Remembering pioneer of modern influencer marketing Jamal Edwards
Jamal Edwards was the founder of music platform SB.TV, which helped propel the careers of many artists including Skepta, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and Dave. Launched in 2006, the YouTube channel now has more than 1.2m subscribers.
Edwards, who appointed MBE in 2014 for his services to music, was among the pioneers of using digital channels to promote his own businesses and passions – a move away from the first wave of influencers who would typically use more straightforward product placements.
Speaking to PRWeek sister title Marketing in 2015, Edwards stressed the importance of brands needing to be integrated into their audience's lifestyle in order for the partnership to be ‘symbiotic’.
“If you look at a lot of young people, [using the] iPhone or wearing Thomas Sabo – [it’s] how you put it into content. It’s symbiotic. Brand gets return on investment and the audience doesn’t look at it as a massive piece of branded content,” he said.
The multi-talented Edwards was also an author, DJ, designer, and was renowned for his philanthropic work in areas such as mental health support and provisions for young people. He was an ambassador for the Prince of Wales’ charity, the Prince’s Trust.
In 2020, the Department for Education teamed up with Edwards for a campaign encouraging young creatives to consider undertaking an apprenticeship.
Rahul Titus, head of influence, UK and EMEA, at Ogilvy, said: “Countless influencers have since followed in his footsteps, but Jamal created the original rulebook on influence – building a career based on lifting other people up; giving people a platform where none existed; and, on a more personal note, reshaping what good influence looks like.
“He is one of the most influential people of my generation, someone I will always remember fondly for his humility, drive and genuine love for his craft. I am forever grateful to him for reshaping how we define mainstream culture and opening up doors for people like me. His legacy and impact will be felt for generations to come. Thank you, Jamal.”
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