Episode 12 : Brian Camen, Senior Director, Media, Content & Public Relations at Ferrara Candy Company
What should brands REALLY be paying per influencer? How does influencer compensation get determined when putting together an entire influencer marketing campaign? And will we ever see influencer rates being standardized across the industry?
We attempt to answer these questions and more our latest Art of Sway episode with expert guest Brian Camen, Senior Director of Media, Content, and Public Relations at the Ferrara Candy Company.
Join host Danielle Wiley and Brian as they dig into the often-thorny subject of influencer compensation, including brand exclusivity demands, and what kinds of payment standardization may be possible in the future.
A few standout moments to be listening for:
- (09:26, Brian): “It was moms who started it all. The industry evolved from blogs to social platforms, celebrities then started getting pay days by having gifting events in LA and you wanted to sponsor it. And oh, look at me now. Celebs evolved to just general influencers, platforms evolved. Content creators became a thing. And it all happened pretty quickly, within 10 years.”
- (11:08, Brian): “I always think to myself okay, should marketers and agency folk band together to set the rates? And if platforms can figure out how much they can pay influencers, why can’t marketers? Then I go to the flip side and tell myself well, it’s likely because there’s no way anyone is ever going to agree to a standardization and somebody’s always going to trump it.”
- (14:27, Brian): “There’s a lot of different criteria, reach, engagement, type of content, exclusivity, all these different factors that go into rate. And working with an agency like Sway Group can definitely help.”
- (15:23, Danielle): “Our perspective is that brands need to step away as much as possible from extreme exclusivity demands.”
- (19:05, Danielle): “We were really happy to see the ANA’s measurement guidelines because it just helps us. We know how much great data we can have. And when you have clients who are not educated in what’s valid and what’s not, it hurts us if they go to a competitor who’s giving them shoddy data and there’s nothing to check that against. ”
- (22:14, Danielle): “One of the reasons I got into this business in the first place was to get women paid what they were worth. Who’s more influential? Who are you going to trust more? Who’s more compelling? Who’s creating better content? Who do you truly believe is standing in the supermarket, in the diaper aisle, making that decision?”
Episode 12: Brian Camen Transcript
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway. This is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits and is changing the way we talk to each other. Let’s dive in.
Danielle Wiley: Brian and I have known each other for years, so it was fun getting a chance to catch up with him on the podcast. It was particularly great to have a back and forth with him about the oftentimes heated subjects of influencer rates and exclusivity. On a lighter note, I also love learning that we are both Scorpios with the special fondness for [inaudible 00:00:52].
Danielle Wiley: Brian Camen is the senior director of media, content and public relations at Ferrara, overseeing paid, owned, and earned media for more than 25 candy brands, including Trolli, SweeTARTS, and Nerds. Prior to joining Ferrara, Brian worked on the agency side for 10 years, creating award-winning campaigns for both large and small B2C and B2B brands across industries. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago. Okay. Well, welcome Brian. It’s so great to have you on.
Brian Camen: Danielle, so good to see you again.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Yeah. Last time I saw you in person was pre-pandemic at a very fancy, delicious steak dinner, I think in Chicago, right?
Brian Camen: Yeah. One of my favorite restaurants. One of my favorite steakhouses in Chicago.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Brian Camen: Prime & Provisions.
Danielle Wiley: I was going to say, we have to tell people what it is if we’re going to tout it. Prime & Provisions, yep. So you are on … Well, regardless, it’s great to talk to you, but this came about specifically because you got our email about the podcast and you emailed me just with a wishlist topic that you wish we would discuss, and I was like, “Yes, that’s a great topic. I will discuss it with you.”
Brian Camen: And now here I am.
Danielle Wiley: And now here you are.
Brian Camen: Yeah. No, I’ve been big fan of the Sway Group for a long time now.
Danielle Wiley: Well, thank you. So I want to get into this great topic that you came up with, but before that, why don’t we give people just a little bit of background on your journey to the role you have now, what that role is. You don’t have to start with, “I was born on a summer day,” but just your career journey.
Brian Camen: I was born on October 24th. No, in all seriousness …
Danielle Wiley: I’m October 28th.
Brian Camen: What?
Danielle Wiley: Happy birthday.
Brian Camen: Happy birthday.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, mines tomorrow.
Brian Camen: That is amazing. We’re both Scorpios. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that two Scorpios are talking? I don’t know. I don’t know.
Danielle Wiley: I usually, I get along very well with Scorpios and Leos.
Brian Camen: Okay.
Danielle Wiley: I find.
