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The Influencers

The Changing Face of Celebrity Endorsement

INFLUENCER: The Bourne Consultancy’s Melsie Bourne on staying ahead in the rapidly changing world of celebrity and influencer campaigns

The Changing Face of Celebrity Endorsement

We need to talk about talent. The rise of the social influencer.  The need for experts. The changing face of celebrity endorsement. But what exactly is changing? Google search must be sick to death of the words ‘influencer', ‘blogger', and ‘vlogger'.  Who are they? What are they? How have they become so ‘influential’? Are these influencers our new celebrities? Or has one simply become the other? Getting to know and keeping on top of the new stars of our screens is a full-time occupation in itself. The faces of talent are changing within advertising while the pace of changing faces accelerates.

Talent can make or break a campaign. It can also break budgets, strain relationships across teams and make an agency producer lose the will to live! There are, of course, ways around this but you need to be very careful with this new breed of celebrity – you need an expert to help manage all individuals and relationships.

Today, it appears that your traditional Hollywood megastar or A-list band is having to compete for work against these so called ‘influencers'. Kids look up to them and aspire to be them, so brands with big bucks want them for endorsement. Why? Because they influence... 

Look at the Bafta-winning Kurupt FM gang and their main man, Chabuddy G. Brands are elbowing each other in the face to work with these guys. Yes, they’re hugely talented and extremely funny but it’s their combined social reach that makes the likes of Nike drool. 


Then there’s Fleur De Force, who has teamed up with Coca Cola. She’s made a viral film that allows viewers to win “her dream holiday” and it’s on pretty much every social platform. These days, online content can get more views than a TV campaign and it’s truly global.

To the younger tech savvy generation, Chabuddy G is an everyday hero and Fleur De Force is as important as Emma Watson. Sure, you can’t take away the level of expertise from our face to camera experts, like Phil Spencer.  These guys are still endorsing brands, but they are certainly not as popular with advertisers as they used to be.

Nevertheless, there’s no escaping how hugely prevalent A-listers still are within advertising - particularly in its more traditional forms. Take highly successful campaigns like Karmarama’s Confused.com ads, featuring James Corden.  


But it’s the social whizz kids who are changing the face of talent in advertising. Our new social influencers’ currency is defined by how many people follow them and, believe me, they're worth A LOT. These are vloggers that can now pull in circa 10,000 likes on one Instagram post, whose social reach is bigger than Justin Bieber’s fanzine membership! 

However, a word of warning: this new breed of talent comes with unique new challenges. Social influencers’ Instagram, YouTube and Twitter channels are their businesses and they’re fiercely protective against appearing inauthentic. If they’re going to be associated with a brand that goes against their values, they simply won’t post. Don’t just expect it to automatically be part of the deal. Be very careful.

Despite these risks, we can’t deny that these are the guys that brands and creatives have started clambering to work with. They are the new faces of our celebrities and now come under the category of talent.

When working with talent, my job is to advise, to help find the right face or voice, to aid the success of your campaign by making sure the celebrity – be it A-lister or influencer - is the right fit for the brand.  

When casting voiceovers, for example, it’s important to pick a voice, not a name. It sounds like common sense but, when pitching, brands will spend an absolute fortune securing a famous face for a voiceover – all for nothing, if no-one actually recognises the voice. There are very few voices that are instantly recognisable.

Let’s be clear here, I’m not going to meddle with the creative concept – I’m here to help liberate creative ideas through the right celebrity endorsement. Being an expert in this field, down to monitoring even the minutest shifts, helps manage expectations and cost and also prevent the time wasting pursuit of unworkable talent.