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Bonjour from the south of France! Stagwell is your behind-the-scenes pass to the best of Cannes Lions. Each day, we’re sharing three quick takes on the biggest conversations at the Palais and bringing you backstage to the Speakers’ Lounge with leading marketers. Want more? Follow along on LinkedIn. 

  1. WAIT, YOU MEAN IT’S ACTUALLY AN ECONOMY? Day three sessions proved that the creator economy is actually an economy in development, not just a buzzword. The influencers are growing up. Getting serious about brand partnerships. Leveraging creator funds and programs to maximize reach. And even becoming virtual. On the Terrace, Influence 3.0 assured us a new wave of influencers have entered the chat. .
  2. THE MANY FACES OF STORYTELLING The Many Faces of Storytelling. There’s no playbook for telling the right story — but we know what needs to go right before you do. Regina Hall and Amazon’s Ukonwa Ojo showed us what happens when women lead. You have to blend great creative with fast-paced media (thank you, Ryan Reynolds). Look to the future — and, look for ways to continually deliver value.
  3. PUT THE CREATORS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT. We’re hearing hearing brands get more comfortable with putting creators in the driver’s seat of campaign activations. Creators should be natural extensions of the marketing team. Will we see a category at Cannes in the future for visionary influencers turned creative directors? 

Beyond the Stage

Stagwell is the official sponsor of the Cannes Lions Speakers’ Lounge, bringing you exclusive interviews with some of the most interesting people at Cannes — and the stories beyond the main stage. 

First out of the Content Studio: Our Chairman and CEO Mark Penn in conversation with Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer. They discuss the earliest trends coming out of Cannes 2022, including an evolved consumer path to purchase coming out of the pandemic, the Disrupted vs. Disruptors, and the bargain of first-party data. 

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hello@stagwellglobal.com

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Bonjour from the south of France! Stagwell is your behind-the-scenes pass to the best of Cannes Lions. Each day, we’ll send you three quick takes on the biggest conversations at the Palais and bring you backstage to the Speakers’ Lounge with leading marketers.

The topic du jour? Gen Z consumers and how brands can leverage culture to connect with them. Want more? Follow along on LinkedIn.

  1. WHEN DID MILLENNIALS BECOME UNCOOL? PAGES ARE SO 2010. Gen Z – now with the purchasing power – was the most talked-about consumer segment on Day 4. All about more purposeful brands and consumerism, this “activist generation,” as Malala Yousafzai calls them, is key to future growth. [Go Deeper: OK Zoomer – The Journey of Gen Z] 
  2. HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY? Beyond racial and gender categories, brands are finding value in consumer groups organized around multiple categories, from age to regional affiliation, eating habits, and more. We’re hearing brands push agencies to build insights and creativity from the ground up to perform better together.” [Go Deeper: CPB and Buchanan’s Celebrate the Spirit of the 200%”]
  3. MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS IN FORTNITE. An overlooked segment for many years, gamers are “the new pop culture icons.” Channeling gaming culture to scale reach and understanding that it cuts across standard demographics were key learnings for newcomers in The Forum. [Go Deeper: How can brands positively connect with video game enthusiasts?]

Beyond the Stage

Stagwell is the official sponsor of the Cannes Lions Speakers’ Lounge, bringing you exclusive interviews with some of the most interesting people at Cannes – and the stories beyond the main stage. 

Hear from Nola Weinstein, Global Head of Culture & Experiential, Twitter,  on “moving at the speed of the feed,” how Twitter approaches experiential marketing, Web3, career advice, and more.

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hello@stagwellglobal.com

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Bonjour from the south of France! Stagwell is your behind-the-scenes pass to the best of Cannes Lions. Each day, we’re sharing three quick takes on the biggest conversations at the festival and bringing you backstage to the Speakers’ Lounge with leading marketers. 

All across the Palais, from the Discovery stage to Snap & Gucci’s much-anticipated presentation, the buzz was all about giving e-commerce new creative digs. Want more? Follow along on LinkedIn. 

