Freedom through syndication

We know the value of syndicated thinking and working between agencies, between influencer marketing, creative agencies, PR firms and paid media. But there is another aspect to syndication that is especially relevant to influencer marketing:
The syndication between influencer marketing agency, the brand and the influencer.

At R-Squared, we put this collaboration to the front of everything we do. It is what guides our strategic thinking, and it is what sets us apart – because it all comes from a belief in freedom.

There are many agencies who keep a ‘book’ of influencers, people they work with on a regular basis, people they know they can call and direct to add their campaign to the influencer’s feed.

Our thinking is a far more innovative and, together with other true influencer marketing experts, is fast becoming the way forward for this industry: find the influencer that fits the brand and message, not fit the brand to the influencer.

We do not keep a ‘book’ of influencers. Our clients have faith in us and give us the freedom to search out the influencer that will best suit the campaign. Which means we can find that person or persons who actually have an interest in our campaign, who have knowledge of our subject and who believe in what they are telling their audience. It tends to lead to a far more honest and resonant campaign.

Because added to finding the perfect fit is the giving of freedom. Our influencers have the freedom to be themselves, to speak as themselves. By finding the influencers in their own environments, in their own countries, we engage with the audience in their own language, their own style and their own culture. Influence is all about resonance, about believability and authenticity which you only achieve if your influencer is being open and honest – and having the freedom to add your message to their existing voice.

Giving someone a script makes them an actor. Giving someone the freedom to be themselves makes them an influencer.

This is not to say we let them loose like a kid in a candy store. Our expertise comes in the careful management of the campaign. We create a framework that combines the brief, the strategy and the influencer. They know the goals. They know the product. They know the audience. And they know the environment, including all local and international regulations and nuances. Everything is set up with an almost scientific attention to detail.

And then we give them their freedom.

This approach is only possible through syndication, through collaboration and trust between every person involved from the influencer to the agencies to the brand. By having the freedom to work with the best of the best we are able to offer you, the brand, the best. The best influencer, backed by the best influencer marketers, supporting the best creative, social media, PR and paid media agencies.

To bring you the best, most resonant marketing campaigns for local and global audiences.

We call it authenticity. And it will make a huge difference to your campaign.

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

One Voice Can Make A Difference

It’s what makes putting paid media behind your influencer marketing such a great idea. You get the power and reach of paid media, the vast audiences with their volume of impressions but with a select voice giving you true authenticity and bringing focus to your campaign.

Think of it as an orchestra. Paid media bring in the violins and flutes, the bassoons and clarinets, woodwind, strings, brass, percussion – all combined to give us a classical feeling of grandeur. Add in a perfect voice, a pure soloist rising from the background to emphasise, to counterpoint, to add goose-bumps that run along your arms, and you have a nuanced and impactful campaign that resonates with its audience.

At R-Squared, we are leading the move to integrate experts from every field into one powerful orchestra that gets brands the maximum reach and the maximum impact. We believe that syndicated partnerships between local and global experts, from big agencies to small boutique shops, is the way forward for the industry.

Paid media and influencer marketing – our particular area of expertise – is a case in point.

Paid media offers us a channel that reaches millions – billions – of people. The potential within that audience is massive, but the dangers of these unsolicited impressions is that once the user scrolls past, the message may be diluted by other unsolicited messages in a feed.

For influencer marketing, the opposite is often true. Here we have a specific audience that are looking to a specific influencer for views and opinions. But it is a much smaller audience.

Syndicating these two channels brings an entirely new dynamic to the partnership. Now we have the huge reach of paid media enhanced with the one-on-one focus of influencer marketing. Which leads to that audience engaging more with the paid media, and the paid media audience being led to an authentic and resonant opinion leader for validation. And this builds and builds and builds to a crescendo for brands.

Add in a maestro conductor, an expert in collaborative thinking and execution, and you are practically guaranteed a virtuoso performance.
This collaborative thinking, not just between paid media and influencer marketing but between any teams working on a brand’s image and message from creative agencies to social media to paid media to production to editing and everything in between, is how we take individual skills and turn them into a symphonic, harmonious whole that raises a brand beyond the ordinary.

While the R-Squared expertise is in the influencer marketing sector, our knowledge, skill and experience, locally and internationally, is helping this change from silo thinking to expert syndication. Our partnerships with other experts in the marketing world – from paid media, to PR firms, to big agencies and boutique specialists – and our on-the-ground teams have the resources and expertise to hand-pick the voices you need to add to your creative campaigns and your paid media and make you stand out.

