Celebrity or social influencer? For a long time, marketing jobs have been pocketed by actors, sport champions, top models and VIP personalities, while today new “heroes” are becoming protagonists of communication engaging consumers of the same community, trend or lifestyle circle.

The era of influencers has started – be them bloggers, youtubers, street photographers, chefs, talent show winners or simply accomplished professionals. Apparently less popular personalities are the new protagonists of traditional campaigns and more virtual communities chat about the coolest items seen on the web.

Blauer Campaign fall/winter '15
Blauer Campaign fall/winter '15


The power of advocacy
It is harder today devising the most effective communication strategy especially because consumers can be reached through so many different channels, including a widespread, pulverized and hard to measure digital experience. “One has to act like sitting in front of a dashboard using as many media and channels as possible,” commented Shubhankar Ray, global brand director of Amsterdam-based denim label G-Star, giving an example of such a multichannel communication activity with their launch of the Raw for the Ocean collection designed in collaboration with Pharrell Williams. “When we showed our first new collection for New York Fashion Week in 2014 we got about 20,000 tweets as post-release results, though thanks to Pharrell Williams we reached 100,000 tweets. Our message was amplified thanks to his advocacy. He worked for us as an accelerator, because celebrities - and people in general - have become media.” If in the past the more you paid your testimonial the more you could sell - now it all depends on what personalities you involve, what they say and do. It is not their face, but the awareness they generate, the impact of what they say and do (and also because everyone is much more literate and can look up everything on internet).

Photo of street photographer Nabile Quenum by Adam Katz Sinding
Photo of street photographer Nabile Quenum by Adam Katz Sinding


Other faces of a brand
Other brands prefer to focus on personalities that do generate followers on social networks, who are less renowned. Cheap Monday, for instance, has involved some fashion influencers and creatives for its Borrowed Jeans project, including Carl Malmgren, their denim collection head designer. “We are not interested in celebrities. We are interested in creators and people who stand up to create stuff on their own terms. We would only work with people that have a natural affinity to our brand and who have their own defined point of view and motivation about fashion, lifestyle and creative expression,” explained Nadia Kokni, Head of Marketing at Cheap Monday. Similarly Meltin’Pot’s f/w 2015 campaign has worked with seven young people from different countries of the world including photographers, bloggers, youtubers and street artists stressing their idea of a brand originating from a mix of international cultures.

Streetphotography – the next art
Arousing visibility among the youngest and coolest also needs to engage the professionals who are in contact with them. For the launch of their young design men’s model Nebula sneaker footwear brand Geox, for instance, has worked with two well-known street photographers shooting popular bloggers. The two photographers count some significant advocacy. Adam Katz Sinding (@le21eme) is a US photographer from San Francisco who lives in NYC and counts 60k fans on Facebook and 375k followers on Instagram. Nabile Quenum (@jaiperdumaveste) is a Parisian streetstyle photographer who counts for 150k followers on Instagram. Not bad for a brand willing to grow in the younger men’s segment pushing their idea of footwear for modern travelers.

Belen Rodriguez and Paul Marciano
Belen Rodriguez and Paul Marciano


Are VIPs still cool?
To a certain extent top models, sport champions, actors and VIP personalities continue to be cool. Most often they simply ask for higher cachet to address a wider and more heterogeneous audience – also including older age groups.

These other brands involve personalities that they share the same vision with and with who they can personify the identity of their brand or product. Replay, for instance, has chosen Neymar Jr as ambassador, the FC Barcelona star player and captain of the Brazil national football team. “Neymar Jr is an amazing champion, an icon, an inspirational figure who excites and energizes the public thanks to the passion and determination he demonstrates on and off the field,” commented Matteo Sinigaglia, owner Replay. “Similar values are what Replay is all about.” Similarly Skechers’ latest TV campaign features boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, to be showcased globally by 2016. The champion commented: “Throughout my career I’ve worked to be the best, to be special and there’s a certain appeal that I have for Skechers.”

For Blauer, for instance, their choice in selecting a testimonial is made upon the coherence of that personality according to their product. “We often get in touch with a celebrity who loves our product and is happy to wear it and let it become part of their own identity,” commented Federica Fusco, owner FGF Industry.

Cheap Monday features blogger and stylist Gustav Brostroêm
Cheap Monday features blogger and stylist Gustav Brostroêm


A quest for beauty
Other brands – most often women’s focused brands - often prefer to feature their products by involving models who can convey that brand’s identity. Though they are always tied to ideals of beauty even if they are conveyed through the web via social networks – indispensable media for talking to consumers.
For the upcoming Milan Fashion Week fast fashion Mango brand will inaugurate its biggest store of the world measuring 3,000 sq.meters in Milan’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The event will host the brand’s testimonials - top models and icons Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne. They will meet selected guests and fans and will pose with them for a photo call to be shared under the #somethingincommon hashtag via social networks bringing backe the idea that a testimonial is always a media because of the web’s resonance.

Pepe Jeans London is always looking for young British faces true to the brand´s own DNA and London´s Portobello Road roots. "We look for people who can represent the brand in all ways: their age, their look, their values, and what they do. They don´t necessarily need to be models but they need to be up and coming stars in their own world, we strongly believe and support young talents." This is in part true, even if they also worked with already recognized top models such as, once more, the irresistible Cara Delevigne.

Also Guess has a similar approach in choosing its ambassadors. “Throughout the years we have been known for finding new faces rather than working with testimonials or ambassadors, and this is how we will continue working,” commented Paul Marciano, Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Creative Officer for GUESS?, Inc. referring to their early days when they discovered and launched many upcoming top models such as, for instance, Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova.

“I don’t choose famous or established models, but I prefer to find undiscovered models who perfectly represent the Guess brand. I think that a woman must be feminine, voluptuous and sensual, without necessarily having to be a model, tall or slim,” he points out. For their s/s 2016 and f/w 2016/2017 their new ambassador will be Italian TV star Belen Rodriguez who, at least in Italy is well-known. “She interprets the Guess ideal of a beautiful, intelligent and self-confident femininity ideal. And she has a strong media strength.” She is not totally unknown, but some incoherence can be admitted. In the end it is more about telling the consumer that one’s brand’s identity cannot always follow the same predictable paths. A surprise remains indispensable for intriguing the consumer.

Jourdan Dunn for Pepe Jeans fall/winter '15, photo by Glen Luchford
Jourdan Dunn for Pepe Jeans fall/winter '15, photo by Glen Luchford