  1. PRODUCT PAGES ARE SO 2010. Product pages are so 2010. WARC spotlighted changing frontiers of e-commerce across its sessions today. The big takeaway? It’s creative + media + e-commerce as the new formula for marketing. Food for thought: How can we take e-commerce, a creatively challenging space, and fuse content, branded entertainment, influencer integrations, and more throughout? [Go Deeper: Building a Best-in-Class Marketplace for Thrive Market]
  2. E-COMMERCE HAS TO GET EXPERIENTIAL It’s clear that extended reality is nearer than the metaverse, powering strong, connected experiences for consumers, adding dimensionality to product pages, and allowing consumers to encounter not just the product but the experience it promises. Snap & Gucci wowed with their look into how AR is changing “experiential digital commerce.” [Go Deeper: Marketing Frontiers – Augmented Reality]
  3. HOW TO SELL AND NOT BE A SELLER. Pure sales messages are poor drivers of commerce. Social commerce – bringing the content-driven channel of influencer closer to the point of sale – along with branded entertainment is a plus for reaching ad-avoidant consumers, our very own Jae Goodman (two-time Entertainment Lions juror) reminded marketers today. [Go Deeper: Celebrity Drives Brand Awareness. Nano-Influencers Drive Commerce.]

Beyond the Stage

Stagwell is the exclusive partner of the Speakers’ Lounge, where every festival speaker goes before and after their slot. Check out our exclusive interviews with brand leaders and go beyond what they said on the Main Stage.

We’ll be posting new, daily content on Youtube. Join us!

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Originally released on

NEW YORK and OXFORD, England – June 7, 2022 – Stagwell (Nasdaq: STGW), the challenger network built to transform marketing, today announced Chairman and CEO Mark Penn will join The Oxford Union, the world’s most prestigious debating society, to debate the promises and pitfalls of the metaverse. The debate, “This House Would Live in the Metaverse,” will explore the future of Web3 and the metaverse in the context of data and privacy, brand marketing, and ultimately, how the metaverse will transform the way people, countries, and communities connect. Stagwell invites press to attend the debate at 8:30 p.m. GMT+1 on Thursday, June 16; details to RSVP are below.

Penn will argue on behalf of the metaverse as a platform that can transform how brands relate – and market – to consumers. Stagwell is excited about the potential of Web3 and currently counsels multinational brands on whether and how to enter the metaverse, including areas of investment to consider within augmented reality (AR), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the creator economy, and other areas of opportunity.

“We’ve only just scratched the surface of AR, VR, NFTs and other emerging technologies in the metaverse, and I’m excited to join this expert group as we debate the possibilities,” said Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn. “The metaverse provides an entirely new canvas for brands to build creative, digital experiences that connect consumers around the world.”

Current confirmed debaters include:

Proposition Side

  • Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn
  • AGT International Chairman & Owner Mati Kochavi

Opposition Side

  • University of Birmingham Professor Sylvie Delacroix
  • Bloomberg and Techworld journalist Margi Murphy
  • TechCrunch Editor-at-Large Mike Butcher

Journalists interested in attending the debate and/or connecting with Penn for an interview, please contact Beth Sidhu at beth.sidhu@stagwellglobal.com.

About Stagwell Inc.
Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 10,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at www.stagwellglobal.com.

 About The Oxford Union

Founded in 1823, the Oxford Union is a forward-thinking institution at Oxford University that strives to strengthen democratic values through free and fair discussion. Having invited illustrious guests from the Dalai Lama to Presidents Carter, Nixon, and Reagan, the Oxford Union allows its members to debate and question the modern thinkers of our time. Diversity, not only of opinion or politics but of all types, remains the lifeblood of the Union today, and continues to be so for as long as we are visited by the greatest and most knowledgeable speakers in the world. 

Contact: Beth Sidhu
beth.sidhu@stagwellglobal.com 
+1. 202.423.4414

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Originally released on

Challenger Marketing Network to Run Cannes Lions Speakers Lounge Content Studio

NEW YORK and CANNES, FranceMay 31, 2022 Stagwell (NASDAQ: STGW), the challenger network built to transform marketing, is celebrating the in-person return of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity after two years of virtual programming. To celebrate Cannes Lions 2022, Stagwell is proud to serve as official sponsor of the Cannes Lions Speakers’ Lounge.

