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Brand Strategy Strike Influencer Marketing

Can Hollywood influencers work during the strike? A guide for brands and creators

By Shannon Reed, Vice President of Operations



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October 2, 2023 | 7 min read

One of the two labor strikes that have halted production in Hollywood ended last week. The other continues. What does that mean for brands working with SAG talent? The Fifth’s Shannon Reed investigates.

Protestors in the Hollywood writers and actors strike

The Hollywood SAG-AFTRA strike wears on - but what does it mean for creators? / Chris Long via Unsplash

Although the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike came to an end this week, the labor union representing most on-screen talent, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has not come to any resolution.

As the SAG strikes enter their fifth month, creators and studios alike are still grappling with the state of partnerships among a number of misconceptions. Let’s try and clear some things up.

Can SAG creators still do sponsorships and partnerships?

At this point, studios may feel perplexed by the roles and constraints of influencer campaigns during the strike. And many creators are grappling with the continuously evolving landscape, roles, and constraints during the strike.

At present, creators can still engage in commercial endeavors, including brand sponsorship deals. This encompasses a wide range of projects, such as TV commercials, digital and radio ads, music videos, radio shows, broadcast news, industrial productions, animation, and more – as long as the sponsoring brands are not from the studios affected by the strike.

If a creator is already under contract to promote struck work, SAG has stated that a creator should honor their contractual obligations.

These rules are technically only applicable to SAG-AFTRA members; however, SAG-AFTRA stated that “any non-member seeking future membership in SAG-AFTRA who performs covered work or services for a struck company during the strike will not be admitted into membership in SAG-AFTRA.”

Currently, those struck companies are:

  • Major studios: Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros, and all subsidiaries

  • Principal broadcast TV networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and all subsidiaries

  • Streaming services: Netflix, Apple TV+, Amazon, HBO, Peacock, etc.

  • Some independent and cable networks

  • Signatory video game companies: Activision, Blindlight, Disney Character Voice, Electronic Arts Productions, Epic Games, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Take 2 Productions, VoiceWorks Productions, and WB Games

Recommendations for studios running influencer campaigns during the strike

Executing creator/influence campaigns amid a strike demands more resource allocation and strategic planning to ensure campaign success, and extending lead times for optimal results.

Studios should be prepared for challenges in onboarding high-profile creators with substantial followings (over 100k followers) – although there is no discernible trend regarding creator type (for example lifestyle v DIY v family) and their willingness to collaborate with struck companies. Anticipate multiple rounds of vetting to secure the most suitable talent for your campaigns.

Start by extending campaign timelines to accommodate delays in securing talent. Next, look at how you can re-prioritize given the present conditions, for example through impactful content collaboration with niche, smaller creators, or increasing investment in paid media to compensate for reduced organic reach.

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Recommendations for influencers contemplating their position amid the strike

SAG membership is not required for many TV, film, video game, or corporate entertainment roles. SAG-AFTRA provides benefits, minimum guarantees, and networking opportunities to its screen actor members.

As an influencer, it's crucial to balance your immediate business and revenue objectives with your long-term aspirations in the world of screen acting. We recognize that influencers face tough choices, and rest assured, these decisions will not be held against you.

Strategically prepare your personal business affairs to meet your financial needs, considering the possibility of a prolonged strike. Understand that agencies will not hold your decision to abstain from participation against you. It's also unlikely that struck companies will impose penalties for your non-participation in ongoing projects.

We acknowledge the immense challenges faced by all parties during this unprecedented time. For studios marketing new shows or movies and creators looking to expand their entertainment clientele, the challenges will continue until a SAG resolution is reached.

Brand Strategy Strike Influencer Marketing

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