The Drum Awards for Marketing - Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Marketing Luxury Influencer Marketing

Is there a role for influencers in luxury brand marketing?

By Rebecca Levy | Editorial Assistant



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

November 22, 2017 | 14 min read

As we know, exclusivity is everything in the luxury sector. Guest editor of The Drum Network's luxury issue, Emma Fisher, asked our experts whether influencers are a help or a hindrance to luxury brands.

Are influencers a help or a hindrance to luxury brands?

Are influencers a help or a hindrance to luxury brands?

Here's what they had to say:

Sammy Mansourpour, managing director, Agency UK

It is more than likely that influencers will end up becoming the sole source of product placement for luxury brands moving forward. It’s not a far cry from the celeb endorsement they already seek. All luxury brands serve a strategy based on exclusivity and offering VIP access to their luxury brand is how they shroud it in aspiration and showcase it to the world. If we look at luxury brands like Aston Martin, Rolex and Revlon, they are each growing their brands through influencer communities. And to do it they are manufacturing limited edition ‘halo’ products and offering them exclusively to key influencers. This is a promotional tactic car brands have long been versed in.

Guy Levine, chief executive officer, Return

I believe there is definitely a place for influencers in the luxury market. People who are aspirational will always look up to luxury brands, wanting the lifestyle they perceive to be associated with the product. People who are in the luxury bracket will always look for inspiration from others in their bracket and people who are above luxury will always look for one-upmanship. Therefore, the question isn’t if an influencer strategy is applicable in the luxury market, it is which influencer would you need to pique the interest of the target marketing you are looking for: aspirers, inspirers or one-uppers?

Scott Rumsey, marketing executive, Click Consult

The luxury end of the market is growing fast regardless of the type of products on offer and brands want to jump on the back of the customers’ need for quality. Influencers are great at giving a product exposure and reputability, but I feel they are not needed in the luxury end of the market. Here the products and brands speak for themselves. Look at a brand like M&S. Sure, it uses celebrities in its festive adverts, but for the majority it just uses the products. The imagery tells you all you need to know.

Louise Williams, planner, Connect

Influencer marketing isn’t a new thing, but what we class as ‘an influencer’ is. There are in fact lots of different types of influencer. Some have been used for decades (celebs, experts, media/publications) and some are newer (bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers). It’s undeniable, consumers are now more than ever in control of how they interact with brands. It’s not that they are interacting less, but they are showing a preference for the opinion of trusted individuals and influencers over hearing from the brands themselves. This is no different for luxury shoppers. If your audience are turning to trusted individuals to inspire them, you need to make sure they are talking about your brand.

Lauren Pearson, PR and marketing manager, Yard Digital

Absolutely, you only have to look at the views a designer handbag video can garner on YouTube to see there’s an engaged audience for luxury brands who collaborate with creative influencers. The key is to ensure you’ve done your research, selecting influencers that fit your brand and come across as authentic ambassadors. It’s not all about numbers – there’s no point picking someone with 500,000 followers if most of their content is centred around vintage shopping or snapping up high street bargains. The content will seem false and it’s not going to be reaching your target audience.

Oliver Bingham, consultant, The Clearing

It’s really easy for luxury products to just become props when influencers get their hands on them. I’m yet to come across a campaign or example that doesn’t cheapen the brand or product as a result. It doesn’t seem or feel natural. Of course, it depends on what we mean by luxury in the first place – it’s so subjective. But for real luxury, brands that deserve to be called luxury, it’s about privilege and being (or at least feeling) extraordinary. Putting your products in the hands of people that genuinely can’t afford them, even if they’re perfectly aligned to your target audience in every other thinkable way, is a dangerous game. I get why they do it – we know that the world is becoming more lifestyle orientated. Through our work with McLaren, we’ve learned that posting the most beautifully shot social content of sophisticated, elegant machines thundering around a steaming race track just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s about the whole experience – the life the drivers lead, the things they see, wear, eat and do. They live a life of luxury and people want to understand and absorb as much of it as possible. They want access to it because they can’t live it themselves. And that’s the problem – they can’t have it and it’s unlikely they ever will. Bentley’s link-up with Natasha Oakley is a really odd one. She ‘borrowed’ a Bentley Continental GT for a three week driving tour of Italy, yet the majority of her following will be 20-somethings with little-to-no possibility of ever owning a Bentley. Does it help the brand to maintain its premium perceptions and create desire? Maybe. But it also defaces its most valuable and defendable brand asset – its aura of exclusivity.

