When Sophie Grégoire Trudeau wore two jackets by upstart Canadian designer Ellie Mae Waters during the recent state visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington, it proved the power of partnering with a true influencer compared to so-called influencers.
So says Lindsay Mattick, creative director and partner at Toronto PR firm Pomp & Circumstance, who notes that the media coverage her client received, revealed the power of “true influence” – something that is becoming a lost art in the recent trend toward brands paying people to “like” or endorse things.
Coverage of Grégoire Trudeau wearing the jackets appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Women’s Wear Daily, Elle Canada, Flare and a host of other print and broadcast media in Canada and abroad and thrust Waters and her Ellie Mae line into the international spotlight, Mattick says.
The 28-year-old Toronto designer has gone from an unknown, who had just launched her second collection, to being on an international fashion stage, and is getting calls from high-profile retailers and TV shows from around the world. Ellie Mae was Pomp & Circumstance’s second client.
Pomp & Circumstance asked Waters who would be the ideal person to fall in love with her line, and the answer was Grégoire Trudeau. “We took that on as a personal challenge for ourselves” and reached out to Grégoire Trudeau’s stylist.
PR is not always instant in terms of results, but in this case the instant fallout “was a dream come true for Ellie, a dream come true for us.”
The contrast with many of today’s supposed influencers does not go unnoticed by Mattick.
“In the era where we’re getting asked for $300 for one Instagram post by somebody who may or may not have earned their followers organically – they may have bought them – is that real influence?”
Mattick notes Grégoire Trudeau wore the line “not because she’s paid to, but because she genuinely believes in it and supports it.”
By comparison, an influencer asked to be given a free Ellie Mae jacket, a front- row seat at her recent Toronto Fashion Week show and payment to write about wearing the jacket. “To me, the contrast was just remarkable.”
She says “it’s a little bit frightening what’s going on” and the event with Grégoire Trudeau was a good reminder of how true influence can come about.
Mattick sees the paid influencer trend growing and notes a number of PR firms have recently started to rep influencers.
But, many people in the marketing world who are seeing the trend towards paying influencers “are asking ourselves questions and I think everyone is wondering when are consumers going to start to question things as well?”