Lessons learned in influencer marketing from Kanye West

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

“I miss old Kanye, straight out of the ‘Go Kanye, soul chop Kanye, set goals Kanye, hate new Kanye, moody Kanye, always rude Kanye.”

You know, I really didn’t want to have to broach this topic. I was a big Kanye Fan – his whole journey and success as an artist and entrepreneur was truly inspiring. There’s no doubt – Kanye made some bad decisions and said things no one should ever say, which is unfortunate because of all he’s accomplished. The backlash and excommunication of marks who backed Kanye was quick and ruthless.

The domino effect of influencers

Even more unfortunate, however, is the impact Kanye has had as an influencer for the brands that have worn and supported his products. From Adidas to Balenciaga, brands have likely been building and planning their budgets and forecasting their revenues not just for the rest of 2022, but for 2023. That being said, they made those projections with Kanye, not without — now what?

How does Adidas recoup lost revenue from Yeezy branded shoes?

In short, they won’t – which, in short, is Armageddon for these brands’ projected revenues in 2023.

Which brings up a very interesting topic. How can brands partner with influencers on a ridiculous scale that are so massive, so global, and so appealing to consumers with the risk of that influencer pulling a “Kanye” and walking away with comments and remarks ?

It really is, or could be, a deal with the devil.

However, brands can position themselves in three ways to hopefully avoid unforeseen circumstances, like what we see with Kayne.

Related article: The 10 commandments of B2B influencer marketing

Read these chapters

Kanye West getting fired from brands is nothing new; the only thing that is new is the context and the reasoning behind it. Tiger Woods is another example where brands made the decision to walk away (again, under very different circumstances).

What’s important to note is that brands do their research with influencers before investing massive amounts of capital, energy, and planning to support them in the products they go on the market with. market. Tiger Woods may not have had many red flags on this topic, but Kanye did. He has made statements in the past that should have raised eyebrows among brands.

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 critical before signing any type of endorsement deal. .

Have ‘The Talk’

Based on some of these footnotes from previous chapters in said influencer’s life – you might just have to have “the conversation”. The talk should explore any issues or public statements influencers have had in the past that might be taken negatively, especially if your brand is considering partnering with that person.

The interview should also be a legal contract, which states in writing that if the influencer says or does things that are not in line with the brand image, they could be terminated or financially liable. (Which I’m sure the brands mentioned above have).

Related article: Why your brand should care about influencer marketing

Listen to your customers

Hopefully, the influencer you’re considering partnering with hasn’t had any previous issues and all is well. However, in the social digital world we all live in, this is unlikely. You and the brand you represent will need to decide if the previous shortcomings are worth overcoming, or if you should just forget about associating with the influencer and move on to someone else.

What’s important to keep in mind is how your customers feel. What is important to people who buy from you? What won’t your customers put up with? Answering these questions will help you assess the risk of partnering with someone whose potential has a history of “negative press” due to comments or situations.

Conclusion: is it worth the divorce?

At the end of the day, you really can never predict what is going to happen. In the case of Tiger Woods, many brands let him down during the challenges he faced in his personal life; however, many of the deals he lost returned or new ones emerged. Again, Tiger Woods’ story is not Kanye West’s story – and I’m not advocating for these brands to take him back or defend his behavior.

What I’m saying is that there are always signs and brands really need to look at those potential warning signs and red flags before they get down on their knees and enter into a marriage that could significantly harm in the image of the brand. Many of the brands that dropped Kanye are justified, but more questions will arise as to why these brands made deals in the first place, especially because of all the previous signs that might have been there.

Willie Nelson once said, “Do you know why divorces are so expensive? Because they are worth it. Well, in Kanye’s case, that divorce will be expensive and probably worth it. Unfortunately, brands will have to find a way forward. They will have to be creative and look at the historical fundamentals that have made their brand successful.

Seek to engage in dialogues with customers, understand their thoughts and feelings about what’s important to them, and move forward, together, for the betterment of the brand and the betterment of humanity.

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