Brian Camen: Okay. All right.
Danielle Wiley: So, yeah.
Brian Camen: So I hope you have some exciting birthday plans coming up. To start, I started my career back in higher education, public relations. 2007, I was the only millennial in the workforce. I worked at a graduate school, a business school. I didn’t go to B School, but I worked there doing PR. And as the only millennial, that’s around the time that social media for our business became a thing and I assumed the responsibilities at the business school of doing social. And at the time, a team of one learning from myself knew I needed to get some more experience and was relocating to Chicago. And spent 10 years after that in the agency space.
Brian Camen: So working at Ogilvy & Mather and then working at Golin, always in the digital, social, influencer space. And fast forward back to December 2018, started at Ferrara Candy Company. You might have heard of some of our brands, Trolli, SweeTARTS, and Nerds, Brach’s, Lemonheads. The list goes on and on. There’s about 25 plus brands. And really started my journey with Ferrara focused on all things social and influencers. What really excited me about the role was the fact that we had all these iconic candy brands that just make everyone smile that had a very limited online presence.
Brian Camen: So I spent a lot of time general housekeeping, getting it an order, establishing processes and practices. And my remit has since expanded. And now I oversee content, media and public relations. And within that falls influencers, as you know. Have a team of eight or so rock stars that I love coming to work every day virtually and in person driving our brands forward.
Danielle Wiley: I have to ask if I’ve ever told you my crazy Ferrara story?
Brian Camen: If you have, I don’t remember. What is it? Hopefully, it’s a crazy good one. Everybody always-
Danielle Wiley: It’s a good one, a crazy good one.
Brian Camen: Everybody always has a story.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So we were still living in Chicago and our kids were pretty little. And we had tickets to a Blackhawks game. We went and we showed up early because I think it was a Bobblehead night. And of course, we wanted four Bobbleheads, which I probably still have laying around. And so we got there early. And I have to think we were probably just the cleanest-looking family at the game, or not drunk or I don’t know. But someone came up to us and said, “Congratulations, you’re family of the game.” This is before the game even started.
Brian Camen: Family of the game.
Danielle Wiley: Family of the game. “We’re going to come grab you between second and third period, take you to these other seats, put you on the jumbotron and announce you as family of the game.” And my husband’s like, “What is this scam? Are they going to scam us into season tickets? What’s happening here?” And so they come, I was like, “Why are you so cynical? Enjoy it.” So they come and grab us. We go on the jumbotron, and then they announce that we’ve won a suitcase of candy every month for a year.
Brian Camen: Wow.
Danielle Wiley: And that sounds great, and it was fun. And I was like, “That’s terrific.” And then I kind of forgot about it. And a suitcase, probably a little box in the shape of a suitcase. The next month, it’s enormous. It’s two feet, two and a half feet wide by maybe a foot and a half deep. And it has two layers. I mean, there’s probably…
Brian Camen: 25 to 30 pounds of candy in there.
Danielle Wiley: 25 to 30 pounds of candy, every month for a year.
Brian Camen: That is amazing.
Danielle Wiley: And I mean, I had two little kids, so I was like, “You will all die of diabetes if you eat all of this. We need to share the goodness out there.” So when we were still in Chicago, my kids would set up candy sales on the corner and donate all the money to charities. So we did the the Jimmy V Fund for cancer research, the Humane Society. And then we moved to California in the middle of it. Of course, more important than changing our address with anyone else, was changing our address with Ferrara so the candy would still arrive. And we sold it as a fundraiser at my son’s school on movie night. And we just spread the Ferrara love to everyone. If you met us that year, we gave you candy.
Brian Camen: Thank you for sharing the light. I am happy to report that the candy suitcase is still around and every employee, every new employee, gets a candy suitcase when they start at Ferrara. And it brings pure joy to everyone’s face. There’s probably countless, countless photos on LinkedIn of employees with their candy suitcases. It’s an amazing treat.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. One of our best family memories, and it was a long time ago.
Brian Camen: That’s really cool. That was really cool.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you, Ferrara. I could talk about candy the whole time, but we want to talk about the evolution of influencer marketing, first of all, because you brought up some interesting points about how it’s evolved. And I’ve been actually having a lot of conversations about this week. And then also get into the standardization or lack thereof of influencer rates, which I think is really the meat of what you wanted to get into.
Danielle Wiley: But one of the things in terms of the evolution of influencer marketing, having both been in it really since the beginning, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this as much as I do because I’m a mom and you’re not. But I feel like a lot of people these days, especially younger people in this space, forget that the whole influencer industry was created by moms and they were the first ones who really started to make money off of this.
