Monday, December 4, 2017

Cha-Ching! The Price of Influence

A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.

Gordon Gecko - Wall Street

So earlier today I was enjoying a particularly fine cup of coffee when the familiar "bing" announced an incoming email message.  Upon opening, it, I promptly shot a good gulp of French Roast through my left nostril, all over the screen of my brand new iPhone X.  I then had to use the sleeve of my jacket to wipe it off.  Carl F. Bucherer, you owe me for a dry cleaning bill. 

Every so often, I get a press release that makes me wonder if millennialitis is treatable, or chronic and just something hipsters and millenials contract and then die with.  

The belief of sales, marketing, and advertising professionals that the Millennial demographic represents a completely unique group of consumers and as such, entirely new approaches must be adopted. Even if the product you are trying to sell is intended for a completely different demographic, such as Depends Adult diapers.
I tried to explain to the Creative Director that the hipster didn't represent our customer demographic, but she's got a bad case of millennialitis.

You know,  not unlike their beard combs and hipster-meets-Amish outlaw clothing in their "thoughtfully curated closets" that no longer fits (in terms of both taste and size), but that no vintage clothing store will buy or charity shop will accept as a donation.

I'm going to reprint this just as it landed in my email in-box:
Courtesy of Carl F. Bucherer
New York, NY (December 4, 2017) - Carl F. Bucherer has launched an extensive new influencer campaign inspired by the urban spirit of its Manero Flyback watches. In keeping with the claim “Wherever time takes you, Lucerne travels with you,” the campaign features five highly popular US influencers that live its spirit in different ways. Among them is successful menswear and lifestyle blogger Blake Scott, who now has become the watch manufacturer’s first digital brand ambassador.

Carl F. Bucherer has been continuously expanding its digital presence over the course of the past few years. “Launching a global influencer campaign is the next step in our efforts to increase brand awareness and engage more directly with style aficionados,” says Danijela Andjelic, Head of Digital at Carl F. Bucherer. As part of the campaign, the brand is strengthening its relationship with five successful US men’s lifestyle bloggers – Blake Scott, Adam Gallagher, Luke Ditella, Brian Sacawa, and Igee Okafor – who were selected by the Swiss watch manufacturer as they all embody the fashion sense of a modern urban gentleman in their own way. These men are a perfect match for the Manero Flyback by Carl F. Bucherer, a key model for the brand. With its sleek style and multifaceted dial, the Manero Flyback is a watch that truly stands out from the crowd and is a wonderfully sophisticated accessory for global citi-zens with an eclectic sense of style.

Carl F. Bucherer is delighted to welcome Blake Scott as the brand’s first digital brand ambassador as part of the “ Wherever time takes you, Lucerne travels with you ” campaign. The successful LA-based lifestyle ex-pert created the very popular blog The Scott Effect ( ) and currently has more than 481,000 followers on Instagram. 

Okay, there's a whole lotta' wacka-doodle to unpack from this, but I thought in the interest of brevity, we'd just keep it simple:

The first important thing that needs to be taken into consideration - the acknowledgement that these fine fellows are, indeed, self-proclaimed influencers.  And what is the definition of influencer?  That's just it, it's too new to really be well defined. But it is becoming less and less of a positive moniker as it is becoming clearer that the influence had most often come with a price tag attached to it.  And the influencer was exchanging their heartfelt endorsement for remuneration.

I realize, a bit snarky, but essentially the entire influencer phenomenon is the result of what began as a fairly disingenous attempt to surreptitiously get a brand or product in front of a lot of people while surreptitiously slipping cash, favors, product (or all three) to the influencer in question.  Hopefully the new FTC rules will better inform the public as to who is getting paid to promote what.  In fairness, I have no idea about any of these folks now aligned with Bucherer, and frankly, I can't really be bothered to investigate too deeply.  I follow the Sartorialist and when it comes to watches?  I'm pretty much my own favorite "opinion leader".  But I am always very, very hesitant to give two (or frankly even one) shit/s about someone who offers an opinion that is paid for.  Now again, I am making the assumption that this is a paid arrangement, and if I am wrong, then will be very happy to stand corrected, and confused in the corner, wearing a funny hat.

Is it likely that these five guys woke up one day and independently  said - "You know, I think that Carl F. Bucherer watches are the Shit that Killed Elvis!  I think I'll feature them in my social media platforms!"

I mean, maybe they did, but I'm a little doubtful about that.  What it does mean is that some eager soul over in Lucerne decided that traditional advertising was not worth the results, so maybe it would be better to throw a chunk of marketing money at these guys to get them to wear a Bucherer and promote the brand in their social media feeds.  And if that is how it is, and everyone discloses it appropriately?  Fair play.

And this is what I would logically presume from the press release as it is written.  That not unlike a partnership with a famous athlete or actress, that this is a paid arrangement.  And if not, then these five famous fellows are pretty nice guys for giving so much free marketing muscle to a watch brand.  Any clarification from the folks at Bucherer would be appreciated.

The FTC has now made it pretty clear that influencers must disclose their endorsements on all posts that feature a product for which they have received payment (either in coin of the realm, or promotional consideration such as a freebie).  So if everyone plays by the new rules, then these social media posts are going to read a bit like the closing credits to a game show circa 1989 -

"Promotional consideration paid by the following..."
In essence, it becomes clear to anyone reading or looking at it that it is a paid advertisement in the guise of your instagram feed.

And then this begs the question - are the influencers really that influential any more?  The entire notion of the desirability of the influencer was that more and more young folks were turned off by traditional partnerships and advertising campaigns.  The argument being that this new generation was far too savvy to be taken in by such obvious and outdated marketing tactics.  That they responded more to seeing the product being used by someone that they admired and respected, that this was somehow more sincere.  And the benefit of the influencer to the person in the marketing department writing the checks (or sending the bitcoins) was that the influencer was a bit of a cyber Trojan Horse to get your product in front of potentially millions of people - some of whom might even be real ; ) 

So let's wait and see if this works, if so it could usher in a new era of officially sponsored "influence".   

As far as Bucherer goes, I have absolutely no idea what the "urban spirit of its Manero Flyback watch" might actually be, but in fairness, I did not grow up with the expectation that I'd get a trophy just for showing up, so I'm probably just too much of an old fart to understand.  Here's to being "influenced"! 

1 comment:

  1. great text, I am on your side, my Buddy.