W Communications has this week launched a new agency division, W Influencer, as it looks to bring the benefits of “earned advocacy” to a wider range of brands.
W Influencer will focus on recruiting unpaid support from influencers, believing that “influence” derives from authority in context and not just popularity and total reach. The agency argues that too much influencer marketing is ineffective because it is paid for.
The new division will look to help brands apply influencer marketing to marketing and comms challenges, with activity including beta testing, qualitative research, promotions and activation, trade marketing, loyalty programmes and brand building.
W Influencer will be led by Sinead Nelson, who joined W from Reebok in 2014 and has since led influencer programmes for clients including Levi’s, Lynx, and the Pig Luxury hotel group.
She will report to W founder and CEO Warren Johnson (pictured).
Johnson said: “Although some brands define influencer marketing narrowly as a paid channel – writing cheques to YouTubers and Instgrammers to simply endorse their products over social media – W believes this compromises the authenticity and integrity of the message and therefore reduces its value.”
“Today’s highly media literate consumers are shunning commercial messaging and shallow endorsement, instead craving engaging, relevant stories and useful, interesting content shared by people who look, behave, and transact as they do.”