Billy Leonard, outreach executive, Harvest Digital

There’s definitely a role for influencers in luxury brand marketing, but those brands have to be extremely careful who they choose. There have been quite a few examples of influencers revealing traits that brands don’t want to be associated with lately – with PewDiePie being a classic example. Luxury brands are all about their image, so it’s important for them to heavily vet their choices and ensure the influencers they’re working with properly reflect the attributes and values that the brand reflects. Decisions cannot be made based entirely on aesthetics and follower numbers.

Rob Wilson, director of creative and strategy, RPM

There is a role for influencers in luxury brand marketing, however it is vital that they are the right ones. Influencers can play an important role in building connections between brand and audience. Whether it’s a celebrity or a vlogger, the key is that they are truly relevant to your audience. Brands need to move beyond targeting just based on demographics and connect with people through their passions. Talking to a group of people based on their interests will create a much deeper affinity between them and your brand and influencers can play an important part in this, building brand love and credibility in that community.

Kieran Bass, managing director, Kitty

To get the best results from influencer marketing you have to play to its strengths, many of which are at odds with the needs and requirements of luxury brands – but that’s not to say that they can’t be useful. Targeting over volume of message is paramount, which means that choosing an audience that aligns to a campaign’s needs is incredibly important. Focusing on the influencer alone is not enough. Protecting the brand’s values over the duration of the campaign and beyond should be a priority – vigorous scrutiny of the influencer, their background and previous posts is mandatory.

Nick Lidell, managing director, The Clearing

Yes. As long as it’s not

Bogdan Marinescu, digital PR specialist, Greenlight Digital

Despite an initial reluctance to engage in influencer marketing, luxury brands are now increasingly relying on social media heroes to connect with target audiences. We’re noticing a trend towards mid-tier or micro-influencer partnerships (a following in the six digits), partly to preserve the sense of exclusivity typical of luxury brands and partly due to a shift in focus on higher follower engagement rather than reach. Collaborations between high end brands and influencers should be partnerships rather than sponsorships, therefore the affinity with the brand, past brand partnerships, the type and quality of their content and level of engagement with their community are paramount.

Ryan McNamara, deputy managing director, Foxtrot Papa

Influencers can be one of the most powerful assets in a luxury brand’s toolkit, provided they match the brand’s values and have an honest approach that treats the audience with respect. As a rule, luxury customers don’t want to be marketed to – they want to see a brand or product as desirable and exclusive. The modern luxury audience is also moving away from the overt and showy into a world of elegant, educated luxury. They want to see for themselves why a product or brand is better crafted and therefore worth the investment and this is where influencers can really help. Craft matters, social responsibility matters, so influencers who communicate honestly about these topics are seen as reliable recommendations. Instagram, with its less commercial approach than Facebook and its focus on lifestyle and the fact it is image led, has driven a massive surge in this world, but it’s not the only platform that works.

Samantha Gabriel, strategist, Underscore

Influencer marketing has changed the marketing landscape and luxury brands such as fashion designers have implemented a strategy of inviting potential brand ambassadors to their shows to enhance their ‘must have’ credentials. Notable celebrity endorsements include Lily-Rose Depp for Chanel, which has helped to attune the Generation Z audience. Social media and technology has undoubtedly helped new entrants such as luxury cars to this relatively closed shop, with Lamborghini using athlete-turned-YouTube-star Jon Olsson to disrupt the market and help Roger Dubuis join the elite group of brands that dominate this global market.

