Shaquille O’Neal set up his new ad agency in Atlanta because the city is a ‘driver of Black culture.’ The Georgia capital is now one of the best places in America for diverse advertising agencies.

Omid Farhang and Shaquille O'Neal
Majority founding partners Omid Farhang and Shaquille O’Neal.

  • Shaquille O’Neal cofounded a new ad agency, Majority, in Atlanta.
  • “Atlanta is a driver of Black culture, which is a driver of pop culture,” O’Neal said.
  • Cofounder Omid Farhang said Atlanta agencies like Majority can amplify diverse voices.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Shaquille O’Neal last week unveiled his newest venture, Majority, an advertising agency based in Atlanta that will focus on telling diverse stories.

According to Majority cofounder Omid Farhang, the NBA legend will be more than a silent partner.

“Shaq’s role will be wide-ranging,” Farhang told Insider. “He will help open doors, connect dots, create opportunities, celebrate successes, and advance the overall agenda of the agency wherever possible.”

O’Neal may even jump into the creative pitch meetings when he’s needed and available, said Farhang.

He said: “Knowing he’s a busy guy with many business interests, we will utilize him judiciously where we think he can have maximum impact. This is not celebrity gimmickry, it’s genuine partnership.”

Farhang, O’Neal, and two founding partners – CSO Asmirh Davis and CMO Jorge Hernandez – decided early on that Atlanta would be the right place for their agency. They made their choice a big part of the opening salvo posted on their website.

Atlanta’s not the east or west coast, so it’s not the type of agency you’d find there, the pair said. Atlanta’s where “the Hollywood of the South collides with the Silicon Valley of the South.”

The choice of location says a lot about their agency and the industry at large. For one thing, O’Neal is a powerhouse marketing force, and, as such, he could have chosen to open an agency in a more traditional spot, like New York or Los Angeles.

By choosing Atlanta, O’Neal and Farhang have extended a conversation that’s been going on for years about how diverse voices can be heard more loudly in advertising. Last year, for example, amid protests and soul-searching after several Black people were violently killed, about 600 creative professionals signed an open letter calling for more inclusion in the industry, as AdWeek reported at the time.

Signatories called for agencies to rethink their diversity policies, expand internships and residencies for under-represented groups, and finally put an end to the “boys’ club” mentality in the industry.

The letter said: “Though advertising agencies boast some of the most politically progressive business leaders in America, agency leadership has been blind to the systemic racism and inequity that persists within our industry. Many gallons of ink have been spilled on op-eds and think pieces, but tangible progress has eluded this industry for too long.”

One way to change the conversation was to move it to a new location, according to Majority. In press materials prepped for the launch, O’Neal said: “Atlanta is a driver of Black culture, which is a driver of pop culture. And pop culture is where the best marketing lives.”

Majority’s not the only Atlanta agency that’s tackling diversity. Last December, a number of Georgia agencies signed a pledge saying their agencies would reflect their home city’s population – of which 62% are people of color – by 2030, according to AdAge.

Farhang had done work around the world, everywhere from Los Angeles to Boulder to London, before he landed in Atlanta. “Atlanta changed me. To the degree that I felt the strong desire to plant my roots long term and figure out how to be contributing members of our community,” he said.

Long before he enlisted O’Neal as a partner, Farhang had been thinking of a way to bottle his feelings about Atlanta, repackaging them as a creative agency. He’d looked at the leadership of other Atlanta agencies, and realized the city’s diversity wasn’t well-reflected.

He’d met O’Neal on a project for American Express, so he reached out to see whether O’Neal might share his passion for creating a diverse agency in Atlanta.

“As the industry confronts this longstanding diversity problem, what if we started an agency in Atlanta that actually tapped into the diverse creative firepower that makes Atlanta unlike any other city in America and fuels so much of popular culture?” he asked.

Majority’s starting with a few clients, including goPuff, the on-demand delivery app.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to get access to and create Story Pins on Pinterest with an approved business account

Pinterest users with approved business accounts can now test out a new feature called Story Pins.

  • You can get Story Pins on Pinterest, similar to Instagram Stories, with a Pinterest business account.
  • With Story Pins, you can combine multiple images, videos, and text to market and promote your business in new ways.
  • Pinterest Story Pins are still in the beta phase of development so you’ll need to be approved before you can use this feature.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

At the end of 2020, Pinterest launched a new feature called Story Pins. If you’re familiar with Instagram Stories, the concept is fairly similar, with the added twist of being pin-able. 

Currently, Story Pins are only available for Pinterest business accounts, and you need to request access in order to create them. Here’s a step-by-step process on how that works.

Once you’ve been approved to use Story Pins, you can create them in the “Create” tab the same way you would any other Pin, but with the added advantage of being able to combine multiple images, videos, and text to promote your business in creative and unique ways. Play around with it and see what suits your business best.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 Creative Ways Brands Are Using Influencers

Most people tend to associate influencers with social media. However, influencers have been around for a lot longer than most people might think and can be dated as far back as the middle ages with royalty, popes, knights, earls, and artists. 

In recent years, influencers have exploded in popularity on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Snap, Pinterest, and TikTok. This has resulted in the emergence of 4 distinct influencer types: nano, micro, macro, and celebrity influencers.