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

The Perils of Isolation for Brands

The traditional marketing model has undergone a dramatic shake-up that began before this world of isolation and quarantine. Old-school ad agencies have found themselves stretched thin through a fast-growing and technology-led hunger for new content and new ways of serving that content.

This was the birth of specialist digital agencies and media houses, of production studios set up to develop content for a new generation that lived with technology in their pockets and with instant access to the world and to the world’s views and opinions.

It also led to a growing sense of compartmentalised thinking and agencies working in silos. This sense of isolation often worked against the brand’s interests. Where you had a great idea for a campaign, the execution often seemed to lack that spark that elevated it into something extraordinary. It’s a natural progression when it comes to tech-led innovation. The innovators bring it to market. The early adopters test it out and work through issues. It becomes more accessible, recognised and accepted. And then gains traction with a wider audience.

This where you need proper syndication. As experts in influencer marketing, R-Squared are well aware of how the industry is changing to incorporate collaboration to a much greater extent.

Our dealings with the big creative agencies and the teams of smaller experts have given us a unique insight into how things have been operating and how they need to change. We are finding, more and more, that our value goes beyond the influencer marketer role and has become an integral part of expert syndication leaders. With the creative agencies creating content, the production houses producing content and the paid media agencies seeding content, we saw the social media and influencer marketers being led by that content in a top-down approach. Our model, that we and other industry experts are showing should be the industry standard, is to use the content to create unique pieces that come from unique influencers to bolster and emphasise that content.

It’s an approach that has also led to us becoming experts in the coordination and collaboration between agencies to truly amplify a brand and message.

By syndicating our thinking and output, by collaborating with best of breed from an agency creative to a PR firm to a digital studio to a paid media agency to our own specialisation of influencer marketing – and then coordinating every aspect to work seamlessly together and build on a campaign rather than plug into a campaign – we are able to create something truly remarkable, impactful and memorable.

Syndication is how the modern world will move forward. In marketing, in business, in politics and human interaction. Isolationism and silo-thinking are shown to be ineffective at best and detrimental at worst. And it will take the experts to prove to the world that this unifying of talents and specialisations will lead to a whole, and to outcomes, that are far greater than the sum of their parts.

