COVID-19 Lockdown Is The Time To Hire Influencers And Their Smartphones

There has been a lot of talk about what the new normal will look like when we all eventually get out of lockdown, and hopefully, economies around the world begin to recover.

Much of the debate has focussed on what the new agency structure is going to look like, and there has been some very interesting debate. The big issue I have expected to be raised is over influencers and video advertising. When will this cross over into traditional tv advertising?

We are all becoming accustomed to news presenters being at home and even prime-time shows being presented from living rooms -- two living rooms if you’re a double act like Ant and Dec.

For quite a while though, now, we’ve had influencers producing videos like this. Raw footage shot on a mobile device of household camcorder that lets you in on their life and provides the perfect opportunity to highlight the cooking knives they use, the yoga mat they unfurl daily or the fitness routine that gives them that athletic physique.

When I’ve talked with influencer agencies, the feedback is always the same. If these influencers went too big on budget and produced a totally slick-looking Hollywood production, the public would smell a rat. It would be even more obvious than an #ad disclosure that they were sponsored by the product or service they are talking about.

So, influencer marketers work at their best on a small, low-budget personal production. That’s clear.

At the same time, we also have a problem in which professional ad agencies and video production businesses cannot get crews together to shoot high-end tv ads.

Shooting the latest vehicle to twist around those mountain roads takes dozens of crew, thousands of air miles and most of the time, quite a bit of helicopter hiring.

So, an article in “Campaign” today makes a very good point, even though it’s made by an influencer company, Billion Dollar Boy, that clearly has a dog in this proverbial fight. The argument is that with tv crews grounded, corporate video firms furloughed or working from home, and the same for ad agencies, there has never been a better time for influencers.

The idea touted by the influencer agency quoted in the article -- which has yet to have any takers, it should be pointed out -- is that a creative or two from home can work with an influencers. They can construct a story line and get an influencer to shoot it and send it to an editor.

I’m not too sure about getting ad agencies overly involved. I get the need for a steer on the content, but I’d also suggest that the more professional ad agencies seek to make influencer videos, the more it will look like they were involved.

So, I’d definitely agree that this is the time for brands to remain visual with influencers and maybe set filming challenges or pose questions they can answer through video. If they want to go the full hog and make a tv ad, then by all means get the creatives involved -- but for general socially shared content, most influencer experts would, I think, advise against trying to look too slick.

This makes me wonder. Everyone’s shaving their hair with clippers brought from Amazon and nobody has much of an idea what they’re doing. Where are the likes of Philips with instructional, homemade videos from hairdressers who understand the equipment and can provide top tips? They may be out there, but they didn’t show up when I was searching for a way to get a haircut without assuming the "Full Metal Jacket" look.

Everyone’s going stir crazy and dreaming of dinner time each day. Why aren’t the guys who make spice packets and sauces reaching out to influencer chefs to use their products and maybe throw in a tip or two of their own, all shot on an iPhone?

I’m not sure about tv ads, although that’s a possibility. Right now, the most obvious opportunity is to get influencers sharing tips and promoting products and services with subtlety and always with the #ad tag added, of course.

At a time where it’s impossible to be slick and expensive, the obvious choice is to go homegrown influencer footage.

One piece of good news here is that influencers are kicking their heels too, like everyone else. Many can’t do their day job of being an actor, singer, chef, fitness instructor and so, from what I hear, there are deals to be done.

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