As the title sponsor of the Speakers’ Lounge, Stagwell will welcome and host guests participating in live conversations on the Cannes Lions stages. Stagwell will also have a content studio within the Speakers’ Lounge, producing a range of recorded interviews with key talent offering their most compelling insights, distributed across various online channels.

“We’re excited to partner with the Festival to bring both the art and science of creativity to life in the Speakers’ Lounge. Our goal is to capture insights from the brightest minds and share them widely with our industry,” said Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn. “What better place to create new, meaningful connections than at our industry’s premier celebration of creative excellence.”

With a number of additional private events and over 75 Stagwell network employees in attendance, this is Stagwell’s largest commitment at Cannes Lions to date.  Network agencies who are confirmed to attend include:

  • 72andSunny
  • Allison + Partners
  • Anomaly
  • Assembly
  • Code and Theory
  • Colle McVoy
  • Doner
  • Forsman & Bodenfors
  • GALE
  • Ink
  • Instrument
  • MMI Agency
  • Observatory
  • Veritas
  • Wolfgang
To connect with Stagwell:

If you are a brand executive or journalist interested in participating in Speakers’ Lounge interviews or Stagwell’s private networking events, please email cannescomms@stagwellglobal.com for further information.

About Stagwell Inc.

Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 10,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at www.stagwellglobal.com.

Contact:
Beth Sidhu
beth.sidhu@stagwellglobal.com 
+1. 202.423.4414

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By

Barbara Laidlaw
Partner, Global Risk, Reputation + Public Affairs
Allison+Partners

 

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When an organization begins to expand globally, it often faces a new set of challenges that could mean adjusting current strategies that have yielded success on the domestic front. Economic, regulatory and operational factors are just some of the many considerations nascent global businesses must address to succeed on the international stage.

A less tangible but imperative concern is the organization’s reputation and how it will scale along with other elements of the business. Reputation takes years to build and only minutes to tarnish, making it one of the most precarious factors at play during expansion. Therefore, before pursuing an ambitious global footprint, businesses should consider how reputation management coexists with the following:

  • Cultural & regional differences: Global expansion will require the ability to adjust some aspects of how a business operates to meet the standard of wherever the expansion takes place. Consider how different factors, such as language barriers, lifestyle, cultural history, education and politics, impact business objectives from employees’ and customers’ perspectives. By developing a strong understanding of these components and how they may factor into the business’s reputation, an organization will be positioned well to avoid pitfalls and preempt potential damage from related issues.
  • Regulatory & political issues: Establishing an intimate understanding of how relevant political issues may affect the business is critical to avoid becoming trapped in them. Tapping into the expertise of third-party consultants and internal personnel within the region are just two ways a company can ensure it operates with the correct understanding of the political landscape. Strict regulatory compliance is another area in which businesses should invest resources to insulate themselves from running afoul of regulations or laws they may not have considered otherwise.
  • Social impact & ESG: As organizations expand globally, they will inevitably increase their global footprint and their environmental and societal one. Depending on the nature of the business, there could be additional social considerations to account for, such as human rights or political turmoil. Today, enterprises prioritize their societal impact more than ever. To continue to thrive, global organizations must navigate the complexities that come with the recent rise in investor and consumer activism.
  • Core values: As is true with any period of growth within an organization, maintaining core values is one of the most prominent challenges a business must contend with. This is only magnified when the company begins to expand globally. Upholding core values is essential to brand reputation and should be a priority item when considering further expansion. Emphasizing the importance of quality onboarding procedures, internal initiatives and other team-focused programs are ways a business can maintain its values as it grows.
  • Communications infrastructure: Ultimately, scaling communications capacity and capabilities to match company growth will provide a business with the fundamental infrastructure it needs to preempt potentially damaging issues and effectively react to them when they occur. Through regular assessments of an organization’s communications capabilities, the business can proactively address weak spots and build on areas of strength, resulting in a more robust global communications program that underpins every core function of the business itself.