Brian Camen: You know this topic better than anyone, you’re an OG, you’ve got tons of experience here. And I go back to 2010, you probably go back to 2005. But in terms of, okay, in 2010 I was working at Ogilvy & Mather. I’ll never forget, we were working on VTech Electronics, the toy division. So VTech Kids. And we had a VTech mom, she was a community manager of the Facebook page. Her kids grew up. So then we had a VTech infant mom. We had a private group on Facebook to help her manage. And then there was all of these mom bloggers that you needed to get in front of their holiday gift guides. You needed to do it, no option.
Brian Camen: That was how you were raising awareness of your brand during the holiday time. Go to Toy Fair, meet with countless, countless, countless mom bloggers. And it was moms who started it all. It really was. And then it branched out or it evolved. The industry evolved from blogs to social platforms, celebrities then started getting pay days by having gifting events in LA and you wanted to sponsor it. And oh, look at me now. Celebs evolved to then just general influencers, platforms evolved. Content creators became a thing. And it all happened pretty quickly, within 10 years, which it is quick.
Brian Camen: But I’ll never forget, no matter what era we were in of influencers, the rates continued to increase. You were paying astronomical prices to people because they could demand it and they got what they asked for. And I’ll never forget in my agency days, I was working on a big box retailer. Obviously you know, but we’re not going to say the name. But we were working with these twin girls, young girls who we paid six figures to. And it is for a video, short to mid form video. And it’s just, it’s crazy because there’s a lot of people who are making, who made and are making a lot of money in this industry. Here we are in the creator economy and content creators have full control over their rates, market rate, going rate, influencers, they’re driving it.
Brian Camen: And I always think to myself okay, so should marketers and agency folk band together, we’re going to set the rates. And if platforms can figure it out, can figure out how much they can pay influencers, why can’t marketers? Then I go to the flip side and tell myself well, it’s likely because there’s no way anyone is ever going to agree to a standardization and somebody’s always going to trump it, somebody’s always going to lowball. And the $5 billion, according to eMarketer that’s spent on influencer marketing in ’22. I don’t know, you probably have more accurate numbers than I do. It’s like there’s no way to control that. That’s just so much.
Danielle Wiley: It’s so much. It’s standardized a little bit for us internally just because there’d be no way to do our pricing otherwise, in terms of the pricing that we’re presenting to clients. So we have a pretty complex pricing worksheet and it has a section for every platform and within each platform it has sections for the different tiers. And we go really deep on that. So even within the tier of micro-influencers on Instagram, we have three levels of micro-influencers because someone with 11,000 followers is not going to demand as much as someone with 75,000 followers.
Brian Camen: One would think. One would think.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Well, within that we have plus ups because sometimes it’s complicated if we’re asking someone to create an original recipe, which takes a lot of work, or if it’s a fashion influencer who needs to also pay to high a stylist and a photographer and a makeup artist. And there are certainly factors, but I feel like what you’re getting at is more, so we go out there, I mean we have the benefit of recruiting for lots of campaigns. So we have a little bit more control over the situation and we have a large network. But we’ll go out there and we’ll say, “This is what we’re paying for these programs.” And to your point, there are always people who come back and demand more. And sometimes we have the luxury of saying, “We’re not paying that this time. Good luck to you on your journey.”
Danielle Wiley: But sometimes we need a man on Instagram because the client wants to make sure that there’s an even split from a gender perspective. And there are just not that many men on Instagram doing sponsored content that’s appropriate for most of our brands, and simple supply and demand issue. They can ask for more, which gets into this whole other gross conversation of okay, so if the guys are asking more and then we have a campaign where this guy who’s not any better than the woman asked for more, then do we have to pay everyone more to keep it equitable? There’s a lot that goes into. So yes, I mean we have those standard rates. Has there ever ever been a campaign where every single person on the campaign took exactly what we hoped they would take? No, it becomes a total bucket of money and we try to divvy it up as best we can.
Brian Camen: And I hear you, there’s a lot of different criteria, reach, engagement, type of content, white listing, exclusivity, all these different factors that go into rate. And working with a group, the Sway Group can definitely help. But in the long run, overall we don’t have that benefit. And we try to estimate, okay, it’s $100 per 1,000 followers, but then all of a sudden now TikTok is on the rise and they’re either significantly undervaluing themselves or significantly overvaluing themselves. Oh wait, there’s more. They don’t actually know how to work with a marketing department. So there’s an abundance of outliers, and I agree with you that we have general parameters and factors, but for some reason over the years it’s never that simple. It’s never that easy.
