Business news

Holywood-based Smarts invests over £1m in new ‘Creator Hub’ to unleash clever creativity

Posted By:

8th Jun 2023

New division to accelerate award-winning influencer and talent work.

  • Smarts to hire 10 new specialists to bolster existing team.
  • New offering to be led by PR Week’s 30 Under 30 winner Jill Boobyer, working from the agency’s Holywood HQ
  • ‘Creator Hub’ built to help brands forge a new kind of agile cultural relevance.
  • Work already underway on creator campaigns globally for and Zalando

Smarts, the global PR and creative agency (recently ranked as the UK’s #1 agency headquartered outside of London, and #8 in the Consumer PR agency table) has today announced investment of over £1m – including the creation of 10 specialist new full-time roles – in its new influencer and talent offering, ‘Creator Hub’.

The new division will forge authentic partnerships between brands and content creators globally (from celebrities to micro-influencers) to co-create content with genuine cultural traction. By working with an ‘open’ mindset the intention is to find dynamic and engaging talent from wherever it’s needed –  breaking free from the limitations of a traditional agency talent roster.

The firm’s hiring spree has already begun – across the agency’s offices in Holywood, London, and New York – with the appointment of influencer strategist Gina Deen (who, in previous roles, ran PUMA UK’s ambassador programme and led global influencer campaigns for Max Factor and Gucci Beauty) and Josefina Ballesta (who has led influencer campaigns for Disney, Netflix and Sephora).

These appointments, in addition to the current 15-strong team, will be focused on deepening existing partnerships with online platforms including Meta and TikTok, building the agency’s data stack and supporting an extensive new business drive.

The new division is already working on recently won global briefs for and Zalando.

The move builds on the firm’s 15+ years’ experience in influencer and talent marketing that has seen it work on standalone and integrated campaigns alongside the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Peggy Gou, Snow Patrol, Jenson Button and Dua Lipa for brands like Johnnie Walker, ASICS, Bosch and North Face.

It will be led by Jill Boobyer, based in Smarts’ Holywood HQ, and last year recognised in PR Week’s 30 Under 30 list. Boobyer will be supported by Smarts US President, Mike DaRe, former Global Head of Culture and Entertainment for Diageo’s Johnnie Walker brand.

Boobyer said:

“The influencer industry and creator economy are evolving fast. There is a real shift towards brands seeing influencers and talent as collaborators and creative consultants rather than just paid distribution channels – and that means there is new kind of craft and invention in how creators are producing content today. 

“When creators live and breathe the codes and behaviours of the platforms they are truly native on they can forge a new kind of agile cultural relevance for brands – co-creating clever, attention-grabbing, campaigns that do what a brand needs them to do, in ways that the audience wants to engage with. 

“The old forced ‘grip and grin with products’ approach that dominated the influencer world for so long has had its day. The emerging opportunity is to unlock the cultural potential of thousands of creators who can work with brands to make work that really sticks – and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do with ‘Creator Hub’.”

Group Head of Creative and Strategy, Colin Corbridge, said:

“‘Creator Hub’ is about celebrating and championing the outstanding creativity that comes from thousands of social creators all around the world. 

“It enables us to harness the creative energy, diverse perspectives and production agility of a new generation of talent and influencer – and it’s the right time to make this kind of investment. We’re really excited about what it can bring to our work.”

The ‘Creator Hub’ is a further step in Smarts’ global expansion – where +£2M investment in content production, digital and influencer capabilities since 2020 has seen the firm become a global leader in culture-driven communications – jumping 14 places in PR Week’s Consumer table (from #22 in 2020 to #8 today), with growth of 11%, and 42 new hires over the past twelve months alone.