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

Standard Terms: Influencer Marketing Services

  1. Campaign Strategy
    1. You may request Services in writing in respect of a particular campaign that you wish to run (Campaign). If we are able and prepared to provide Services in respect of that Campaign, we will propose a written strategy for the Campaign, which includes:
      1. details of the Campaign and the Services required;
      2. proposed Campaign dates;
      3. number of influencers and the criteria which they must meet;
      4. fees;
      5. analytics and reports required; and
      6. any other information relevant to the Campaign (Campaign Strategy).
    2. You must approve each Campaign Strategy in writing. We will cooperate in good faith to finalise any reasonable changes requested by you before approval. Each approved Campaign Strategy, together with these terms, forms a separate agreement between you and us for the Services for the applicable Campaign.
    3. Changes to an approved Campaign Strategy proposed by you or us must be agreed in writing.
  2. Cancellation
    1. You may cancel the Campaign on 14 days-notice to us. Any amounts that have been pre-paid for service will be refunded, except where agreed services have already been rendered. You will reimburse us for any cost incurred in preparation for the Campaign except where the cancellation is a direct or indirect result of a breach by us.
    2. We may cancel our Services in respect of a Campaign on [14] days’ notice to you. Any amounts paid for Services not yet received will be refunded (on a pro-rata basis if applicable).
  3. Influencer selection and engagement
    1. Once a Campaign Strategy is approved, we will identify social media influencers which meet your criteria. We will submit the list of proposed influencers for your approval. Note that it may not be possible for each influencer to meet all of your criteria. However, we will use our best endeavours to provide you with a list of influencers which meet your criteria as a group. If you are not satisfied with the proposed influencers on reasonable grounds, we will identify alternatives.
    2. Once the list of influencers is approved, we will create for your approval:
      1. a specific brief for each influencer; and
      2. a publishing calendar for the Campaign. We will cooperate in good faith to finalise any reasonable changes requested by you before approval.
      3. The list of influencers, brief for each influencer and publishing calendar form part of the agreed Campaign Strategy on approval by you.
      4. We will contract with each influencer for purposes of the Campaign, based on the brief and publishing calendar approved by you.
      5. There may be circumstances which require changes to the influencer list, briefs or publishing calendar in the interests of the Campaign. We will liaise with you as and when necessary. Changes must be effected in terms of clause 1.3
  4. Campaign materials and content
    1. We do not create content for Campaigns unless otherwise agreed in writing.
    2. All materials and content created by our influencers for purposes of a Campaign will be validated by us before publication against the requirements of the influencers’ brief as approved by you. We will contractually require influencers to ensure that:
      1. materials and content created or provided by them for purposes of the Campaign complies with all applicable laws and is not:
        1. harmful or inappropriate in respect of you, us, our influencers and our other clients;
        2. infringing of any rights of third parties, including intellectual property rights and privacy rights; or
        3. defamatory, racist, political in nature, discriminatory, obscene, pornographic or abusive;
      2. they have all permissions necessary to enable them, us and you to use all materials and content created or provided by them for purposes of the Campaign; and
      3. every post or publication includes a clear indication that it is an incentivized, sponsored or advertising post or publication.
    3. You may request the publication of an apology in relation to any post or publication by an influencer which contravenes the requirements of clause 4.2 or the influencer’s brief. We will contractually require the influencer to do so.
    4. Any materials and content to be supplied by you for purposes of the Campaign must be provided to us for inclusion in the influencers’ briefs created in terms of clause 3.2(1). You must ensure that these materials and content meet the same requirements as those described in clause 4.2.
    5. You are responsible for compliance with any legal, regulatory or other requirements in relation to a Campaign and must provide us with all relevant information in this regard for inclusion in the Campaign Strategy and (where applicable) influencers’ briefs.
    6. We are not responsible for any:
      1. posts or publications made by influencers, unless we negligently failed to communicate the agreed brief to them;
      2. materials or content supplied by you; or
      3. non-compliance with any legal, regulatory or other requirements, unless those requirements were communicated to us for inclusion in the brief and we failed to communicate them to the influencers.
    7. We will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by you in connection with the circumstances described in clause 4.6 and you indemnify us against any claims by third parties in this regard.
  5. Campaign implementation and reporting
    1. On completion of the Campaign, we will provide you with a report reflecting the influencers’ results, consolidated for the Campaign.
    2. Reports may take up to 40 days from the end of the Campaign to be issued to capture the entire engagement lifecycle that can be up to 30 days. All reports will be sent to you by email at the email address you provide.
    3. Reports will be accurate based on the data available to us. All data is gathered from social media platforms and other third party sources and we are not responsible for the quality or accuracy of this data. We are therefore also not responsible for any inaccuracies in reports as a result of inaccuracies in the source data and will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by you or a third party in this regard. If you find that any data is inaccurate or incomplete, please let us know and we will endeavour to correct the data manually.
  6. Payment
    1. You will pay us the fees stated agreed in a Campaign Strategy at the agreed intervals. All fees are exclusive of value-added tax, which is payable by you.
    2. You must reimburse us for our influencers’ reasonable travel and accommodation expenses incurred in the provision of the Services, provided that they have been approved by you in writing in advance (including the amount of each expense).
    3. All fee payments and reimbursements will be made into the following bank account or another account nominated by us in writing:
      • Bank: FNB
      • Branch: 250655
      • Account holder: R-Squared Digital South Africa (Pty) Ltd
      • Account number: 62651892202
    4. We may charge interest on any amounts outstanding from the due date until the date of payment, at the prime rate quoted by FNB plus 2% or the maximum rate allowed by law (if lower).
  7. Penalties: If our influencers fail to meet any deadlines that are material to the campaign, you may deduct the following amounts from the fees due to us in respect of those influencers in clause 5:
    1. up to 15% of the fee for a task which is completed within 1 to 24 hours after the deadline;
    2. up to 30% of the fee for a task which is completed within 24 to 48 hours after the deadline; and
    3. up to 50% of the fee for a task which is not completed within 48 hours after the deadline provided that the failure is not a result of your or your agents’ acts or omissions or a breach of this agreement.
  8. Intellectual property
    1. You and we (and our respective licensors) retain our respective pre-existing intellectual property rights.
