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London, April 2024Leading social & influencer marketing agency YKONE, awarded Influencer Marketing Group of the Year, is broadening its global footprint by establishing its presence in the UK by the opening of a dedicated London office later this year, just a few weeks after announcing the acquisition of Barcode, India’s leading influencer marketing agency.

Paula Albuquerque has been appointed as the UK Vice President, heading the client relationships and agency offering in the region. Established in 2008 in France, YKONE is among the first of its kind in the industry, helping global leading brands unlock the value of the creator economy through a cutting-edge 360 and data-based integrated approach. Having pioneered and shaped the Influence space specializing in luxury and prestige industries, YKONE has since expanded its presence to other global markets including the Middle East, Asia, USA, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, and is now set to consolidate its presence in the UK.

The London inauguration marks a significant milestone in strengthening its global position as the leading agency in space, within the rapidly growing influencer economy in 2024.

London: Where Luxury Brands Meet

The UK’s dynamic landscape makes it an ideal backdrop for crafting brand campaigns that resonate both with local culture and at a global level, offering immense potential for new entrants to innovate in this space. 

As UK Vice President, Paula brings over 10 years of deep agency experience and expertise on social media and influencer marketing, having shaped the strategic Influence propositions of the world’s most renowned leading brands including Unilever Prestige, Chopard, Bumble, LIONSGATE+, Tangle Teezer and Hyundai. She has been a prominent player in the industry right from its infancy, with a track record of scaling up Influence-first businesses and leading multi-market award winning teams both at UK and global levels. Paula has presented and commented on expertise around social and influence for diverse mediums including Campaign, The Drum, PR Week, and Net Influence.

Based in London, Paula will work closely with global offices to elevate equity for local clients and grow the UK as a global center of excellence for Influence-first cutting edge marketing campaigns rooted in excellence, as YKONE builds its position as the world’s largest and most awarded Influence Group amongst prestige and luxury sectors.

“The UK opening and Paula’s appointment are equally a thrilling development and a true testament to the global footprint and borderless ways of working at YKONE. Paula has been at the forefront of driving innovation in this space and joins the group at a time when Influence has become an integral and crucial part of any brand’s ecosystem in the UK. The UK’s status as a global hub for high-end brands offers unparalleled opportunities to engage with both established and emerging luxury markets. I’m excited to partner with her to build on our momentum as a global leader in this medium and underscore our commitment to help clients deliver on business growth through our cutting edge work, approach rooted in excellence and innovation focus.”
remarked Olivier Billon, CEO of the YKONE group.

Paula Albuquerque, UK Vice President & Olivier Billon, Group CEO

With her extensive knowledge in the medium, Paula will build on the existing momentum of the Group by scaling YKONE’s capabilities in London.

“I’m thrilled to join the group at such an exciting time to build on the unwavering commitment to high standards and strong credibility YKONE has established on a global level. The UK market is definitely matured in the social and Influence landscape, which makes it equally as dynamic and exciting, offering immense potential for new players to innovate and redefine this space. I am excited to develop industry-leading work and transform the way we deliver value to clients here. In a territory where influencer and social are now commanding a large portion of brand marketing budgets, and often with debatable business impact, it has never been more important to redefine how we approach Influence and social, blending strategic planning, data-driven insights, rooted in world class creative solutions to deliver impact for brands.”
said Paula Albuquerque, Vice President of YKONE UK.

Meet Paula Albuquerque, UK Vice President – YKONE London

Congratulations on being appointed as Vice President for YKONE UK. Can you share with us your vision for YKONE in the UK market?
I’m thrilled to join the group at such an exciting time to help build on the strong foundation and credibility we have in place on a global level. The UK market is definitely matured in the social and influencer landscapes, which makes it equally as dynamic and exciting, offering immense potential for new players to innovate in this space. In a territory where influencer and social are now commanding a large portion of brand marketing budgets, and often with debatable business impact, it has never been more important to define a data-first, strategic approach rooted in strong cultural relevance that integrates Influence seamlessly into to the full marketing ecosystem, ultimately unlocking its full potential. Our vision for the UK is to bridge culturally relevant creative storytelling with data-first strategies to deliver meaningful business and community impact. Campaygn is our proprietary technology that enables this vision with a data-led approach to creativity. The UK’s rich social landscape offers a unique ground to ressignify the Influence proposition, and Ykone is strongly equipped to lead this charge as a global leader in this space.