Navigating the reputational complexities of a global business is a challenge. While organizations should always remain prepared to tackle known sources of risk to their reputation, there will always be unpredictable events or incidents that present additional risks. Environmental disasters, wars, political turmoil, supply chain challenges and regulatory issues are just some of the many hurdles businesses need to contend with and overcome regularly.

Ultimately, the most effective way to mitigate the potential fallout from known and unknown risks is to continually ensure the organization is operationally resilient and maintains a robust communications infrastructure that it can leverage before, during and after an adverse event.

Barbara Laidlaw brings 25 years of experience developing and running programs that help companies prepare, protect and defend their brand reputations through global and national events, recalls, litigation, data breaches, regulatory issues and labor disputes.

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By

Ray Day
Stagwell Vice-Chair 

 

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“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet 

Today, corporate reputation means more than mastery of the marketplace. Reputation is a measure of what all stakeholders – including consumers, employees, shareholders, and more – think about a company.  

Contrary to “brand” – which measures a company’s products & services, typically among specific consumer segments, a reputation is earned not created.  

Reputation is comprised of your company’s performance + its behavior in the marketplace, reflected through its internal and external marketing communications. When reputation is curated, it has the potential to build business value and can help mitigate risks. Companies with excellent reputations are more likely to garner positive outcomes, such as advocacy, community expansion and purchase intent.

Today’s corporations and CEOs have greater permission from the public to address complex social issues – within bounds. Reputation today is evolving today to reflect more than just a product or service set, but a businesses’ commitment to serve society.  

In recent years, geopolitical, economic, and social developments have created a society in transition and turmoil. Consumers have more expectations of corporations in this environment – not least because of declining trust and expectations in institutional actors such as governments and municipalities. As measured by Stagwell’s 2021 Reputation Quotient, brands across nearly every business sector experienced a reputational boost during the height of the pandemic as consumers looked to the private sector for solutions where public officials were failing to create them:  

CEOs, and in a limited capacity other star of the C-Suite such as CMOs, are rapidly gaining reputational capital within the market and with consumers. They influence sales, perceived product/service quality, and signal the strength of an organization’s culture. As CEO reputation extends outward, when to exert influence in society becomes more calculated and more important. Americans say CEOs most affect reputation, ethics, and financial success for today’s organizations. CEOs also have a growing public awareness and influence on consumer sales; half of Americans report changing buying habits due to the actions of a CEO. 

More traditional C-suite players like Jamie Dimon at Goldman Sachs leverage influence in quieter, more sustained ways – Dimon’s annual letter is a bellwether for the future of global financial markets, with wide-ranging through leadership implications for businesses within and beyond the financial services category.  

With that reputational capital comes the burden of leadership: the public believes CEOs should stand on issues where they have credibility, not where they don’t have a voice or authority. Ultimately, core values should be the navigator of social issues. Alienation is a risk in a highly polarized society, but so too is the risk of stakeholders who perceive CEOs as indifferent or in conflict with the company’s principles. This is especially true among younger and Black Americans. While standing down is expedient, a generational and cultural divide is growing that will make decisions more difficult and polarizing.  

Corporate and CEO reputation is changing quickly. Stagwell is a leader in global reputation tracking and management; learn more about the Reputation Quotient, an annual collaboration between Stagwell, Axios, and The Harris Poll tracking the most visible companies in America. Register to receive our 2022 research when it releases in May.

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Mark Penn

FEATURING

Welcome to the second edition of Hitting the Mark – a monthly analysis of developments at the intersection of business, marketing, and politics meant for the modern C-Suite. This month’s topic? Inflation. 

Inflation is in many ways the most pernicious of economic problems because it affects so many people at the same time. Inflation is at its highest rate since the early 1980s, and, as I wrote recently in the New York Times, “Many Americans under 60 have relatively little experience with anything but comparatively low fuel costs, negligible interest rates, and stable prices. Virtually overnight these assumptions have been shaken.” Consumers are already changing their behavior, becoming more cautious and pessimistic about the state of the economy. All of those COVID savings are being eaten up through the mystery of runaway higher prices.

