Influencers are nothing new. Throughout history, there have been influential figures of all types peddling their wares, spreading their ideas, and making waves among their contemporaries. What distinguishes today’s influencers from those of long ago are the tools currently used to amplify these influential voices.
While historical figures had messenger pigeons, the Pony Express, and early Morse Code, today’s influencers have countless technological innovations they can use to break through the clutter. And with so many voices in the crowd, breaking through the clutter is imperative. While the most well-known historical influencers could reach hundreds, and in some cases, even thousands of people, our networks today can reach millions in moments.
So what would happen if we took three of these historical influencers and equipped them with modern tools and sound strategic advice? The results, we imagine, would be pretty impressive. Take a look:
To be approached by a Renaissance Man such as Benjamin Franklin would be a challenge in itself for any agency, but Ben came to us with a particularly unique problem. Though his invention, the bifocal, had been selling steadily, sales started to falter during a public relations crisis. Word of his extramarital affairs in France had spread, and his products, as well as his reputation, were taking the hit.
We audited Ben’s past communication strategy, including the anonymously published Poor Richard’s Almanac. Recognizing that this was not a time for cover-ups and seclusion, we instead pushed Ben into the spotlight. We advised him to be open and honest about the situation, to “Be Frank.” Ben loved this slogan, and adapted it into a thought leadership piece he titled “It’s Time to Be Frank,” in which he took responsibility for his mistakes, and pledged to be open and honest. The public responded positively, and we advised Ben to use “Be Frank” in a complete rebrand of his bifocal product. In rebranding his bifocals, Ben stressed the importance of being yourself. The “Be Frank” motto inspires consumers to put their best foot forward and own their smart style.
Additionally, to couple this surge in sales with his thought leadership piece, we encouraged Ben to be transparent about his philanthropic giving efforts. Only weeks after “It’s Time to Be Frank” was published, Ben launched a second piece detailing his charitable efforts in contributing to the Library Company of Philadelphia, a unique action for his time. We were able to turn Ben’s negative situation into a positive one through an original combination of thought leadership and brand ownership that will promote Ben’s inventions among consumers and make him a household name for years to come.
For most of history, magical beings have been forced to remain in the darkness. For witches in particular, self-promotion can be a matter of life and death. But Sage Prior, a dedicated and innovative witch, was fed-up with hiding. She began a series of monthly coven meetings, but because witches have been the target of violence for hundreds of years, potential attendees were wary to join together, fearing their safety. Sage realized these meetings would never be enough. To educate the world and bring an end to the stigmatization of witchcraft, she needed to start a new kind of movement.
After some emotional brainstorming sessions with Sage, we helped her realize that the message she was trying to spread was not exclusive to witches, but to all who felt like outsiders. The call to action “Summon Yourself” became a slogan Sage used to address all who suffered in society by virtue of who they were. Through creating social media pages and sharing thought-provoking memes and articles that instigated comments and discussion, Sage was able to build up a following of people from all walks of life who felt lost in a sea of normativity. By enabling people to embrace their inner magic, Sage created a cohesive, inclusive environment – and a safe space online for all involved.
After building up her online fan-base, we recommended that Sage start promoting a larger scale Winter Solstice meetup called The Othering, a conference in honor of all those who have been deemed an “Other.” Sage planned a conference with speakers, art installations, and breakout sessions with discussions on the topic of being unashamedly yourself in society. We recommended finding partners and sponsors in the feminine care and natural beauty industries, and promoting their products alongside love potions, voodoo dolls, and other magical wares. The Othering was a success, and Sage has been invited to expand the conference in communities across the globe. As one conference attendee put it: “I left with so much confidence, I now know I can summon my true inner self in any situation and want to spread this magic to everyone.”
Cavemen often get a bad rep. They’re not known for their intelligence, though they must have been extremely skilled to survive in tough climate and rough conditions. But they do have the body, skills, and knowledge to show for it. Take our client, Grunt. Grunt came to us as the originator of the clean-living, raw, paleo lifestyle – a lifestyle that was forged through living on the edge. After seeing an uptick in fitness, food, and health blogs, Grunt came to us to help him rise above the noise to share his authentic knowledge with the most committed of followers. For Grunt, survival is everything – whether that be survival in the wilderness, or survival of the brand in the online ecosystem.
We knew a polished voice would alienate other cavepeople who spoke like Grunt, so we advised him to use his natural, unique voice. His slogan, “Live No Die” emphasizes his commitment to spread his life-saving knowledge. Because Grunt wrote stories on his cave walls, we encouraged him to transition these pieces into blog posts on his site. His top performing blog articles align to his survivalist content strategy. His blog, “Writing on Wall,” features hit articles such as “What to Do When Have No Fire,” “Cook Meat So You No Get Sick And Die,” and “How to Kill Big Animal Before Big Animal Kill You,” all in Grunt’s authentic voice.
Grunt aims to attract a like-minded audience who are health and fitness driven, raw, natural, and rugged, but also those who wish to contribute to the survival of the species. We built a best-in-class app for Grunt with a message board that allows his audience to ask questions about his expertise, and learn from the experiences others have had. This allows them to embrace their inner animal, and evolve – into a better equipped, more resilient version of themselves.
Written by Naomi Barnett, Editor. Designed by David Wong, Visual Designer.