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Influencers to Brands at Digital Conference: Let Us Control the Content

'It's Really Important That Brands Allow the Creator the Opportunity to Create'

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(From l.) John Young, Andres B, Julz Goddard, Darren Lachtman and Ken Wheaton
(From l.) John Young, Andres B, Julz Goddard, Darren Lachtman and Ken Wheaton Credit: Rob Tannenbaum

Influencers on the "Who's Your Ambassador? Part 2" panel at the Ad Age Digital Conference on Tuesday said brands have to give up the creative reins when hiring them to come up with content.

"It's really important that brands allow the creator the opportunity to create," said Snapchat star Julz Goddard, who's also the founder and director of Vibes, YesJulz Agency. "Have an open dialogue with your influencers and creators and ask, 'What are the things you like to do with our product.'"

Andres B, Vine star and dad of the Eh Bee Family, said the second influencers start changing or conforming to things they don't want to do for a brand, they begin losing their fan base. "If a brand approaches us early on, we expect that they understand where we're coming from with our content," he said.

The Vine celebrity said he and his family have turned down brands in the past because they don't match up authentically in terms of values. For example, he said the family declined working with a food brand because it was not healthy, as well as a TV show that had too much adult humor.

Ms. Goddard said she was impressed with messaging app Viber because the brand approached her and asked how it could work with her on reaching college students who have switched over to competitor Whatsapp. She added that brands that approach her also have to understand her party-centric lifestyle and can't ask her to "tone it down" because that's her personality.

While it may seem nerve-racking to give up creative control, Comcast VP of Customer Marketing Communications John Young said brands just have to trust "in the decision you've made and, like any other medium, have a really good brief."

Comcast engaged 19 creators, including Andres B, to help promote its X1 set-top box, and the brand wound up using 48 out of 49 pieces of content. Mr. Young added that Comcast made very minor tweaks to the content. "I wouldn't want to hire a creator who didn't feel good about what we're asking them to do," said Mr. Young.

Darren Lachtman, global brand strategy, Twitter, and co-founder, Niche, said he's seen "a lot of hesitation from brands" when it comes to working with influencers. However, he said once companies, including Comcast, come to the studio and see the creative process, the wariness fades away. Niche also helps brands by matching them up with specific creators who make the most sense for their target demographics.

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