Note to readers: 'Influencers’ have forever changed the way brands and people engage with each other. Bringing together brands, content creators and digital publishers and curating a narrative for marketers are the influencer marketing agencies. They are the new-age agencies focused on the biggest disruption in the world of brands - influencer marketing. Storyboard18’s special series brings to you a view of what these influencer marketing mavericks do and how they think.
Most influencer management agencies came to existence two to three years back when brands across the board started taking influencer marketing seriously. Clout Talent’s story, however, is a little different. From the house of digital entertainment company Pocket Aces, Clout was started to cater to the needs of their actors who became so popular that brands wanted to work with them. This is when they started a talent management arm dedicated to bringing opportunities available in every sphere of entertainment. These range from feature films and television commercials to influencer campaigns for brands and anchoring opportunities to their talent.
WHO ARE THEY?
“We were a digital content creator and our content gave rise to some of the first few digital faces in the country. Everyone started noticing these faces and wanted to work with them. Our actors used to come to us asking for guidance on how to handle brands. We started by helping them informally but then finally decided to formalize the offerings and started Clout,” Vinay Pillai – Vice President, Clout Talent, tells Storyboard18.
Founded: Pocket Aces started talent management in 2019. But Clout was officially launched in 2020.
Founders: Anirudh Pandita, Ashwin Suresh, Aditi Shrivastava are the founders of Pocket Aces. Clout is headed by Vinay Pillai.
Employees: Clout has a dedicated team of 30, and they also share resources with Pocket Aces.
Key Clients (Brands): Clout has worked with 100+ brands. Top five accounts were Procter & Gamble, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and Unilever.
Key Clients (Influencers): Barkha Singh, Zorawar, Viraj Ghelani, RJ Karishma, Ayush Mehra, Kriti Vij, Sukant Goel, Parul Gulati, RJ Raghav, RJ Sindhu, Sakshi Shivdasani, Sandeepa Dhar, Ahsaas Channa, Vrushika Mehta, Shubham Jadhav, Viraj Ghelani and Rohan Khurana, among others.
GET TO KNOW
While Clout takes pride in showing their talent the path to content creation and brand collaboration, Pillai picks up the example of
The Ourange Jyuce Gang
“They are a super talented group but when they came on board they had a following of close to a lakh each. We are so happy we could help them grow by directing their content to the right path. Brands were quick to notice them too. In fact, we also got them heavily featured in Instagram’s trendsetter campaign. So they were the face of Reels in India. They've seen insane growth and all three of them now have a follower count in millions,” Pillai says.
“Some influencers are very sensitive and they take backlash very seriously. Sometimes we have to push them to just apologize if needed and just move on but then there are also creators like Sakshi Shivdasani who have a totally different approach towards trolls and backlashes,” Pillai says.
“She's kind of embraced the backlash and her content is in perfect sync with this vibe. She's actually flipped the script and agrees with people who find her annoying. Interestingly people love her content and love her even more for just embracing everything gracefully,” he adds.
Most challenging campaign
“We often have to explain to brands the pros and cons of views and impacts. Sometimes brands just want more views and viral creators and it’s a daily challenge to explain to them that if we really need impact we need to look into the product niche and choose someone that has more hold on the audience in the category. It is a tough task,” Pillai says.
Biggest challenges and issues facing influencer marketing agencies
Payment cycles. Popular creators have the luxury of asking for payments in advance. But most creators don’t. “When you see a good video you must know a lot of production cost goes into it. So as talent managers we do our best to get payment cycles regularized,” he says.
Biggest opportunities ahead
OTT and collaborations and branded content are not the only way an influencer can succeed. Influencers are now part of the OTT actor pool. The agency’s job is to get the right person, the right gig.
Top trends that will change the influencer marketing ecosystem
Influencers will become more than just a single platform creator.
Rise and rise of regional creators.
Creators will start diversifying their content.
Ecommerce will become more directly influenced by creators and content.
Annoying things all clients do
Constantly saying ‘Integration time badha do’
Having unrealistic timeline expectations.
Questions for brand managers
If you are catering to a young brand and you don't have a digital strategy, what are you even doing?
How can you establish positioning and make your brand cooler or change the perception of your brand without truly investing in creators?
Questions for influencers
What is your objective?
What do you want to use your platform for?
Don’t get settled with the success you’ve achieved. Don’t lose your hunger!