Most marketers have some real choices in how to respond to inflation and the goal is to be on the side of the consumer during these more difficult economic times.

Of course, the easiest solution is simply to raise prices. It’s no longer 10 cents for a pack of gum; one bellwether of higher prices is the cost of treats like chocolate and spearmint. In 1974 a pack of 7 sticks of gum cost 15 cents. That probably does not even cover the sales tax on a package of gum today. Chocolate is a luxury and luxuries have the most elastic pricing, so they generally have the most room to simply pass on cost increases, so don’t expect to pay the same at the Godiva store.

Other companies have tried hard to conceal price increases by simply reducing the quantity. Cereal companies are famous during inflationary times for simply taking an ounce or two out of those cereal boxes. Consumers can easily miss this shrinkage but go too far and expect a backlash.

Perhaps the best way to get on the side of consumers during this time is to offer bigger units at lower prices. This is why Sam’s Club and Costco generally do better during these times, as their business model is all about delivering more value for less.

Inflation is of course great for products that are perceived as keeping pace with inflation. No product is known for holding its value more than gold – expect the airwaves to be filled with ads that sell gold as the one true hedge against rising prices.

Fast food prices and their consumers are super sensitive to inflation. As the McDonald’s dollar menu inches up from $1, to $2, to $2, its competitors have done a great job advertising $5 fill-up boxes that are brimming with food. These “inflation busters” become the perfect partners to penny-pinched consumers. While prices for organic groceries soar, families know they can rely on these restaurants to remain affordable.

 

What does this mean for marketing? 

Growth slows during inflationary times, so marketing will also be more about fighting for market share than selling new products to first-time consumers. This means that effective competitive marketing will be a lot more useful for brands. Especially when consumers are motivated by cost-saving, nothing can be quite as powerful as reminding them of the superior value of your business versus competitors.

It’s important to remember that value is not always the same as cost. I once ran advertising on behalf of Microsoft against Linux. Linux was difficult to compete against because the company was giving away some of its software for free. We created the concept of the “total cost of ownership” and showed that the free offering, over time, would be more costly than paying Microsoft. This campaign labeled “Get the Facts” was a huge success.

Focus is important during inflationary times. The consumer is once again king, and behaving somewhat like a taxpayer, skeptical of companies who are focused on giving their money away for causes because they feel like they are being called upon to finance these programs out of pocket when they buy goods and services. Companies with a heavy focus on social programs should evaluate whether they will now be seen as out of step with the needs of consumers. While helping soup kitchens might still be a popular idea during inflationary times, funding the opera might raise eyebrows, and throwing a huge fashion show might alienate consumers at this time.

Now is the time to stop simply watching inflation worsen and pick the right strategy for your company, whether it is reducing package sizes, creating affordable bundles, raising costs, or digging into competitive advertising to fight for market share. As for me? I have to go load some gold bars into my car…

Up next in our Hitting the Mark column? The pandemic, inflation, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, political crises – all these issues raise the importance (and trickiness) of “brand leadership” in our modern era. As we noted in Stagwell’s 2021 research on brand reputation, those perceived as delivering solutions to the pandemic received a major reputational boost over the past few years. Today, a majority of voters are not confident in either the Biden administration (55%) or the Federal Reserve’s (56%) ability to fight inflation. Brands won’t deliver the silver bullet to America’s inflation woes but adapting strategy to give consumers a lifeline amid economic stress can go a long way towards building reputational capital.

Stagwell’s 2022 Reputation Quotient, our annual ranking of the 100 most visible companies in America, is set to release in late May. I look forward to sharing an updated picture of the state of corporate reputation and brand leadership then.

Mark Penn 

 

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This piece is part of Stagwell’s Marketing Frontiers series on the Creator Economy, Influencer Marketing, and Social Commerce. 

