Marketing has to be more subversive and less direct. Marketing has to occur where the people are already or where they are going to be. This is why television is having a difficult time with navigating the digital arena where brands are no longer willing to pay for ads that run during television shows that can be recorded and those ads can be fast-forwarded through.
Influencers are now becoming almost as important as athletes. A YouTuber or Instagram person is just as recognizable as some Grammy winners. Brands are latching on to these stars in popular culture and utilizing them to promote their products. The problem is these influencers are often only interested in promoting their own brand and everything is secondary. There isn’t any loyalty.
The days of Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan covering the Reebok logos on their Olympic warm ups and stating, “I work for Nike, the USA isn’t paying me to wear Reebok,” are gone. Artists affiliated with brands are often seen wearing other brands. This crossing of imagery is problematic. Those who are shaped by influencers can be conflicted and what’s worse is if the artist wearing a non-endorsed brand is seen in that brand in a non-promotional fashion then that brand becomes more authentic.
I wrote a Puma article on Meek Mill where I really took a dig at the idea of influencers being critical to the growth of footwear brands.
In this article I discussed the fact that Puma was doing a very poor job of promoting its footwear to men. As strong as the growth has been I said that it was fragile because it’s based on Rihanna and classics. The growth is rooted in fashion and that’s dangerous because there aren’t any trends in fashion, only movements dictated by the streets and then copied and given the term “trend” by consultants and designers. Trends shift without warning. Influencers help to maintain interest, but what happens when influencers do things like this:
In a video that has been watched 52 Million times since it’s release Kendrick Lamar is wearing the Nike Cortez. This is on par with his authenticity as the Cortez is primarily known as the footwear of Los Angeles. Others may call it the footwear of Forrest Gump, but that’s not the point. The problem here is Kendrick is a very prominent endorser of Reebok (owned by adidas). I’ve often stood lock step with sneakerheads in their ringing endorsement of Kanye West being one of the reasons for the shift in footwear to adidas. I’ve even argued with evidence from my own footwear sales how adidas became popular in the resale market and with men and women after Kanye was signed. I do still feel that he is influential, but marketing is a slippery slope and if influencers are willing to forego loyalty and wear other brands how influential can they really be?
Marketing is changing and what is becoming more fact than anything else is an influencer may not be the best means of promoting your brand.