Just over 100 days ago, Dolphin Entertainment, the parent company of Be Social and Socialyte, announced it was merging the two entities into a new streamlined influencer marketing venture called The Digital Dept.
Now, well into this new undertaking, we sat down with Dolphin CEO Bill O’Dowd to understand the strategic vision behind the merger and future direction of the industry as a whole.
Dolphin Entertainment CEO Bullish On Newly Formed Influencer Venture
O’Dowd Sees Massive Potential in United Influencer Venture
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Net Influencer, O’Dowd detailed his bullish perspective on uniting Be Social and Socialyte into one influencer services provider. He stated unambiguously: “We think there’s an opportunity to build the market leading influencer marketing agency for entertainment.”
According to a company announcement, The Digital Dept. will provide full-service influencer talent management as well as both organic and paid social media campaigns for brands. With over 200 signed creators already representing over 200 million collective followers, the combined reach offers brands and entertainment clients direct access to trendsetters across sectors like fashion, tech and hospitality.
In the same announcement The Digital Dept Co-CEOs Sarah Boyd and Ali Grant alo suggest the unified operation will facilitate more brand partnerships and awareness opportunities at scale by merging their complementary strengths. Boyd highlighted their “comprehensive organic and paid influencer strategy for brands” plus production and marketing support from across Dolphin. Grant emphasized the ability to now “better serve our client’s needs in ways that simply haven’t existed before.”
Assembling Complementary Pieces into an Influencer Powerhouse
According to O’Dowd, acquiring both Be Social and Socialyte was part of Dolphin’s strategic plan from the early stages. The concept was to combine their complementary strengths under one umbrella.
He stated Be Social had already built out talent management, organic campaigns and events primarily on the West Coast. At the same time, Socialyte centered more on paid influencer initiatives, as well as talent management and thrived on the East Coast.
O’Dowd said “it really felt right to us” to bring these puzzle pieces together as The Digital Dept. Through the merger, the entity has secured a true bi-coastal presence while offering the full suite of services. He suggested this will now allow serving brands through “both organic and paid campaigns” seamlessly.
Cementing Category Leadership
With Entertainment PR agencies like 42West (with 24 Oscar nominations this year, and clients such as Tom Hanks, Martin Scorcese and the James Bond franchise) and Shore Fire Media (with 23 Grammy nominations this year, and clients such as Bruce Springsteen, the Dave Matthews Band and Chance the Rapper) already under the Dolphin umbrella, O’Dowd saw a gap remaining in influencer marketing. He believes launching The Digital Dept. completes the stack to cement an end-to-end entertainment marketing services arsenal.
As O’Dowd puts it: “Influencers today, many of them do qualify as celebrities…We think there’s an opportunity to build an elite influencer marketing company to be an equal to our PR firms.”
He points to Dolphin’s existing entertainment PR dominance across film, music and hospitality. O’Dowd suggests The Digital Dept. now completes the circle to have all marketing bases covered.
O’Dowd confirms Dolphin will continue investing heavily to expand The Digital Dept. and its market profile. The overarching goal is locking in category leadership to fully capitalize on the intersection of entertainment and the creator space.
The Critical Role of Influencer Marketing
Given the infusion of influencer content across entertainment and marketing, O’Dowd argues this digital talent plays an indispensable role for brands today. He stated unequivocally: “Influencer marketing across entertainment…goes hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.”
In his view, launching films, albums, hotels or consumer brands now depends greatly on having influencer integration as a core launch strategy. He suggests the towering media costs now involved make success nearly impossible otherwise.
O’Dowd contends that beyond major studios, brands rarely can afford the bloated media budgets in 2024. In the context of minimized returns on investment, earned media emerges as the only realistic path forward for many marketers.
As he asserts: “You’re bringing products to market solely with PR and influencer marketing – and that’s why influencer marketing is so critical.”
The Outlook for Influencer Marketing
While acknowledging the category has substantially evolved from the days of “mommy bloggers,” O’Dowd expects ties between influencer talent and entertainment/marketing to only strengthen.
Given expansive low-cost reach and resonance with younger demos, creators clearly aren’t going anywhere. As brands face ever-more-expensive paid options, deepening relationships with proven influencers looks inevitable.