Video Influencers: Starling

Guest post by Ashutosh Munshi, Director of India Creative & Content and Mumbai Consumer & Lifestyle.

Tanmay Bhat, an Indian stand-up comedian and co-founder of All India Bakchod (AIB), recently created a Snapchat story using face swap, mimicking Indian legends Sachin Tendulkar (cricketer) and Lata Mangeshkar (singer). This became national news in India and trended for a couple of days, driving national outrage based on this alleged insult towards the country’s most beloved icons.

While that video was criticized, it must be acknowledged that people respected him for the kind of work he has done in the past, especially when he took a stand on Net Neutrality. He has established himself as a comedian, creative writer and actor who creates content for brands. What remains to be seen though, is how brands will react to the newfound controversy and choose to work with him and AIB. Or not.

There are a number of similar “YouTube stars” today. And much has been said about 2016 being the year of the video influencer. But influencer engagement is nothing new. Movie stars, sports personalities, celeb mums and others have been tapped by brands for a long time now. What has changed, however, is the role of the influencer.

As a result, influencer engagement has to evolve too, and agencies and brands must move swiftly to create new means of marketing. Influencer partnerships are inherently earned-centric with social extensions. When done right, these strategic partnerships can extend beyond paid and owned, resulting in earned success. Because it’s not just the individual as much as the followers he or she has that will help tell brand stories.

As a communications marketing firm, Edelman helps brands connect with influencers in ways that resonate meaningfully with consumers. So with video influencers emerging as today’s most trusted storytellers, it is imperative to help brands partner with them. It is through these mutually-beneficial partnerships that we can tell brand stories using the credibility, passion and conviction of these influencers, while simultaneously showing how our clients’ products or services can enrich people’s lives.

Punctuating our commitment to elevate brands within this evolution of influencer engagement, we announce the launch of Starling, a business offering created to meet the video influencer needs of our clients. Globally, Starling combines the talents from Edelman and UEG teams focused on video influencer engagement and marketing.

Across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region we’ve invested significantly in training teams in our offices to be proficient with this new offering. These colleagues lead as local experts when it comes to identifying and contracting influencers, using data and insights with new tools, developing concepts, planning and executing programs in close partnership with client strategist teams.

Studies show that when video influencer marketing is done correctly, it brings in more than five times the return on investment, twice the sales of paid advertising and 37 percent higher retention rate over paid advertising (source).

With this as a context, we will continue to invest in this part of the business and in turn, help our clients connect meaningfully with their stakeholders and attract new consumers in a way that is truly unique to the communications environment today.

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