Laura Collins, head of paid social, Merkle | Periscopix

In my opinion there’s a role for influencers in marketing the majority of brands, including luxury. Getting to a certain level of income doesn’t mean you take yourself off social media and lose the ability to be influenced. And if using celebrity influencers, luxury brands could even be a better fit. It doesn’t ring true when you see a millionaire promoting a budget or mid-range product, but a celebrity in a five-star hotel? Makes sense.

Lyndsay Snoddon, account manager, Caliber

The way consumers perceive luxury brands is changing. There will always be a place for heritage luxury brands, where exclusivity and opulence are key, but with a new wave of consumer buying behaviour comes a shift in what defines a luxury brand. The ubiquitous millennial market appears to be valuing brand names less and experiences and personal connection more. To stay relevant, all brands need to tell a story to connect with consumers. Influencer marketing and micro-influencer marketing, when done correctly, simply provides another channel through which to access the right demographic. Just be sure to align influencer with target market for effective campaigns.

Henry Moffett, senior account director, London Advertising

Followers of luxury brands on social media grew by over 27% in the last year, including over 936m engagement actions. Influencers are the protagonists of this online narrative and to dismiss them would be imprudent, whether you’re selling Rolex or Rolodex. Bigger is not always better though, as influencers should be selected for their relevance rather than number of followers. Apposite partnerships offer the credibility that will eventually lead to higher customer purchase intent. Get it wrong and it is painfully transparent, just as can be the case with traditional celebrity endorsements. We judiciously select the ‘fans’ of Mandarin Oriental based on their genuine love for the brand and then don’t pay them a penny. It doesn’t get much more credible than that.

Simona Ternblom, group creative director, Critical Mass

Luxury brands already depend on influencers, and with good reason. Influencers can grasp a Celine clutch in their fingertips while gliding into a Brooklyn bodega and make us believe that, one day, we might tote that clutch, too. We comment on their Instagram and sometimes they comment back. We get closer. The influencer’s luxurious lifestyle is a story we’re temped to imagine for ourselves. But here’s a bigger question: what next? When will younger consumers stop believing the story? And will luxury brands find a way to stay true to their DNA and deliver a more authentic reason to believe?

Lucy Gillions, co-founder, Jackanory

​In short, yes. From our experience as an experiential and live events agency, influencers have a huge part to play in luxury brand marketing. They provide the engagement and can help bridge the gap between the product and customer. It’s their storytelling that allows endorsements in an honest, authentic way. It is this that will then drive desirability and ensure that story is retold (and indeed ‘re-desired’). It’s critical that influencers are allowed the creative freedom to tell their personal story about their relationship with the product and only the bravest luxury brands are realising that they can retain exclusivity and drive desirability by using influencers in this way.

Nico Sarti, head of digital strategy, TVC Group

Absolutely yes. The luxury sector is now more focused on authenticity and provenance, moving away from the old view of a brand’s value solely deriving from status. Influencers will have a stronger role in helping organisations, especially within the luxury category, connect with the DNA of their products – the true story behind the brand. To succeed, brands should do three things:

  1. Partner with micro-influencers first. Individuals who are really passionate about products and their history.
  2. Build long-term programmes. It can take a long time to establish trust and consumers are bored of brief PR stints.
  3. Treat influencers as partners, not just another paid- for placement. The luxury sector needs a true voice highlighting the real value of a product beyond the glossy visuals.

This article was originally published in The Drum Network luxury special. You can get your hands on a copy here. To be featured in the next special focused on the charity sector, please contact

Marketing Luxury Influencer Marketing

Content by The Drum Network member:


We’re an independent brand communications agency voted Ad Agency of The Year 2019 and Brand Strategy Agency of the Year 2020 by Drum Recommends. Our services span brand strategy, identity, positioning and activation; creative development, media planning, social and PR including influencer outreach, community management, content strategy & planning and web design and development.

We’re interested in helping our clients drive demand and sales.