Image courtesy of Tribe

Brands, both large and small are tapping into the influencer space at an ever-increasing rate. That’s why it may not come as a surprise to hear that the market has been forecasted to be worth more than $15 billion by 2022. Here’s a fresh look at some creative ways brands are using influencers plus key stats and tips to bookmark.

Product discovery

The beauty of the internet is that it is now easier than ever to discover new products and services. Brands are aware of this and they are also aware that influencers are one of the top ways by which people discover new products and services, far more than with traditional means. 

Recent statistics show that “71%  of consumers prefer to discover brands themselves via channels such as friend’s recommendations, browsing in-store or online searches, than from traditional forms of push advertising, with endorsements acting as a valuable tool to spark discovery.” 

Nowadays, one of the quickest ways to raise awareness about a new product is to have many influencers simultaneously talking about it. Take the Ivy Park X Adidas launch in January of this year. Ahead of the sports apparel launch, a number of influencers and celebrities received boxes of clothes from the brands and posted to social media, amplifying the publicity around it. The result was that the line sold out within an hour of being released, showing the impact of such efforts. 

Shatter stereotypes through sensitivity

Many notable artists like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Alice Cooper, at some point in time, called Detriot home. Despite Detroit’s celebrity status in pop culture as a place that starts new trends, it has had issues ‘shaking off’ its Bronx-like image, and in 2018 it was dubbed the worst city in America to live in.

In order to debunk the Detroit stereotype, Bedrock Real Estate launched an influencer campaign via film to show the positive aspects of the city and make local residents feel to be from Detroit. The video acquired over 150,000 views and was endorsed by local influencers like Big Sean who narrated the video showing his sensitive side, Shinola, and Detroit Bikes.

Leverage the ‘new normal’

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. Ultimately, working from home has become the new normal. To take advantage of ‘our new’ work from home (WFH) routines, Canadian clothing brand Henri Vézina launched an ad campaign displaying male models wearing half-suits.

Image courtesy of Henri Vézina

Whilst, the campaign did not directly use influencers; however, it did manage to generate a lot of chatter over social media by tying in our new unfound reality that a lot of us are working from home and using Zoom to hold workplace meetings. The creative ad campaign resulted in 100s of influencers organically sharing the campaign. 

Image curation and branding

A brand is only ever as powerful as the willingness of the public to purchase from it and the public is more likely to financially support a brand if they respond positively to its branding and public image. This is why brands invest massive resources in building a specific image and perception among the public. 

Take Victoria’s Secret, for example, that was once the top lingerie brand in the world that has since lost sizable market share amid accusations of body shaming, transphobia, and a lack of diversity. When FentyXSavage, a newer lingerie line, came out with the intention of taking over Victoria’s Secret, they made sure to brand themselves as the ‘antithesis to Victoria’s Secret,’ and this was partially done with influencer marketing. They collaborated with plus-size, transgender, and influencers of color so define themselves as distinct and inclusive.

Drive ‘hidden’ public demand

The power of influencers to drive public demand for specific goods and services is difficult to overstate as has been proven many times in the past. Take beauty blenders; soft sponges that are used for the application of makeup. They were first created in 2009 but it was not until the mid-2010s that beauty influencers began touting them in makeup tutorials and review videos. 

The then-unknown beauty tool was deemed a necessary item for everyone’s makeup kit and exploded in popularity. According to an article by WhoWhatWear, 17 beauty blenders are sold every minute. What this means is that the power of influencer marketing can drive public interest for new products that they were otherwise unaware of.

Campaign tips and tools

If you are thinking about running a micro-influencer campaign, then here are some useful tools that you may want to consider using:

  • Influencer discovery platforms: There are a variety of influencer platforms you can use, such as Upfluence, Influence, Tribe, AspireIQ, and Post For Rent.
  • Analyze your connections: You can use the Chrome extension to analyze your email, LinkedIn, and Facebook connections to discover if you or your friends have existing relationships with influencers.
  • Auditing influencer profiles: There are a number of tools that enable you to analyze an influencer profile including engagement rate, follower authenticity, and so on. These tools include Upfluence, Klear, Hypeauditor, and Analisa. Infactica can also be used to analyze banned TikTok user accounts. 
  • Web scraping: Octoparse can be used to extract both tweets and Instagram posts, and other tools with similar functions include Parsehub and Scrapinghub.

Key stats

The impact of influencer marketing not just on purchasing decisions but on popular culture cannot be overstated and this is reflected in the increased influencer marketing budgets in the last few years. Here are some key statistics you need to know:

  • Influencers are on track to replace celebrities as the go-to gatekeepers of consumer trust as 6 in 10 teenagers trust influencers over celebrities. 
  • Influencer marketing campaigns earn a 650% return for every dollar spent
  • The influencer marketing industry is expected to hit $10 billion by 2020

Google searches for “influencer marketing” have grown a whopping 1500% and it is clear that influencer marketing is here to stay. Influencer marketing has been able to snatch a sizable chunk of business and power from traditional marketing because it does something the latter could not do; form genuine connections.

For most people, their favorite influencer is not necessarily a celebrity that they idolize but a fellow civilian who is relatable to them and makes content that is relevant to them. Essentially, influencers act as trusted friends to their followers which means that they are more likely to buy whatever the influencer recommends to this.

This has, in turn, manifested in influencer marketing providing a greater return on investment for those who leverage it as well as relevant product and service recommendations for consumers who benefit from it.

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