Influencer marketing specialist agency Whalar has started its first office in Asia, based out of Singapore. Matt Sutton has been appointed as CEO of Asia. He was most recently the CEO of ada, the marketing specialist unit of telecom operator Axiata.
When asked why he opted for Whalar, Sutton said: “I wanted to work with a company that delivers great creative content and a business with a technology platform at the centre. Because just ad tech does not tell the whole story.”
The agency intends expanding across the region through 2019. Its global client list includes Unilever, HP, Samsung, Apple, Diageo and Dior.
In a vast glut of social media and influencer marketing focused agencies, Whalar believes it has an edge due to its technology driven model and its investor and chairman, ad man Sir John Hegarty, the founder of BBH.
Whalar claims that unlike other agencies in the space, it does not rely on amassing a vast bank of influencers, and asking them to bid on client assignments. Instead, its technology model allows it to zero in on the most appropriate content creators for every assignment.
These influencers are whetted to ensure they have an authentic, engaged and bot-free fan following, and only then briefed.
Both Whalar and the marketing team of the brand can track the influencers and their activity every step of the way, and make changes, if necessary.
Whalar also claims to be trying to close the loop on the marketing process, tracking the impact the influencer-led activation had on the brand.
While it does works with advertising and media agencies, Sutton believes Whalar has the potential to disrupt the traditional marketing communications business. Influencer marketing is estimated to be worth $10 billion by 2020 and he foresees the money shifting out of media budgets.
On the creative front, he said: “If HP, for example, wants 200 shots of a new computer in 50 different locations and want it in 30 days, we can get it done quickly.
“In the traditional agency model, you would need to fly to these places with production and crew, it would take three months and cost $2 million. With our tech, you can search, matchmake, curate, commission and sign off.”
Asked if he regarded agencies as ‘frenemies’, Sutton said: “I see all brands and businesses moving towards hybrid models where some capabilities are in-housed, some services provided by broad-ranging agencies and some by specialist partners. That combination will be very specific to the needs and capabilities of the individual brands. “
Asked about the revenue potential of Whalar, Sutton said: “With over half of the world’s population, home to one third of all global marketing budgets and closing in on 45% of all budgets allocated to digital marketing, there is clearly a huge demand here.
“I can see content marketing accounting for 15%-25% of all digital marketing budgets in 2019. Our focus for now is squarely on satisfying customer demands for volume and authenticity of digital content and creative and influencer marketing, rather than specific revenue numbers.”
Speaking about Whalar’s foray into Asia, Akash Mehta global digital manager at LVMH for Dior Parfums said: “Following the success in partnering with Whalar last year, in terms of quality content creation and results, we are truly confident that the same will follow now in Asia.
“Their creative tech plus service model really sets them apart.”
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