Our results speak for themselves -

Iconic confectionery brand

Moved their NPS score by 10 points over 9 months and moved their UK positioning from 4th to 2nd in category.

Swiss skin care and supplement brand

Achieved a 70% increase in Holland & Barrett retail sales by quarter 2 of our campaign and 30% increase in online sales quarter on quarter.

Dog food brand

83% increase in sales across 2020 with 155% increase in online sales.

Global juice and fruit brand

Increased their sales by 20% in Tesco and ASDA during the campaign period and increased their baseline score by 14%.

Heritage Kitchenware brand

Within 4 weeks of the campaign being live, we more than doubled sales on Ocado. Overall, the campaign activity drove a whopping 50% increase in sales. Increased online sales in 2020 by 82%

Bio-tech brand

We drove more than 60 orders in the first 3-months (exceeding production capabilities).

Global Clinical Research Organisation.

We have increased on-site conversions by 37% and reduced recruitment media spend on similar trials by 23%.

Find out more


Return was born in September 2008 with one simple aim: to maximise our clients' return on digital.

The digital world has seen extraordinary changes since then but one thing has stayed the same. Our passion for return. Everyone who works here, everything we do, is with one goal in mind, to leverage a greater return on investment for our clients.

From a one-man band we’ve grown to an award-winning, market-leading agency with a team of some of the brightest digital minds in Europe. But that’s enough about us, what’s more important is what we can do for you…

Find out more

Click Consult (Part of Ceuta Group)

Located in North West England, Click Consult is a multi award-winning digital and search marketing agency with a focus on organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC). Part of global consumer brand business Ceuta Group, we have a team of 70-plus specialists and a portfolio of more than 60 clients worldwide.

We provide a range of complementary services, including content marketing, social media and analytics, as well as offering training and consultation to support your in-house team or existing strategy. Our agency is a Google Premier Partner, and a Microsoft Advertising Select Agency Partner.

Click was named both SEO Agency of the Year and Organic Search (SEO) Team of the Year 2020; ranks within Econsultancy’s ‘Top 100 Digital Agencies’, and Prolific North’s ‘Top 50 Digital Agencies’. We’re also a Google Premier Partner, and a Microsoft Advertising Select Agency Partner.

Find out more

Connect Group

At Connect, we believe when you combine creativity and technology you start something. It’s what enables us to create award-winning work and generate outrageous results for our many blue chip clients. Famous names that include Bentley Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Birmingham Airport, Orion Media, Chiltern Railways, Tarmac and Goodyear Dunlop.

Based in the West Midlands and London, we specialise in creative technology marketing solutions. And that’s just for starters. To take advantage of the pragmatism, plain-speaking and cost-base of a regional agency; combined with the quality of thinking, advanced technology and proven experience found in a good London shop, start something with Connect today.

Services Provided Integrated Advertising and Design Digital Solutions Social Media Marketing Mobile Marketing Strategic Planning Insight Public Relations Scientific Thinking

Find out more


We are Yard, an independent, no-nonsense technical marketing agency. We’ll enable you to capture data with precision and accuracy and transform your digital marketing through data enabled search and content services.

Since launching in 2006, we've worked with businesses ranging from local start-ups and charities to leading national and international brands. 

We value expertise and work collaboratively to maximise results for our clients. We currently have established partnerships with companies recognised as among the best in the industry.

Find out more

The Clearing

The Clearing helps clients create clear defendable territory around their brands. We've been voted the UK's number 1 brand consultancy for two consecutive years by The Drum Network, and we're proud of our award-winning clients including McLaren, Lidl, HSBC, Ascot, Breast Cancer Now, Eurostar, One Feeds Two, Tom Kerridge and Fitness First.\

We recently created Wild Cards with The School of Life, a box of 100 killer questions to help you understand your brand better, launching it with a series of panels including Google, Ocado, Ascot and McLaren. Now we've turned 25 of the questions into a book, pairing 25 questions with 25 brand leaders from the world's most interesting businesses. One chapter, one question. One point of view to help you solve your biggest business challenges, with anecdotes and anarchic strategies from brands including Google, V&A, Comic Relief, Ascot and Gap. The result is 'Wild Thinking' - a book for people curious about ways to think differently about work. It's being published in May 2019 by Kogan Page.

