M&C Saatchi is beefing up its presence in “influencer marketing” with the acquisition of majority stakes in two companies that use recommendations from social media personalities to drive ad campaigns. The group said it had acquired controlling stakes in Red Hare Digital, which specialises in beauty product influencers, and its sister company Grey Whippet.

Terms were not disclosed. Red Hare’s clients include Jordan Lipscombe, a UK-based beauty influencer with 1.35m subscribers on YouTube, and Kaushal Beauty, an Indian beauty influencer with 2m YouTube subscribers.

David Kershaw, M&C Saatchi’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that the investments were a departure for the company because it usually started businesses rather than taking majority stakes in fully fledged companies. “We don’t do many deals because we are fundamentally all about organic growth,” he said.

The group has started about 100 companies, he added. Influencer marketing has become an important part of the marketing mix, Mr Kershaw added.

“ Young audiences have become harder to reach and influencers are a very potent channel.” The deal comes a week after Unilever, one of the world’s biggest advertisers, warned that it would no longer work with influencers that buy followers on social media. “We believe influencers are an important way to reach consumers and grow our brands,” said Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer. Read more from ft.com…

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