From new monetization channels for Creators to content formats to experiment with, Web3 will unlock a new chapter for the Creator Economy. Just as fast as influencer marketing hit its stride, this next era of the internet is forcing the players of the modern Creator Economy to rethink how influence can drive results. Authenticity, deep consumer-to-creator connections, and compelling content will still be the bread and butter of good influencer strategy. But how will Web3’s focus on a decentralized internet impact the ways creators, agencies, and brands interact? How can Creators help brands explore meaningfully in the budding Metaverse – and bring consumers along for the journey? Explore POVs from Stagwell’s marketing leaders on where the Creator Economy is headed in the Metaverse.

A New Class of Creators

John Doyle, Colle McVoy  

It’s difficult to imagine how the Metaverse will transform human existence writ large, much less how it will impact creators. To anchor speculation in something solid, it’s helpful to focus on three current aspects of the creator economy that may change the most when we turn on headsets, join in the Metaverse, and drop out of our IRL lives: expression, intimacy, and ownership.

Expression — Today, we may not think of event planners, architects, industrial engineers or sound designers as creators because our current social media access points don’t reward this type of talent. But in the Metaverse, it’s easy to imagine a new class of creators who at once will be able to plan an event, design an environment in which to hold the event (including lights and sound), and sell proprietary virtual products.

Intimacy — Following creators on social can feel like keeping up with a friend. As we interact in immersive, live experiences where creators exist in front of our goggled eyes, an already intimate experience will likely become even more so.

Ownership — The Metaverse will likely rewire the economics of how creators get paid. In a business with so many competing players — including tech platforms, talent agencies, and brands — creators have been subject to unfair business practices. They have formed non-profits to help restore balance in a still-forming industry. Like reinvented Bowie bonds, creators and their fans may co-own a creator’s work and the value it creates — in the spirit of Irene Zhao, an Instagram Influencer who explains why she created a DAO token to offer her fans.

Web3: Enter the Age of Virtual Avatars

Donetta Allen, HUNTER 

One of the issues that most creators face today is the indirect way that they earn compensation for work – they work tirelessly to excel in the industry and in turn increase the ad revenue and stock prices for the social platforms that can flip the switch on an algorithm at any time, significantly impacting the potential income of creators. Web3 and its central premise of creating a decentralized internet will provide a more direct link between creators and their fans. Expect this to increase the influence of creators who take steps to establish their footholds in this space now. These technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchains, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies, provide the tools to be fairly compensated for their work and allow creators and their communities to curate and claim ownership of their creations.

Ultimately, new business models centered in Web3 will lead to a more immersive, decentralized metaverse. As digital worlds evolve beyond simple games and marketing campaigns into fleshed-out worlds with avatars, digital goods, and experiences, the curious will seek guides to make the most of the experience, just as consumers currently look at Pinterest to plan a trip, or purchase items based on trending TikTok videos. Smart creators will adapt and prepare to meet – or lead – us in these digital spaces, pushing the boundaries of their current content and tapping emerging technology with the mindset to sell (or gift) it directly to their fans. Can you imagine a personalized birdwatching tour with a creator in a yet-to-be-created digital world or the opportunity to own the copyright of the first-ever video your favorite creator edited in the Metaverse? These unbelievable experiences are here, and creators and collaborative brands will lead the way in making these attainable to those who are currently only passively curious or dismissive of the vast opportunities – and income – available in future digital worlds.

 

Web3 and the Power of Nano-Influence

Sophia Fraioli, KWT Global 

The future and the way we connect is changing rapidly. The terms Web3, NFTs, and cryptocurrency inherently bring up many questions surrounding money and how we will “pay to play” in the digital future. To adequately talk about Web3, we first need to understand Web1 and Web2. While Web1 focused on the consumption of information, Web2 concentrated on creating and sharing information under a 3rd party-controlled system. Web3 has set to disrupt this system, bringing power back to creators and individuals by decentralizing the internet.

What does that mean for the creators and influencers that dominate the spaces Web2 has created? Estimates suggest U.S. influencer marketing will surpass $4 billion in 2022, leaving some to wonder if the practices and apps of Web2 will fall by the wayside once the “switch” to Web3 has become a reality.

However, the switch for these influencers from Web2 to Web3 may not be as complicated as it seems. With the decentralization of the internet that Web3 promises to bring, there are new opportunities for creators to make a name for themselves outside of the platforms that made them famous. DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) will allow creators to make money directly from their fan base without the middleman profiting off their efforts. NFTs, tokens, and cryptocurrency will enable fans to fund creators and potentially upend the existing relationship between creators and brands.

