it’s our responsibility as marketers to use the data and tools that are available to us to track people with real influence, and not just the ones who are the biggest names [in this space] and not be so lazy and use the same people time and time again.

In the meantime, my recommendation to anyone who still hasn’t quite got their head round how influential some of them can be, particularly for that younger audience like Ellie, is to watch the film ‘The Creators’, which premiered on The Drum in March, and follows Zoella and a few other YouTubers behind the scenes in terms of them creating content and events that they attend.

The final areas we discussed were how platforms such as Outbrain and Linkedin, help drive traffic to blog content, both for B2B as well as B2C activity, with Farhad highlighting work Threepipe are doing with fashion retailer, Reiss, and Vikki talking through campaigns she works on for Intel.

You can keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved in this series of podcasts, please use this form, or twitter using #cirpcsuite