Two Auckland-based PR executives have launched a social media content and talent agency to tap into New Zealand’s influencer market.

Greer Bland and Gina Williams of Undertow Media have set up Liquorice, an agency that will work with businesses on their social media output and deliver campaigns through influencers’ platforms.

On the talent side of the business, the Grey Lynn-based agency has signed up names including radio host Athena Angelou and Ben Evans, creator of the viral NZ Lockdown Memes page.

The influencers will be matched up with different brands, while the agency will also create tailored social media content for businesses.

The launch comes as the pulling power of platforms such as Instagram lures more advertising dollars away from traditional channels.

Williams said the agency would look to harness the “power of social media” as more NZ companies deploy their advertising spend into social platforms.

Bland said companies would be able to launch campaigns “without having to go to a big agency and spend tens of thousands on photo shoots and models”.

Bland added businesses were keen to capitalise on the “blurred line between content and commerce” and reach more people through social channels.

“It’s the authentic-looking content that sells products. If it looks like UGC [user generated content], they know that works.”

Doing more for the 'gram

Bland predicted platforms like Instagram would become more optimised and sophisticated at hosting adverts advertising over time, leading to further growth. 

Liquorice will help Kiwi companies with product shots and other images and package them for social channels.

The firm will use a network of creatives to produce content, using its base of contacts from PR and social media agency Undertow.

Williams said larger creative agencies were often not the best fit for “quick turnaround” social media projects.

She said businesses needed authentic local content rather than stock images and videos: “From large corporates to small businesses, they need a constant suite of imagery.”

The agency launch comes as advertising and tax regulators crackdown on social media influencers and begin to police Instagram adverts more closely.

Influencers such as The Bachelor New Zealand winner Vianni Bright have drawn scrutiny for not labelling posts as adverts or featuring gifted items. 

Williams said grey areas remained, particularly around “who got paid and who got gifted [items]”, and how regulators would treat those cases.

“We always make sure that everyone we’re working with abides by the rules,” Bland said. “No one wants to be pulled up. It has become part of the norm now. There are still parts of the [ASA] code that don’t make sense, but we will abide by the rules and give them feedback until things get cleared up.”

The Liquorice team said the heightened scrutiny on influencers would turn out to be a positive for the market, with a clearer set of rules to work with.

“As the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines evolve and things get tricky with the IRD, the paid space will only grow because of that,” Williams said.