Trustworthiness is increasingly one of the most critical aspects of an influencer’s success, and with that in mind, it’s the nano-influencers who may gain the most under this shift. Authenticity is at the core of what Web3 promises. It will potentially be a place away from the control and persuasion of big business and those who find success in this new digital world will be those who are trusted most by their audiences.

Many say that those who profit most under Web2 will likely profit the least under Web3, but as Web3 unfolds, it’s up to agencies to pay close attention to this shift and see where we can fit into this new space. The best practices we have lived by for all brands in Web2 may be far more complicated in the Web3 space. NFTs will become a huge revenue source for some brands, while others may want to focus instead on activating their presence and engaging in the Metaverse. The change to Web3 won’t be a “light-switch” moment, but now is the time to start discussing and advising clients to be ready and stay close to their agencies as we look to succeed in this new digital universe.

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By

Jen Wood
SVP, Integrated Marketing
Allison+Partners

 

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When NIL legislation became law in July 2021, it opened the floodgates for college athletes to partner with companies and monetize their success. Historically, NIL opportunities were talked about in terms of appearances and autographs. But unsurprisingly, the bulk of all NIL deals to date have leaned on the success of digital solutions from social media posts and content to NFT creation.

The first nine months of this marketplace have seen a flurry of activity, but have also exposed a few opportunity areas:

  • Despite NIL legislation being touted as benefitting all college athletes, recent data from the platform Opendorse shows 51.1% of all NIL compensation has gone to college football players and 72.6% of all compensation has gone to male athletes.
  • Many experts say this imbalance is a result of systemic inequities that exist in sports. Brands could help correct this imbalance by purposefully crafting NIL programs that highlight a diverse representation of athletes across both men’s and women’s sports.
  • Even though there’s a desire from all stakeholders to have uniform NIL standards, there’s currently no governing body overseeing this. Depending on your industry, it’s still a bit of the Wild West in terms of who you can partner with. Rules differ by college and conference, leading some conferences to allow NIL partnerships with alcohol and sports betting companies, for instance, while other conferences and schools do not.
  • Brands must do their due diligence before approaching an athlete and hire an agency, especially if they’re in a highly regulated industry, to help navigate the constantly changing landscape and make recommendations around the athletes who can help achieve their goals.
  • There is great variability in the savviness and experience of those negotiating these deals, with some athletes represented by traditional agents and other athletes left to negotiate on their own. Some universities, such as Ohio State’s NIL Edge Team, have formed expressly to help athletes navigate this void. This creates inconsistencies in how services are priced and opens the door for certain athletes to be taken advantage of.

Partnering with a college athlete, as with any influencer, comes with risk. Not only are proper vetting and contract structure essential to a successful partnership, but athlete deals have more visibility than traditional influencer relationships. This heightens the opportunity for brands to be called out for unfair practices. Using tools, such as A+P’s Influencer Impact Score, helps provide consistent vetting and pricing guidance to ensure each deal is approached equitably.

One thing is for certain  the NIL marketplace’s size and influence will continue to grow. And athlete brand-building efforts will continue to be a huge focus, taking an even larger role in recruitment efforts. Not only will colleges seek to recruit college athletes who are already influencers and can bring that follower base to their school, but they’ll also look to market their institutions’ ability to help athletes build their personal brand by playing at the university. Expect athletes across all college sports to become savvier about their marketing potential and create an exponentially larger industry marketplace.

Jen Wood is senior vice president of Integrated Marketing at Allison+Partners. She’s spent the past 10-plus years of her career in Sports Marketing and Sponsorships overseeing all aspects of her clients sports marketing efforts – from sponsorship strategy development and partner identification, to negotiating multi-million-dollar sponsorship deals with collegiate and professional sports organizations and athletes, partnership activation, and ultimately measuring asset utilization and performance. She’s passionate about the opportunities sports marketing provides and is always ready to chat with an interested brand.

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