Find out more

Harvest Digital

Harvest Digital is a leading performance-based full service digital marketing agency based in the heart of London. Our clients span many different sectors – finance, retail, technology – but what they have in common is a hunger to drive more value from their digital marketing budgets.

At Harvest, we create value through our channel expertise within all aspects of search marketing, display, and social media. Value comes from an effective integrated strategy, from knowing how best to combine different channels and devices.

We deliver the full value of digital marketing – and that means more than just strong sales performance. It means brand building, customer engagement, product testing, market research, and lead generation.

At the heart of performance is relevance. Success in digital is about showing the right person the right message in the right location – it’s as simple as that. 

From the very start, we were focused on integrated digital marketing including media planning and buying and creative development – and we still are. 

Find out more


With the evolution of the experience economy, people choose purposeful brands that deliver richer experiences, engaging and connecting with their lifestyle and values.

RPM collaborates with some of the world’s best known and forward-thinking brands to connect in culture, innovate new experiences and win in retail because in a world where actions speak louder, every experience matters.


Find out more


We are Kitty. We design & build performance driven websites with UX at the core.

We create experiences that your customers will truly connect with. Our natural curiosity means that creativity and technology sit at the heart of everything we do and, by putting human insight at the core of our creative process, we eliminate assumptions and adopt an agile and innovative approach to everything we create.

Kitty is part of independent digital network TIPi Group which is designed to offer clients a smarter hybrid of two agency models: Networks and Independent Specialists.

By building a network of specialist agencies that have grown organically and are united by a passion for delivering performance, we ensure we nurture and maintain their specialisms while embracing our collective strengths.

Belonging to a wider network means we have access to a broad range of talent and expertise including SEO Consultancy, Analytics and Content.

For specific platform skillsets, we also have access to our network of design and development specialists.

Our Services include:

Creative Technology - creatively using the most appropriate technology for your business requirements.

UX & Design - Balancing form with function, our user-centred approach improves brand performance.

Website Development - responsive experiences that will engage your audience and empower your brand.

For more information visit our website

or get in touch at

Kitty is part of TIPi Group, an award-winning network of specialist digital agencies. Find out more at

Find out more

Greenlight (now part of Brave Bison)

Greenlight has lived and breathed digital since 2001, when we started as three people in an old North London print shop. Today, we’re a full-service digital and commerce agency made up of 170 people, with a reputation for producing integrated, transformational strategies across the entire digital space.

We’re still run by the very same people who set us up, and we’re proud to be independent. It means we can move more quickly, boldly and effectively.

Our approach is data-led and 100% audience focused, which allows us to solve problems in the most impactful and measurably effective way for our clients. Of course, all this would mean nothing without our incredible staff. Our teams are made up of some of the most skilled, passionate, and inquisitive minds in the industry. People who really care about making a difference, and who our clients genuinely enjoy working with.

It’s this focus and passion that’s seen us deliver innovative work for brands such as ghd, Dixons Carphone, Superdry, Furniture Village, and eBay in over 30 countries.

We’re the people that grow our clients’ business, by putting their customers first.

And with over 140 nominations and awards under our belts, we think we must be doing something right.

Find out more

Foxtrot Papa

Find out more


For over 16 years we’ve been carefully crafting brand and communications solutions that create change and connect businesses with audiences in a meaningful way. We work with both established and emerging clients to get underneath their requirements, then add some weight and make a connection through inspired design and insightful marketing strategies.

Because after all, that’s what an underscore does

Since our formation in 1999, underscore has gained recognition for our consistent ability to deliver bold creative solutions from savvy commercial thinking. 

We have been defined by the results we've achieved, the awards we've won, the people we work for and those we employ.

