Lessons Learned in Influencer Marketing from Kanye West

Thinking about partnering with an influencer on a marketing campaign? Think long and hard about it.

“I miss the old Kanye, straight from the ‘Go Kanye, chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye, I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye, The always rude Kanye.”

You know, I really didn’t want to have to address this topic. I was a big Kanye fan — his entire journey and success as both and artist and an entrepreneur really were inspiring. There’s no question — Kanye made some poor decisions and said some things that no one should ever say, which is unfortunate because of all that he has achieved. The backlash and excommunication from brands that backed Kanye has been swift and unforgiving. 

The Influencer Domino Effect

Even more unfortunate, however, is the impact Kanye had as an influencer for brands that carried and supported his products. From Adidas to Balenciaga, brands have likely built and planned their budget and projected revenue for not only the rest of 2022, but for 2023. That being said, they made these projections with Kanye, not without — so now what?

How does Adidas recovery lost earnings form Yeezy branded shoes?How will Balenciaga potentially build a whole new line of fashion products that they may have planned to collaborate with Kanye on for the 2023 season?

In short, they won’t — which in short, is Armageddon for 2023 planned earnings from these brands.

Which brings up a very interesting topic. How can brands partner with influencers on a ridiculous scale who is so massive, so global and brings so much pull to consumers with the off chance that this influencer pulls a “Kanye” and goes off the deep in with comments and remarks?

It truly is, or could be — making a deal with the devil.

However, there are three ways that brands can position themselves to hopefully prevent unforeseen circumstances, like what we are seeing with Kayne.

Related Article: The 10 Commandments of B2B Influencer Marketing

Re-Read Those Chapters

Kanye West getting dropped from brands isn’t anything new; the only thing that is new is the context and reasoning behind it. Tiger Woods is another example where brands made the decision to walk away (again, under very different circumstance).

What’s important to note is that brands do their research with influencers before investing massive amounts of capital, energy and planning to back them into the products with which they go to market. Tiger Woods maybe didn’t have many red flags on this topic, but Kanye sure did. He’s previously made statements in the past that should have caused brands to raise their eyebrows.

Being able to re-read the chapters of an influencer’s life will help brands understand the type of person they are looking to partner with and what they stand for — which is essential before signing any sort of endorsement deal.

Have ‘The Talk’

Based upon some of those footnotes from previous chapters of said influencer’s life — you may need to have “the talk.” The talk should explore any issues or public statements influencers have had in the past that may be taken negatively, especially if your brand is considering partnering with this person.

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