As the creator economy has boomed, so too have the opportunities for brands to engage with all kinds of customers, even if they aren’t always eager to be pitched. But whether it comes from a big name or up-and-coming talent, customers want good storytelling, said Jamie Gutfreund, chief growth officer at Whalar.
Whalar partnered with Martha Stewart and MrBeast and expanded its commitment to diverse creators
“One of the biggest shifts in the last few years is that brands realize that working with creators is not a tactic, but a part of their marketing strategy,” Gutfreund said. “There was a time when people talked about cord-cutters, then there were cord-nevers. We had a generation of ad-avoiders, and now ad-nevers.” But partnering with the right celebrities and creators can make those ads far more palatable.
When premium beauty brand Clé de Peau Beauté wanted to find new fans on TikTok, the company knew it wanted to work with Martha Stewart, but it turned to Whalar to ensure they were approaching the app the right way as a brand. Whalar helped Stewart film five videos featuring Clé de Peau, starting with a “thirst trap” Stewart has posted on Instagram.
“We could see in the data that millennials and Gen Z love her,” said Ashley Rudder, Whalar’s global chief creator officer. “She laughed a lot, and graciously opened her home for the shoot.” The five videos hit 5 million views in the first five days and exceeded brand lift beauty category benchmarks by 222%, according to Kantar.
Whalar also helped Spotify generate buzz and attract younger subscribers around the music streamer’s new Roblox Island. Knowing that the gaming audience in particular is sensitive to how brands show up in the space, Whalar tapped Gen Z gaming creators to help spread the word, including MrBeast. Fans were surprised to learn that MrBeast played Roblox, and his TikTok on Spotify Island got 5 million views, even crashing the Roblox site.
Whalar also launched its own Creator Academy last September, a 10-week program meant to accelerate the careers of up-and-coming creators from underrepresented communities. They were paired with established creators and were taught about financial literacy, usage rights and crisis communications.
“One of our creators got a campaign with Nike,” said Gutfreund. “She went from no brand deals to working with Nike in just 10 weeks.”
This year, Gutfreund said Whalar is focusing on measurement. The company launched a measurement framework with Nielsen, Tubular and Vidmob as a way to show creators ROI in a format similar to traditional marketing metrics.
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Whalar is also constantly working on the industry’s need to improve diversity and strives to reflect this with both internal teams and the creators it works with. Its talent roster is almost 25% LGBTQ+ identifying and 57% people of color. In May 2022, the company acquired C Talent, an agency for deaf and disabled creators. Whalar also helped DirecTV create Familia Fuego, an all-Latino creator house.
“We work hard to have our teams reflect the world,” said Gutfreund. “That is a conscious decision, but not always the easiest to achieve. But it is something that we look at on a daily basis. How are we helping our own teams, and the creators we work with, so they can thrive?”