We are also known for our no-nonsense approach based on finding "Orginality within reality" which means that clients trust us over to provide the ideas, support and solutions that will genuinely inspire an audience connection with their brand.

We call this inspiring brand connections

Find out more


Merkle is a leading data-driven, technology-enabled, global performance marketing agency that specialises in the delivery of unique, personalised customer experiences across platforms and devices. We call it ‘people-based’ marketing, and with over 25 years’ experience, we are proud to be recognised as a global leader.

Merkle’s heritage in data, technology and analytics is the foundation for our understanding of consumer insights that drives our people-based marketing strategies. Combined with our expertise in performance creative and media, we can then offer our clients content-driven, contextual and compelling customer experiences that drive business growth.

With our European HQ based in London, we are fast expanding across the globe. In 2016, the agency joined the Dentsu Aegis Network, one of the world’s biggest media companies. 

Find out more


Caliber delivers Smart Organic Marketing for great brands. That's the full SEO spectrum from technical infrastructure to PR-amplified content.

Strategic partners including Thomson, Saga Travel and turn to us for big-picture SEO advice.

Find out more - visit

Edinburgh Office Address:

7th Floor The Sugarbond, 2 Anderson Place, Edinburgh, EH6 5NP

Find out more

LONDON Advertising

LONDON is a global advertising agency built for today and is the only agency to have won Agency of the Year for four consecutive years. We create One Brilliant Idea that works in any media, any language and any market that is proven to deliver the highest ROI for our clients in their sector.

Find out more

Critical Mass

In a complex and fast-moving world, Critical Mass designs unparalleled brand experiences that connect with people. We were established in Calgary back in 1996, and since then we’ve helped global clients like Apple, Nike, Diageo, and BMW (and hundreds more over the years) reimagine digital and do what no one else in their category can do. Today, we’re over 1,400 digitally obsessed employees in 12 offices, across Europe, Asia, and North America—with a major, full-service hub in London.

What makes us different? We truly understand every part of our clients' digital ecosystems, and we deliver success by making data, creativity, and technology more connected, more efficient, and more powerful. Of course, digital never stands still, but neither do we. We help brands seize opportunities so that their customers get a better experience and a more seamless, dynamic, and personalised experience everywhere they go.

We’re also proud to be part of Omnicom, one of the largest holding companies for global advertising, marketing, digital, and communications services firms (serving more than 5,000 clients in over 100 countries).

No matter how much digital changes, one thing will always stay the same—who we are. We’re a transparent, honest, values-driven, passionate partner with a can-do attitude that our clients notice and appreciate.

We’re Critical Mass, but our friends call us CM. Please call us CM.

Find out more

TVC Group

TVC Group is a talented team of 40+ strategists, creatives, media relations specialists, social and digital experts and experienced producers and editors, from an eclectic mix of backgrounds, working from our Camden HQ and offices in Paris, New York and Hong Kong. We were acquired by The Economist Group in 2012.

We live by our five values – curious, smart, vibrant, ambitious, collaborative – and bring them to life through the work we deliver and how we live our day to day.

Everything we do is underpinned by insight, creativity and commercial rigour. We believe in knowledge before assumption, we value brain count over headcount and out-thinking over outspending. Our approach is channel neutral, so we’re always thinking in every possible direction.

Find out more


Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin.

We are Jackanory and we are brand experience and live events specialists who believe in the power of stories to truly connect with people. Stories you can see, feel, taste and hear.

We believe if you get the story right then that story will be shared, told and told again, making brands and businesses iconic in our daily lives.

We’re proud to have created success stories for many including Hamburg Convention Bureau, Brown-Forman, Bacardi, Elizabeth Arden, Canon, Dr.Oetker, Swatch, Google, Mitie and Heineken. We use insights, creativity and a sprinkling of fun to challenge the norms and create conversations through unique events and experiences; helping brands and businesses become the next bestsellers.

Find out more

More from Marketing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +