The Top Influencer Marketing Execs at Brands: Bumble, Chipotle, Pacsun

  • In our second annual list, Insider is spotlighting the top 16 influencer-marketing execs at brands.
  • They’ve led impactful and innovative campaigns for brands like Bumble, Pacsun, and Amazon’s The Drop. 
  • They work with creators on several platforms, with many recognizing the power of short-form video.

Even in the turbulent economy of the past few months, marketers haven’t stopped spending on influencers. Influencer marketing spending is projected to grow an estimated 12% to $4 billion in 2022.

“When the economy is booming, brands spend money to capitalize on the climate, and influencer marketing sees an upswing,” said Mike Mikho, chief marketing officer of the ad agency Laundry Service. “In an economic downturn, influencers become an efficiency play — you get content, distribution, and a valuable co-sign on your product through a single investment.”

As the creator economy matures, brands have also begun building in-house teams to create influencer campaigns and taken a more data-driven approach to measuring their impact.

Behind the most successful influencer marketing are the execs who are executing these campaigns.

They include Bumble director of talent and influencer Christina Hardy, who worked on a campaign to promote 50 collegiate women athletes in honor of the 50th anniversary of legislation prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education, and Amazon’s The Drop’s Merryck Tann-Dickerson, who recently joined as head of talent partnerships from Target and already launched several designer collaborations with key influencers.

What a successful influencer marketing campaign looks like

As partnerships between brands and creators become mainstream, marketers are learning what makes a successful campaign.

Marketers, managers, and creators agree that the best campaigns are the ones that don’t feel forced. The rise of TikTok, which has popularized content that is not necessarily polished or staged, heightens the need for partnerships that appear genuine.

“I think [a successful campaign] needs to be very real and raw and organic,” said Tyler MacDonald, who leads Pacsun’s influencer-marketing. “The connection between the influencer and the brand needs to really be there, because Gen Z in particular is very smart. They can tell when an influencer is coming on to a brand for a paycheck versus because they really love and believe in the brand.”

(Ironically, one of Pacsun’s current influencers of choice is virtual influencer Miquela, an AI-generated character that MacDonald said ties in with Pacsun’s interest in the metaverse and web3.)

It’s also important to approach sponsorship deals as true partnerships, industry insiders said.

Molly Tracy, founder of talent management firm Vrai, said the top-performing campaigns her clients work on are the ones where they were free to speak to their audience on their own terms.

“Creative freedom is so important,” Tracy said. “We’ve just found that the campaigns that are a little bit too rigid in terms of key messaging or what the content needs to look like just haven’t performed as well, because you’re asking the creator to step out of their own wheelhouse.”

In its second annual list, Insider is recognizing 16 influencer marketing execs at brands who have built some of the most creative and impactful campaigns over the past year.

For this list, we relied on a mix of our own reporting, nominations from readers, and industry experts. We chose people who are building the most successful partnerships with influencers across social media; planning the most creative campaigns; and impacting the influencer space broadly. Follow figures below are accurate as of Sept. 8, 2022.

The influencer marketing executives are listed in alphabetical order by brand below:

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Post Author: Adam Jacob

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