What creators want out of brand collaborations

The duo shared some important pointers at’s Social Knights roundtable

NEW DELHI: While improv genius, comedian & writer Abish Mathew, also known as a bankable influencer in the marketing world, stated that he is willing to sell his soul to the devil for a running price of Rs 3 crore, he is not quite excited about compromising on his creative and artistic values for brand collaborations. However, this is one thing that he often has to struggle with while picking up his brand deals. On the other hand, another prominent name in the influencer economy, digital content creator & actress Prajakta Koli has still not put a price tag on her soul, but admitted that she is in the process of filling a big dent that a brand deal gone wrong has put on the image of her comedy channel. 

Both of them are part of a booming arm of the marketing ecosystem. According to digital marketing agency AdLift, India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-150 million a year, as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion. If industry projections are to be believed, this number must have only grown in 2020 as the Covid2019 pandemic made many brands see the light when it comes to influencer marketing and what it can achieve for them. 

While the brand and marketing industry has been quite vocal about their influencer choices and their requirements from creators, they often miss out on considering what an artist demands from a brand collab, leading to some unpleasant experiences for both the parties. 

Therefore, with its first Social Knights virtual roundtable got all the stakeholders from the spectrum on a common platform and gave these two highly popular and successful influencers a chance to present their side of the story. Here’s a handy guide for all brands and marketers that they can refer to hereon while planning their influencer strategies: 

Don’t call them influencers, but content creators 

Both Koli and Mathew insisted that while they enjoy a massive following on social media, it may not necessarily lead to the sale of a product. The best they can do is incorporate the product into their content and make the people aware of its perks and disadvantages. 

Mathew mentioned that he would prefer offering brands an organic reach with his marquee shows like Son of Abish rather than creating a quick swipe up story. 

“It is a great idea to work with influencers and creators but also invest in properties that exist,” he said. “If you want a narrative, sponsor the shows that artists have written or made. I make so many losses with Son of Abish every year but the brand association gives me something to cover that up and come up with the next season. I want to tell everyone that instead of giving me so much money for a swipe up story, please help me build that show. See what we have done with 5 Star.”

Respect their ethos and principles

Both Mathew and Koli emphasised that they won’t do any brand endorsement which does not fall in line with their belief system and ethos. They would put an embargo on working with any brand that they feel forces them to compromise with that. 

Koli said, “I would never promote a fairness cream. I need to know what a brand stands for. Next is how well and how seamlessly I can integrate it into my content.”

Get into long-term partnerships

While both Mathew and Koli are equally creative and excited to work on one-off deals for a week or a month, they feel they will be able to give a more authentic treatment to long-term partnerships. It will give them more time to build a brand and merge it into their own properties and sketches. 

Mathew said, “What really matters is the longevity and a consistent narrative when choosing brands. There are things that I say no to because there is something that I did six months back, which was exactly similar. Give me something that is something different or as an artist I am not doing justice with the first brand I partnered with.”

Give them artistic freedom

Influencers are always trying to figure out the best way to incorporate a brand into their own stories and narratives in a way that their audience enjoys. Do not go to them with strict briefs, and listen to their inputs. 

“It’s just something I have learnt from a brand association that was a very direct and strict brief,” shared Koli. “We requested them to let us give it a slightly more relatable twist but they did not agree. I had to do it their way but it left a big dent on me and my channel’s image. It made me look like a sell-out. That’s what I would not like to do again.” 

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