Get to Know The Agency That Is Disrupting Advertising By Creating Influencers

June
14, 2021

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When @justaconstructionguy took off on Instagram, the account really took off. The story goes that a teenage girl (@barbzlovescarbs on Twitter) posted a screenshot of her father's new Instagram account in April 2019, claiming he had become an "influencer" to prove to her that he can. It rose from 75 followers to over 400,000 in five days because it was fun to tell the story behind it. The Instagram account was also clever.

Then the internet investigative hacks got their hands on it claiming it was a fake influencer founded by a coffee company and its agency. The whole thing was rigged. Followers of the account had been deceived.

Turns out they didn't have it.

Omar, the real construction worker in the account, who satirically made fun of the influencer culture with "sponsored" content from a coffee company? He's still the star of the account, which continues to produce engaging content and has close to 415,000 followers. Omar expanded to TikTok last year. He has over 220,000 followers there.

He's still a real build type.

Cuvee Coffee supported the start of the project, but broke off after a while. Omar and the agency that built the account at Cuvee are pursuing the idea that a construction worker who digs coffee can be an influencer.

Left to right: Daniel Stone, Louis Montemayor and George Ellis of Bandolier Media.

Photo credit: Bandolier Media

The agency was Bandolier Media. The Austin, Texas-based company has exactly four full-time employees. It has won consecutive regional recognition at the AdAge Small Agency of the Year Awards. And it is perhaps the most groundbreaking advertising agency in America.

Similarly, the answer to influencer marketing's biggest question lies in understanding channels of influence

Social media are the media

You will not gain recognition as an AdAge advertising agency without substance in your work. The publication's application for the publication's Small Agency of the Year Award contains many questions about customers, creative approach, growth, and revenue. Bandolier has chops. But they're not traditional ad agency chops.

“We never planned to set up an agency,” says owner Daniel Stone. "We just wanted to create cool things."

Lou Montemayor was the original co-owner and the other half of Stone's "We". The couple worked for the same publisher from 2010 to 2013. Stone noticed Montemayor's talent for generating interesting ideas for implementation on social media when he proposed concepts to the company's management. You didn't quite get it.

But Stein did. He smuggled Montemayor's portfolio of ideas out of the company, knowing that one day they would have the chance to put some of the ideas into practice. A few years later they were working with musician Thom Shepherd on a silly song called "Beer Pong Anthem". Stone reached out to people who ran beer pong tournaments across the country and asked them to play it at the events and then post it on their social media pages.

Meanwhile, Montemayor was creating social media content to add to the song's momentum on Twitter, Instagram, and a Facebook page. "I knew right away that brands would be interested in someone setting up and doing this for them," said Stone.

And here the disturbance began. The couple quit their job in 2015 and started Bandolier Media. That said, the two started presenting social media ideas to their clients.

Not far from their trip, Stone's love of dad jokes helped start Classic Dad, a satire-filled blog and new t-shirt shop. A concept of dad as a "lawn whisperer" evolved into an original video series presented by Scott’s Lawn Care. Now it's into the fifth season.

Then there is Duck Tape Man, whose borderline orgasmic response to the sound of tape peeling off the roll is hilarious enough to get people to click "share" on a commercial.

"The main reason we believe we are social is because our work relies on connecting with audiences," says George Ellis, who joined Bandolier in 2018 as co-owner and creative director for TV advertising or other more traditional methods, it is more critical in the social area because people react and get involved. "

There are many social media agencies out there, but not many advertising agencies that are leaders in social media thinking. This is what sets Bandolier apart. It creates engaging content on social media channels that drive engagement and awareness of the brands they work with. The creative is strong enough that people want to talk about it and share it.

"That's what we want," explains Ellis. “The last thing we want for a client is to publish a piece of work that pretends to have all the answers or serves as a one-way communication. We want our brands to interact with people and stimulate conversation. In this way, we all learn something or can steer the dialogue in a different direction that we would never have planned if we had just created a classic product spot or an article about product benefits. "

A lean, mean, content machine

Bandoliers were originally two guys who enjoyed creating content. In many ways it still is. Ellis joined the company after holding positions at larger agencies such as Leo Burnett and Razorfish. A fourth employee, Kelsey Hickok, manages creative content across the customer portfolio.

"I should delegate and bring more people," admits Stone. “But we had to get lean with Covid and do everything. I cleaned the office, but I loved doing it. That is part of entrepreneurship. "

Bandolier uses four to five subcontractors and places freelancers if necessary. The actors in most of the videos? “Most of them are my neighbors,” laughs Stone.

"We're really happy and we're happy with each other, working together," he adds. "We like to work because we like our work."

Stone and Montemayor laugh at the fact that everything about starting the company was just plain fun. From ordering checks and business cards to renting an office. In fact, their excitement was so contagious when they visited Nada Moo! Ice Cream's facility looking for office space, CEO Daniel Nicholson hired it to run his company's social media.

And while the success continues, Stone warns that he is not on the easy road. "I still drive a shitty 2014 Subaru," he said. “It's still a cheek. But I am happy and proud of my work. "

Unlike most advertising agencies, Bandolier's growth has been focused on what they're good at, and not just on each new project. “We're pretty good at RFPs, and we tell the client, 'Look, we're probably the worst person to hire,'” explains Stone. “'But we like what you do and we have a great vision. Can we share the vision we have for this project with you? ""

Montemayor explained that sticking to what they know and who they are may make them seem a little out of place, but that's a welcome disruption in the agency world. “With our early customers, we'd meet the owner, go out, have a beer, and talk about the crazy things we'd come up with,” he says. “Three years, four years later, and we meet Shell Oil there – big, high-profile people – and we're the same. We won't try to fit the part. We'll just be ourselves. That was really good for us. People find it refreshing. "

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A unique influence on the influence

The case study with @justaconstructionguy is a more casual example of the refreshing approach that Bandolier brings to the table. Stone and Montemayor came up with the idea with Mike McKim, owner of Cuvee Coffee, who was delighted to see workers from local construction sites having coffee on their lunch breaks. The coexistence of gray workers who like craftsmanship but not presumptuous, coffee struck a nerve.

"Why not also compare what it means to be an influencer?" Said Montemayor.

While Omar (yes, that's his real name) had the conversation with his daughter and bragged about being an influencer now, Bandolier turned the conversation into the now famous tweet at a brilliant moment.

"We needed something to explain why the account was there," explained Montemayor. The move was a stroke of genius as it created a reason for people to share the account, which resulted in its massive growth.

And in case you're wondering, @justaconstructionguy's Instagram account shows a 95% effectiveness rate when running through influencer marketing platform Julius' account health analysis. The followers and engagement are real.

Omar is real and all the content is what he has to say, but Bandolier drives the ship and uses him both in the role of the model and actor and as a support to his own directing the project.

It turns out that Bandolier shows that there are more ways to create influence than to find someone who already has it. Not only can you create influence, you can create influencers. The difference is in approaching the channel of influence like a creative palette.

“There's nothing wrong with hiring an influencer. We do it for our customers all the time, ”said Ellis. “But if you lock yourself into that thinking, it basically blocks a whole path of creativity. To create something new on social media, you sometimes have to start at the very beginning: with a new personality or trait. "

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