January 11, 2019

ZEITLINES | 01.11.19


This week, the always exciting Consumer Electronics Show is taking place in Vegas and there has also been a lot of buzz about the app of the moment (appropriately named “Moment” ) designed to help you monitor, manage and help curb your family’s screen time. So, Finance Clerk Joseph Drennan introduces us to a more active approach to making your kids screen time healthy time with one of the best toys (and best friends) a parent could have. This week was also the first speech from the Oval Office and CEO Beverley Hammond tackles the topic of fake influencers. Coincidence??


The Screen Patrol Is On A Roll

Joseph Drennan, Finance Clerk

Raise your hand if you’re a parent and your child/children spend part of their day in front of a screen. If you can’t see me (which I hope you can’t because that would be a little creepy), I have mine as high as it can go.

I have two kids, 16 months and 4 years old. Can you guess which one has the problem with letting the tablet go? Now, don’t get me wrong, every kid needs cartoons in their life, but binge-watching Paw Patrol on Netflix is a little too much for a 4-year-old, don’t you think?

Before you start judging me, it’s not like my son is inside all day watching T.V. We play outside, bike ride, toboggan, swim, take day trips to the zoo and the Science Centre, etc. and he loves doing all of it – he’s quite active for a 4-year-old. However, parents like myself know what it’s like the moment you take that tablet away… game over. Especially when you’re trying to avoid waking up a little brother from his daily nap. By the end of it, you have not one, but two cranky boys. Ugh.

Now, not necessarily all screen time is bad for our children. My wife and I (mostly my wife, ok fine, my wife alone) discovered the Think & Learn Smart Cycle. It’s a stationary bike for children that connects to a tablet or smart T.V. and allows them to play games while learning and getting exercise.

We thought this was perfect for him, since bike riding is one of his favourite things to do, especially with winter upon us when it’s too cold and dark to play outside. As expected, he absolutely loves it. He plays on it almost every evening after school and to add to it, doesn’t watch nearly as much T.V. as he used to. Although his screen time may not be less than what it used to be, it’s the way he’s using the screen time that’s different and for now, we’ll take that as a win!



Fake It ‘Til You Make It and Other Fake News Tales

Beverley Hammond, CEO

Late in 2018, Republic President Kathy Murphy and I had an informal roundtable with two highly talented new-gen agency leaders, Megan Matthews, partner at Instinct Brand Equity based in the UK and Canada, and Erin Richards, founder of Toronto’s Hype PR. It was a broad-ranging discussion that centred around the state of one of the fastest growing forms of marketing - Influencer Marketing.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) defines an influencer as “a person who has a greater than average impact on others around them”.  In a few short years as more and more brands have oriented their promotional activities around such impactful people, those of us old enough to remember when # was actually a number sign have watched with fascination how a nascent PR tactic become a major industry – evolving from the time when it was about brands ‘earning’ endorsements with all of the requisite credibility attached, to brands paying for endorsements. From the time when getting paid to promote a brand was seen as selling out, to the era where it is all about making money from shilling products.

Make no mistake, these people are important revenue generators for brands. Take the fashion brands that work with 31-year-old Influencer @ariellecharnas, a former retail employee now powerhouse fashion influencer who had $4 million in sales in one day alone.

 Today, Influencer Marketing on Instagram alone is reportedly a $1 Billion industry. It’s no surprise then that there are a whole lot of people trying to get into the game and it looks like they will go to great lengths to get there. Fake followers – influencers using bots to jack up their follower numbers has been a problem for some time and an issue for brands who ultimately and literally pay for nothing.

As going from just being a popular social media user with a lot of followers to an honest-to-goodness “influencer” gets more competitive, the fabrication is spreading. Perhaps as part of their response to the fake follower problem, brands don't just look at follower numbers anymore.  Now, before they enlist influencers, brands want to know that beyond popularity and social media following, you can actually promote the brand. So, these days Influencer Wannabes have adopted a new strategy: Fake it ‘til you make it. Yup. They pretend they are being paid to promote a product when in fact they have no affiliation with the brand whatsoever.

First fake news, now fake…marketing? Just so much irony in all of that.

And in other real news about fake news, even fans of influencers are fabricating on behalf of their idols. Recently after a scathing commentary in the Wall Street Journal about YouTuber PewDiePie, his sycophants hacked the WSJ site, placing an apology ad from the Journal to the Influencer in an affiliated publication, which read the paper would “like to apologize to pewdiepie” and that he had been “misrepresented” by the authors of the piece.

Pew Die Pie (real name Felix Kjellberg) is currently the world’s most popular YouTuber  - with more than 77 million subscribers. But another YouTube channel, T-Series is vying for the coveted spot with similar subscriber numbers. So, a robust social media campaign in support of Pew has been ongoing for some months. This most recent hack is one in a list of less than ethical measures supporters have taken to support their man – “a person who has a greater than average impact on others around them”, indeed.

How do you manage your child's media consumption vs healthy activity? Why do you believe influencer marketing has become the giant it is today?
Send an email to zeitlines@republicstory.com and let's chat!