    2. All content, and the intellectual property rights relating to it, provided to us by you for purposes of the Campaign is owned by you or your licensors. We may use this content for purposes of the Campaign in accordance with this agreement and permit our influencers to do the same.
    3. Any content, and the intellectual property rights relating to it, created by our influencers in the provision of the Services is owned by our influencers but we will procure for you a limited, revocable, perpetual and non-exclusive license to use such content for your business and commercial purposes, including publishing such content in any forum for marketing purposes.
  9. Non-solicitation: For two years following termination of this Agreement, you may not directly or indirectly approach our employees or influencers or request services similar to the Services, from our employees or influencers, independently of us.
  10. Warranties: Each party warrants that it is authorised to conclude and to perform its obligations in terms of this Agreement. The parties acknowledge that each of them concludes this Agreement in reliance upon the warranties of the other. This warranty survives termination of the balance of this Agreement for as long as necessary to give it effect.
  11. Breach and termination
    1. Either party may terminate this agreement with immediate effect on written notice to the other party if the other party:
      1. fails to remedy a material breach of this agreement within 7 days of written notice to do so, or commits a material breach of this agreement which cannot be remedied;
      2. is, other than for the purposes of reconstruction or amalgamation, placed under voluntary or compulsory sequestration, winding-up, judicial management, business rescue or the equivalent of any of these in any jurisdiction or commits an act of insolvency as defined in the Insolvency Act, ;
    2. Any termination is without prejudice to any right or remedy that either party may have which accrued before the date of termination.
    3. Clauses 4.4, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 15 survive termination of this agreement.
  12. Liability
    1. Neither you nor us will be liable for any indirect or consequential loss or damage in connection with this agreement, save for loss or damage arising from fraud or willful misconduct.
    2. The total liability of you and us respectively for any direct loss or damage arising out of or in connection with this agreement is limited to the total amount paid by you under this agreement.
  13. Confidentiality
    1. All confidential information disclosed by one party to the other party in connection with this agreement may not be disclosed by the receiving party to any third party unless stated in this agreement, required by law or permitted in writing by the disclosing party, or used for any purpose other than in connection with this agreement. For purposes of this agreement confidential information means all information confidential to the disclosing party including, to the extent that it is not freely and publicly available, commercial, financial, legal, technical, scientific and research information, trade secrets, passwords, or other secret codes, information disclosed with the permission of third parties in which the third parties have confidentiality rights, information legally protected from disclosure, any information the unauthorised disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to cause harm or risk to the disclosing party and any other information designated by the disclosing party as confidential or which is manifestly confidential.
    2. The receiving party must use the disclosing party’s confidential information in a way that prevents any unauthorised access to it. Where information has been disclosed contrary to this agreement, the receiving party must immediately inform the disclosing party, cooperate with the disclosing party and take any steps required of the disclosing party to retrieve the confidential information and prevent further unauthorised disclosure.
    3. On the disclosing party’s request, the receiving party must return or destroy all confidential information other than documents prepared by the receiving party, provided that where required by law, the receiving party may retain one copy of the confidential information for the required period.
  14. Personal information
    1. Personal information and processing have the meanings given to them in the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013.
    2. If we process any personal information in your behalf for purposes of this agreement, we will:
      1. do so only with your knowledge or authorisation and not disclose the personal information, unless required by law or in the performance of our duties under this agreement;
      2. take reasonable and appropriate technical and organisational security measures to protect the personal information against loss, damage, unauthorised destruction and unlawful access or processing; and
      3. immediately notify you if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the personal information has been accessed or acquired by any unauthorised person.
    3. You must ensure that you are legally permitted to disclose any personal information you provide to us. You will indemnify us and our agents and influencers against, and we, our agents and influencers will not be liable for, any loss or damage suffered as a result of you not being legally permitted to disclose personal information to us.
  15. General
    1. In this Agreement, the words “including” and “in particular” are without limitation and if there is any inconsistency between the body of this agreement and an annexure, the body of this agreement takes precedence.
    2. This agreement does not constitute a partnership, joint venture, employment or agency relationship between the parties or entitle or authorise either party to incur liability on behalf of the other.
    3. This agreement is the whole agreement between the parties in regard to its subject matter and supersedes any prior agreements, written or verbal. No agreement varying, adding to, deleting from or cancelling this agreement will be effective unless in writing and signed by both parties.
    4. Any illegal or unenforceable provision of this agreement may be severed and the remaining provisions continue in force.
    5. No indulgence by either party to the other party, or failure strictly to enforce the terms of this agreement, will be interpreted as a waiver or be capable of founding an estoppel.
    6. R-Squared may subcontract any of its obligations under this Agreement, including to its influencers.
    7. The Client may not assign this Agreement (in whole or in part) without R-Squared’s prior written consent. R-Squared may assign this Agreement (in whole or in part) without the Client’s consent. The Client will be notified of such an assignment.
    8. This Agreement is governed by South African law. In the event of any dispute between the parties in connection with this Agreement, each must appoint a representative with settlement authority to meet within ten days of declaration of the dispute. Only if the parties’ representatives are unable to resolve the dispute, either party may institute action in a court having jurisdiction. The parties unconditionally consent and submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division, Cape Town in regard to all matters arising from this Agreement. Nothing in this paragraph 15.8 prevents either party from seeking an order of urgent relief from a court of competent jurisdiction.
    9. This agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which will be an original and which together constitute the same agreement.
    10. We will deliver notices or documents in connection with legal proceedings to you at the physical or email addresses at the top of this agreement unless you notify us otherwise in writing. You should deliver notices or documents in connection with legal proceedings to us at the following addresses unless we notify you otherwise:
      • Physical address: R-Squared Digital South Africa (Pty) Ltd
      • Suite 401 (4th Floor)
      • 79 Roeland Street
      • 7925 Cape Town
      • Email address:
      • Marked for attention of: Stephane Rogovsky

