The Influencer’s view

Cannes in 360

Issue 48 | September 2018

Harry Hugo, Co-founder, Director and Chief Campaigns Officer. The Goat Agency

Harry is a 23-year-old entrepreneur and one of the UK's leading exponents of influencer marketing. The Goat Agency has offices in London and New York. It works with brands including Lidl, Formula E, British Airways, New Look, Bumble, Malibu and Chelsea FC.

Directory: Okay, so why did you go to the Cannes Lions Festival?

HH: Very good question, especially when we got to Stansted and found the flights to Nice had been cancelled. Instead of just shrugging and saying, you know what, maybe we have other things to do, the four of us jumped in the car and drove. Fifteen hours later, there we were.
And given Keith Weed's press release on June 17th about how Unilever was not going to work with influencers who bought followers, it was good to be there when our industry was top of mind.
We're not advertising guys but we'd heard from mates that Cannes Lions was a lot of fun. I guess it was FOMO. We wanted to see what it was all about. Also, we knew some good people were going to be there and it was a chance to be able to really sit down with them and have a proper discussion. Here, you can squeeze into someone's diary for an hour if you're lucky. We thought, if we could sit and have lunch on a beach or relax in a bar with clients and a bottle of rose´ on the table, then we could build lasting relationships.
Also, the online content space is growing so fast, it was an opportunity to find out from others in the same line as us what they think we should all know.
The thing is, we are all young. I'm 23, the average age of Goat is 24. The founders of LadBible are 27. It was brilliant to be able to talk to like-minded people about an industry that's changing so fast.
At the same time, we wanted to meet people in Cannes who have been in advertising a long time because we know we have a lot to learn. We could, and did, take a lot from them about solving some of our problems.
So, it was friends and it was clients, it was to have fun but to do the groundwork for deals we might be able to put together way ahead in the future.

Directory: Did you register as official delegates of the festival?

HH: No, though we did keep an eye on the awards and it was great to see our mates from LadBible winning a much-deserved Grand Prix with AMV BBDO for "The Trash Isles". Jungle Creations, who we know, were there as well, picking up awards for Yoti and Walkers.

Directory: So, what did you do when you drove into town?

HH: First thing we did is get into a WhatsApp group of about 70 people, who were all sharing links and downloads to tickets and invitations. We ended up going to a lot of villa and pool parties but probably not in the way you might have done it.

Directory: (Ruefully) Yes, you're right about that. We talk a lot about social media here at Directory Manor without being very good at actually using it.

HH: We spent a bit of time on various yachts but the way we managed to get a load of conversations going was simply dropping a pin on WhatsApp and saying, hey, we're here in this particular bar and there's a bottle of wine open, if you're nearby come and have a chat and the rose´ is on us.

Directory: What was the best thing and what was the worst thing about Cannes?

HH: Best thing? Well, very different for me because this is not how I usually spend my time, but sitting by a swimming pool at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon and drinking Pina Colada, that was good, discussing ideas that might turn into a collaborative project one-day.
How we can shape our market the way we'd like to.
Which is a neat segue through to the other good thing, which was Keith Weed's announcement because suddenly we were giving interviews and discussing influencer marketing with people who might not otherwise have had it on their radar.

(Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, chose the Cannes Lions Festival to declare that Unilever would not work with any brand or influencers who bought followers. Given that marketers are often billed £75,000 for a single post mentioning their brand by someone with over a million followers or £1,500 for a micro-influencer with 10,000 followers, the invitation to commit fraud is clear. It has been suggested that as many as 60 million Facebook accounts could be bots and 15% of all Twitter accounts might be fake. Adding to the problems for influencer marketing, it is widely believed to be unregulated and endemically fraudulent.)

To be honest, he managed to make headlines without saying a lot. At Goat we've been talking about this for over a year, that we should be measured by real results and not by the number of followers. It's how we do business. We are selling a product rather than a service so we agree a cost upfront and then we deliver the results we guaranteed we would. It's transparent, it's driven by ROI and there is no room anywhere for misinterpretation.

Why use TV, which is spray and pray marketing when influencers can bring you narrowly targeted audiences who you couldn't normally reach because they are hiding behind their ad-blockers. Frankly, Keith Weed should have been saying what he said three years ago.

And the worst thing about Cannes Lions? Because we weren't registered delegates, we couldn't get into the air-conditioned halls of the Palais and the major hotels were closed to us too. So I'll remember Cannes forever as being hot, very, very hot.

It was SO HOT.

We returned home with a goal, which is to return to the festival next year but as award-winners. LadBible have shown us how to do it. We're 75 people, non-funded, growing fast and pioneering the industry. We're working with some famous brands and we are doing innovative work. See you next year!

Directory: Thank you, Harry.

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