Danielle Wiley: No, no. I would love to dive a little bit deeper with you into the exclusivity question because we have the perspective that, and this is very easy for us to have this perspective because we’re not a brand. Our perspective is that brands need to step away as much as possible from extreme exclusivity demands.
Brian Camen: Do you see how that has evolved so much in the past 10 years? We want 60 days before, 90 days after. And now you’re lucky if you get ten days, seven days, three days. So yeah, I agree with you that brands shouldn’t marry themselves to the exclusivity clause and have to have some flexibility. But I can tell you, I’m always going to ask for it.
Danielle Wiley: Okay, so I want to ask you this question honestly. Do you think any actual real human in the world only buys one brand of candy? Do you think someone’s at the store and they’re like, “Oh, I can’t buy a Snickers. It’s not Ferrara. That’s my brand.” It’s not like Apple.
Brian Camen: I mean for the record, we are an in place-
Danielle Wiley: Or for you, you probably …
Brian Camen: Yeah. What I don’t want to happen is I don’t want an influencer content creator to post about whether it’s organic or paid right before or right after. If they’re going to do seven Instagram stories on a day and then one of them is about Brand X and then oh, all of a sudden it’s about our brand and it’s a competitor and then it’s about another brand, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not worth the dollar paying for it. So what I’m saying is I’m still going to ask for it, but I have realistic expectations that we are not where we used to be years ago in terms of exclusivity.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, we’ve been trying to play around with different ways of tackling it, especially on TikTok because there is such a high volume there. So sometimes we’ll even, instead of a certain number of days, we’ll say okay, a six video buffer.
Brian Camen: Yeah, that’s a nice idea.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I talk about this a lot. I’m addicted to American Pickers and Pawn Stars and I feel like I’ve learned all my negotiation tactics from Mike Wolfe. But as many things that you can pull out of your hat to try to just game the negotiation, like okay, you won’t take 15 days, but would you take 15 videos? Just changing up the wording can sometimes yield something that works for everyone.
Brian Camen: I hear you. And if it’s the Pawn Star guys in Vegas, I’ve been there and I sold them something once.
Danielle Wiley: You did?
Brian Camen: Yeah, it was a neon sign. It was very exciting. I only got $100, but …
Danielle Wiley: Still. Yeah, I walked past there once and I have a couple of things that I would love to bring, but we saw last night, they’re going on the road, they’re doing an antiques road show.
Brian Camen: Oh wow. Yeah, I know we’re digressing. But I once saw a Vegas show about the Pawn Stars. It wasn’t that good.
Danielle Wiley: I watched a lot of episodes yesterday. We were all too tired to watch anything deep. Sometimes you just want to lean back on your couch with a cocktail and Chumlee.
Brian Camen: That’s awesome. I know in terms of standardization, I’m not sure how familiar you are with the Association of National Advertisers.
Danielle Wiley: I am. Yep.
Brian Camen: Okay. They recently came out with measurement guidelines and their influencer committee is looking into the standardization. But it’s just such a tall order and I believe in it. I just don’t see it happening in our lifetime of marketing. I do agree with you that there’s a discrepancy between gender, race, and we need equality here.
Danielle Wiley: And I think maybe it’ll have to be ranges. I can tell you that creating, we knew for a long time we needed a pricing worksheet to try to make sense of all this because it’s so incredibly complex. And I can also tell you that it’s like the world’s scariest spreadsheet, because there are so many factors that go into this pricing. And we were really happy to see the ANA’s measurement guidelines because it just helps us. We know how much great data we can have. And when you have clients who are not educated in what’s right and what’s valid and what’s not, it hurts us if they go to a competitor who’s giving them shoddy data and there’s nothing to check that against. If they could do something similar with rates, I think it would have to be ranges. I think it would have to be vague guidelines.
Brian Camen: It’s tough. It’s really tough, especially with the rise of TikTok and the fact that TikTok is likely going to overtake YouTube and influencer spending in a short time, whether it be a year or two from now. And the fact that there are a lot of younger creators that don’t have experience or being guided in the wrong direction and need help from someone like you or others. I love TikTok, great platform, but in terms of creators definitely needs regulation.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, it’s funny because we see it on both sides. On the one hand, we had a creator somehow finagle a meeting with one of our clients. His manager got in front of the CMO who insisted that we all take this meeting and this creator and his manager came to the meeting, asked for seven figures with zero concepts or ideas, just said, “Yeah, I’d love to do something. I love your brand. It’ll be about seven.” There was no presentation or pitch. That’s the extreme of what you’re talking about.