Success comes from an accurate focus on influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful channels of communication for any marketer – if it is done properly.

There are tons of horror stories out there, from celebrities to beauty queens to sports stars, of social media going absolutely postal over a tweet or post that is either not appropriate for the audience or racist / sexist / homophobic / just plain wrong.

So how do you filter who gets to be the face of your brand or the mouthpiece for your message?

You speak to experts.

Not everyone with access to a Twitter feed or Instagram account knows what they’re doing. And not every influencer marketing ‘professional’ understands the importance of getting the right person for the right job and the right audience. Many agencies have a set book of influencers with whom they have relationships, and they try to force fit these influencers into their campaigns. With disastrous results.

Context is king in influencer marketing. The right person, at the right time, for the right client, with the right message.

For example, would you believe a famous chef if they were giving you beauty advice? Chances are, probably not. Stick to your recipe, Gordon!

BUT, what if it was Nigella Lawson giving skincare advice? A beautiful, powerful, successful woman who spends her days in a hot, humid, smoky, steamy commercial kitchen?

Different story.

Successful influencer marketing needs to focus on getting the mix right. You need an agency that has the ability, and the influence, to attract influencers from anywhere in the world. You need an agency that knows that a fitness product needs an athlete for maximum exposure, but also has the intelligence to realise that a busy female executive can also appeal to office workers looking for exercise equipment and tips. And can open up an entirely unexpected direction and market.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ methodology to creating a successful influencer marketing campaign. It needs proper thought, careful strategies, proper budgeting and expert management.

And it starts at the beginning. From the strategy stage, influencer marketing should form a part of any campaign. It is a top down approach that helps to eliminate any risks of bias or conflict of interest and brings the perfect person or people into your campaign to give an authentic voice in a world that is on the hunt for falsity and deception.

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

Is influencer marketing a new phenomenon?

In 1890, Nancy Green became the face of “Aunt Jemima”. She was hired by RT Davis Milling to be the face of their pancake mix. She was a pioneer in influencer marketing (she was the first black female model and activist, and she was the first face of a brand), influencing a generation of readymade pancake mix buyers.

In 1905, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (American silent movie actor) endorsed Murad, Turkish cigarettes. This paved the way for celebrity endorsements.

Before 1931, Santa Claus was depicted as a gaunt man, an evil-looking elf, alternately wore a bishop’s robe and a Norse huntsman’s animal skin. Artist Haddon Sundblom painted the Santa we know today, drinking a bottle of Coca Cola. This was the first time a fictional character became the face of a brand.

MTV began as a 24-hour platform for music videos and debuted 1 August 1981. The network struggled in its early years, playing clips repetitively, until the launch of the “I want my MTV” campaign. MTV’s Les Garland convinced his friend Mick Jagger to shout the line into the camera. The campaign steamrolled from there with artists like David Bowie and Pete Townshend jumping on board, causing a significant rise in cable tv subscriptions.

The rise of social media created a platform for a new category of influencers to arise, and for all categories, celebrities and other, to share in their own way online, splitting the market. Before, the influencer was in a tv ad campaign (highly scripted) or on a billboard, versus influencer marketing where influencers share personal messages in their own voice.

We recently discussed the rise of virtual influencers and avatars, and we questioned their relatability and whether virtual influencers become a real and significant part of the marketing landscape in the future. What do you think?

Michelle Marais, Digital Marketing Manager

Michelle Marais is the Digital Marketing Manager at R-Squared, a leading influencer marketing agency partnering with some of the largest brands in South Africa and internationally. Our team focuses on out of the box solutions for authenticity in influencer marketing.