Public figures, influencers, celebrities and sports personalities have unprecedented resources available to cultivate their audiences. Many have been able to build powerful, meaningful relationships with fans and followers and inspire personal communities.
Yet the same forces that make this feasible have also complicated the marketplace for brands and their prospective ambassadors. Fanbases might be scattered or they might be clustered around individual social accounts. For all the advantages of multichannel communication, it can be difficult to speak in a single, compelling voice across fragmented media.
Matching talent with opportunities
The emergence of stars from a whole range of different settings, who appeal across platforms to different demographics, maximises the choices available. But it also changes the terms for those on both sides of a partnership. Agile, flexible solutions are essential.
Many of those on the talent side have entered what amounts to a gig economy. Brand partnerships, activations and ambassadorships represent a substantial portion of income and a resource that dependably links them to the right partner would prove invaluable.
Given the increasing complexity of the sector, and the sheer number of moving parts involved, achieving this in an intuitive way can also unlock unexpected value. Where ride-share apps like Uber have connected drivers and passengers, simply and safely, and Airbnb has allowed for new ways to book accommodation and experiences, the right tool for searching and selecting talent and matching them to the best available opportunities can change the game for good.
Unleashing the potential of talent
Let’s take sport as an example. The breadth of commercially valuable profiles continues to expand. Alongside the classic, iconic image of the athlete with mass appeal – those best served by traditional agency and sponsor models – come others with their own connections to explore.
Breakout stars in what might historically have been described as minority sports can pull together much bigger communities in the digital age. For Olympic athletes, the liberalisation of rules which placed limits on promotional activity for non-Olympic sponsors during Games-time has unleased pent-up potential. In the US, similarly, the NCAA’s landmark July 2021 decision to allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) rights has propelled a fast-changing endorsement market in college sports. Brands of all sizes are finding results with local heroes, social media naturals and the breakout stories of events like basketball’s March Madness.
Sport, of course, also loves to celebrate its past, and retired legends hold an ever more potent magnetism – with digital outlets giving them unbroken access to a faithful following, and always-on, always accessible archives of their exploits in easy reach.
Combine this with the explosion of individual profiles across the rest of popular culture, as upcoming online stars, specialists and niche talents join mainstream entertainers and personalities. This has given rise to plenty of options for making and monetising connections – from social platforms to direct-access services like Cameo.
But truly delivering on this commercial potential, however, demands a more holistic answer.
The talent marketplace
For brands and agencies, there are many elements to factor into any promotional activity: the availability of the talent, the nature of the opportunity, the region, the budget, the make-up of a consumer, and the ultimate intended purpose or desired outcome.
This was the problem Pickstar set out to address. What this new ecosystem requires is machine learning capabilities that can help businesses, fans and brands navigate the plethora of choices and select the best-fit talent, connecting them with ease, simplicity and at speed. At the same time, talent and talent managers need to be able to select the best opportunities available to them.
Our vision is to ignite meaningful moments with inspirational stars. The innovations we offer are made possible by proprietary technology and engineering: machine-learning tools that simplify clients’ requests and allow for improved productivity and results.
But what’s most important in this burgeoning field is that it is all about people, and developing a culture that encourages personal development and creativity, measuring our impact in how we help others discover their real potential. What we believe is that talent – wherever it comes from and wherever it is – deserves the right opportunity, right now.
Tom Scott is chief marketing officer at Pickstar and VLAST.