Celebrity & Influencer Marketing: Why You Need a Signatory

Celebrity influencers have quickly become highly sought-after talent for marketing campaigns. The number of projects involving these internet stars has dramatically increased in the last few years. And while this means more opportunities for social media creators, it is a relatively new niche with little protection against mistreatment.

In a recent interview for Teen Vogue, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said: “I think the biggest thing that I heard from influencers is the exploitation. They realized they had no control, and that was really frustrating—particularly as they started to grow in the business. These are big corporations, and it’s really difficult to feel empowered when you feel like you’re a lone voice.” That is why in February of 2021, SAG-AFTRA officially approved a new Influencer Agreement that allows social media creators to be covered by the union.

It is a breakthrough for the industry that the majority of young creators can now trust their rights to be protected. And while involving the union simplifies the job for the influencer hired for marketing, brands now face the burden of having to abide by SAG-AFTRA’s rules. Thus, the need for a qualified signatory company to step in and manage all SAG-AFTRA related issues.

Any project that falls under the union’s jurisdiction is required to pay applicable Pension & Health (P&H) contributions. This can only be done by a qualified SAG-AFTRA signatory company. P&H payments have become a big issue because failure to pay them on time results in costly penalties. Engaging a signatory in the early stage of a project is necessary for compliance and budgeting purposes.

The allocation of these P&H contributions depends on the classification of contract and the percentage of services covered by the union. Most marketing campaigns are governed by the SAG-AFTRA Commercial Contract. However, we are seeing more and more influencers providing acting services that fall under the Corporate/Educational & Non-Broadcast Contract.

These are educational campaigns that do not directly market a brand or product but raise awareness of a company’s goods or services. It is also worth noting that if at least one person involved in the shoot is a SAG-AFTRA member, all other performers must be covered under the applicable SAG-AFTRA agreement.

In the case of influencers, complying with SAG-AFTRA’s rules becomes paramount. It’s also a complicated task due to the indistinct and isolated nature of their work. That is why having a signatory involved is not only necessary, but beneficial for both the brand and the performer. Companies that provide SAG-AFTRA signatory services can help brands avoid big expenditures, determine the correct contract classification, and ensure that all terms are met to adhere to union criterion.

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