Danielle Wiley: But then on the other hand, I was reading about the Container Store brand ambassador program yesterday and they’re not getting paid. They’re getting paid in a gift card and a content stipend, which stipend to me screams not much. And they’re giving up all usage rights to the brand. They’re creating content every month and they get affiliate. But anyone could get affiliate. So on the one hand you have crazy guy asking for seven figures and then on the other hand you have people who are vastly undervaluing their worth and you have brands kind of stuck in the middle. On one hand, some of them are taking advantage of creators, I think. And on the other hand, some of them are getting snowed in by creators who are not worth anything close to what they’re asking.
Brian Camen: I haven’t read about the Container Store yet, but what it screams to me is they likely have a wealth of brand fans and they have high value items. So they are smart to set up a program in that sense. Whether they’re undervaluing, overvaluing, I don’t know, but it sounds like the right move for them to make, given that they have high value items. I’m sure they’ve figured it out.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I mean listen, they’re getting the content. It’s interesting. I kind of sit in the middle of this too, because on the one hand I’m negotiating, not me personally, my team’s negotiating with influencers to try to get the best value possible for our brands. But on the other hand, one of the reasons I got into this business in the first place was to get women paid what they were worth. Because I saw that mom bloggers were creating content that was … I still remember I worked in a program for our diaper brand and we had mom bloggers and then Tori Spelling coming to event in Times Square, and Tori Spelling got six figures and the mom bloggers got a plane ticket and a few hundred bucks.
Danielle Wiley: And who’s more influential? Who are you going to trust more? Who’s more compelling? Who’s creating better content? Who do you truly believe is standing in the supermarket, in the diaper aisle, making that decision? Yeah, I’m torn because I hear you. And obviously, if you can get content without putting much money out there, that’s the smart business decision. But on the other hand, I can’t deny that I wouldn’t secretly say to those people, you’re worth more. Take the money and buy your own Elfa Shelving.
Brian Camen: Yeah, that’s funny. I think you and I have a lot more career overlap than we realize and we don’t have to go into it now, but I also worked on likely the same exact diaper brand back in early 2010.
Danielle Wiley: That’s probably right when it was.
Brian Camen: Yeah. Did similar type programs.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I think it was a race, I think it was a baby race in Times Square.
Brian Camen: That’s awesome.
Danielle Wiley: Okay, so we always end our podcast, I know we’re coming up on time, but we always end it by asking our guests what their not necessarily favorite commercial was when they were a kid, but what childhood TV commercial still sticks with you to this day?
Brian Camen: Okay, that’s a great question. It’s a hard question but it’s also an easy question. Where did you grow up?
Danielle Wiley: On Long Island.
Brian Camen: Okay, so do you remember the Hess Truck commercials?
Danielle Wiley: I have 16 years of Hess trucks in my utility room because my mom sends went to my son every year for Hanukkah and he is 17 now. And I’m like, you can still send me a truck, yes.
Brian Camen: So to me, growing up in Northern New Jersey, I don’t know, I thought Hess was regional but they might be national. I don’t remember.
Danielle Wiley: I think it’s New York, New Jersey. Isn’t the Jets are green? I think they’re green.
Brian Camen: Well, yes, yes, yes. But I remember those commercials year after year. They were either the same commercial or slight tweaks on them and they just always stuck with me throughout the holiday season. And I can still sing the jingle today, which I’m not going to, but Hess Truck, Hess commercials every holiday time. And then the also regional, even though this is a national podcast, but Nobody Beats the Wiz commercials also.
Danielle Wiley: Yes. There was a whole huge article about him in New York Times, I think because there’s a documentary about him.
Brian Camen: Oh, I haven’t seen it. I’ll have to check it out.
Danielle Wiley: I’ll find it for you. This was a couple of months ago now, but there was an article, I think it was because there was a documentary, but there was an article about The Wiz and nobody Beats the Wiz. And it’s interesting because I grew up and my husband grew up in Ohio but is a bit older than me and worked in the consumer electronics industry in New York before we met. And so his perspective of the Wiz, to me, I was a little kid and I’m like, Nobody Beats the Wiz. And that’s the commercial that was always running. And he knew it from a career, like that crazy guy in the consumer electronics business.
Brian Camen: Wow. See, small world. I think we have a lot more in common than we started out with.
Danielle Wiley: For sure. Well, I think that’s a sign of a good podcast episode.
Brian Camen: Heck yeah. Danielle, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you. Thank you for joining.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to share and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.