A Workish guide to history’s most influential influencers

—Introducing Workish, Sandy Marshall’s lighter take on the industry for The Message

With the recent release of two documentaries about 2017’s less-than-fiery Fyre Festival (Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Fyre on Netflix), marketers and consumers are taking a closer look at the effects of social media influencers across today’s disruptive marketing landscape.

Even though celebrity and influencer endorsements have enjoyed a time-honoured and successful run across a broad spectrum of applications (C-3PO had his own cereal, and everyone’s heard that, wait, Bo knows Tennis?), the industry seems to be shifting its focus towards nano-influencers with audiences in targeted areas, and longer partnerships with established entities.

When searching for new influencers to persuade and engage, sometimes past success can predict tomorrow’s trends. I believe it was Thomas Edison who said “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% follower acquisition.”

With that in mind, here’s an abbreviated list of history’s most influential influencers for your next campaign (based on audience size, credibility and proven ability to drive your choice of jam).

If you’re looking for an influencer to represent your brand with a grounded, forceful presence, Gravity is for you. Not only has Gravity been around since literally forever, it takes an “always-on” approach to consumer interaction and real-time responses. Sure, the galaxy’s dominant force isn’t able to sway consumer buying habits at the subatomic level, but even Isaac Newton famously posited that “With Gravity, F is the force, m1 and m2 are the object’s masses, and DDP is the Diet Dr. Pepper, which has the same great taste as regular Dr. Pepper, but none of the sugar.” Please note: photos and videos not available.

The world’s first visual influencer and greatest artist of the 16th Century, Michelangelo helped shape the development of Western art while maintaining an interactive brand voice with his audience. His most significant achievement was the Sistine Chapel, which features a groundbreaking use of the golden ratio, breathtaking frescoes, and the world’s first Velcro wall. Michelangelo also delivers content calendar expertise with an agile approach to stakeholder management. Now booking projects with four-year timelines.

Marie Curie
A Nobel Prize-winning physicist and chemist, Marie Curie* pioneered research on radioactive isotopes while discovering the elements radium and polonium. Known for blending thought leadership with brand championship, Mme. Curie famously wrote “Be less curious about people, and more curious about ideas. Also, there’s no time like the present to book that surprise weekend getaway to Myrtle Beach, where lodging packages at Grande Dunes are 20% off, now through March break.” (*Talent rider includes a fully-functional early 20th Century laboratory, plus ground transportation to and from the airport.)

As P.T. Barnum reportedly once said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity, only poorly devised intelligent user interfaces.” With that, we reintroduce Clippy, Microsoft’s widely panned early-model digital assistant—whose ability to spark human reactions could be re-applied to nudge customers through the buyer journey. Clippy delivers both household name recognition and a polarizing personality, so schedule time in your procurement cadence to double-confirm every step. It looks like you’re hiring Clippy to publish three posts per week wearing Aviator-style sunglasses. Would you like assistance with that?

Mom’s Friend Gail
A recent entry into the most successful influencers of all time, Mom’s Friend Gail is digital media’s True North when it comes to word-of-mouth and earned media impressions. Though she might not write about an all-night rave to help underscore the brand promise of Chobani Lime, her secondary endorsements through “likes” and “retweets” will move the needle for that late majority in the back of the Suburban. Best practice recommendation: Keep your phone handy, as she’ll follow-up with a call to reinforce her enthusiasm.

An honourable mention goes to LUCA, Evolution’s Last Universal Common Ancestor, who lived about 3.5 billion years ago and technically sports the most actual followers of any entity, ever. Might be useful for next week’s flash mob at the corner of Yonge and Dundas.

Sandy Marshall (@MarshallSandy) is the creator of Workish and a partner at Norman Howard, a Toronto-based comedic content shop. He’s also a producer, television actor, and business speaker.