 Influencer marketing is a competitive field. What makes the UK a must-go market for YKONE, and how do you plan to differentiate in such a saturated space?
The UK is at the forefront of digital innovation and cultural trends, making it a blank canvas for any player in the Influence and social space. With the agency landscape heavily saturated, yet with such fascinating cultural diversity and globalised focus, the possibilities to explore YKONE’s borderless creativity rooted in deep global credibility are endless. Brands are increasingly looking to partner with agencies that fully understand the complexities of an increasingly globalised landscape, with the ability to consistently deliver localised impact as the backbone of every campaign, as social media has ultimately broken down geographic barriers. What sets YKONE apart is our strong credibility as the pioneering global Influence group, and the deep commitment to bridge local cultural relevance with global impact through our solid international footprint across 18 offices distributed across Asia, Americas, Europe, and Middle East. Our differentiation is in our ability to craft Influence-centered strategies that resonate with local culture, leveraging extensive data learnings amalgamated over 15 years of experience delivering meaningful impact to global clients. This, combined with our integrated approach to Influence, with capabilities ranging from production, data, creative, design, and media planning, enable us to deliver unparalleled value to our clients, both at local and global levels. I am so excited to build on Ykone’s outstanding global legacy in the UK, the opportunities to develop industry-leading work here are unparalleled.

You’ve been credited with driving digital innovation for global brands. Can you give us an insight into the synergies you plan to create between your expertise and YKONE’s existing strengths?

My vision has always been rooted in setting a new standard across the industry, moved by a deep passion for breaking down the barriers of how Influence is perceived. I wanted to prove to global brands that if done right and integrated into the full marketing ecosystem,  Influence generates unparalleled value for both businesses and communities. 
As a global pioneer in this medium rooted in excellence, YKONE shares the passion for helping to shape the industry and driving a paradigm shift on how we approach Influence, having built a 360 integrated offering and striving to innovate in every project.

Backed by a global business model and led by multicultural experts in tech innovation, social, creative, editorial, data, production and strategy, our offering is deeply committed to unlock the full potential of Influence. Our global team is encouraged to change the status quo, to lead from the front, to question the norm and always level up the standard. I am excited to see the impact these synergies will have and where this will take us.

How can Campaygn, YKONE’s in-house digital platform, meet the unique challenges of the UK market?

UK has always been one step ahead when it comes to Influence, yet there are still challenges related to building effective attribution measurement models as the medium continues to evolve its role within the marketing ecosystem. Comparing effectiveness and understanding the true impact within the competitive landscape is another common challenge amongst clients.
While content may resonate and produce positive results, the key question remains: What does this really mean for business impact and share of voice? What sets Campaygn apart is the robust predictive analytics and competitor effectiveness benchmarks, completely tailored to the brand’s unique and ever evolving measurement framework priorities, unlike any other platforms. This is particularly pivotal in the UK, where the influencer scope is constantly evolving across a brand’s offering. What I am particularly excited about is Campaygn’s capability to track real-time social metrics, which means we can quickly adapt to trends and consumer behaviors, a strong competitive advantage in a market where the digital landscape is evolving so rapidly.

Finally, could you tell us a bit more about your background and how it has prepared you for this role?
When I started my career, I definitely didn’t anticipate just how huge the industry was going to be, having focussed the first years of my career in fashion brand management. The impact and immense power Influence has is something I’ve experienced first hand over time, as the entire social landscape was in a constant state of trial, error and triumph (To put in perspective, back at that time TikTok did not exist yet). I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship since I was young, and pivoted to social as soon as I had an opportunity.

I started my first agency business at 22 shortly after graduating, and a few years later joined the founding team of an Influence-born start up agency when moving to London nearly 10 years ago. This wasn’t too long ago – circa 2017 – when Influence was seen as the “fad” that would never catch on. Fast forward a few years, the impact and disruption coming from social and influencers became a driving force, and the agency was ultimately acquired by a large investment group in 2021. The journey of navigating a rapidly growing industry whilst scaling up a business at a global level has been one of constant learning and adaptation, unparalleled tenacity, and single mission to drive meaningful impact in this space. I’ve had the privilege to have been trusted to shape the Influence proposition of global clients across various sectors such as Chopard, Hyundai, Porsche, Bumble, LIONSGATE+, Tangle Teezer, Deliveroo, and Unilever Prestige, and some of the campaigns have broken new ground in the UK, such as Bumble Black Love, leveraging cultural relevance and data insight to achieve remarkable results. This depth of experience has equipped me with a solid understanding of the landscape, making this move as an intuitive next step in my career after building a strong previous foundation. Having seen the industry grow from strength to strength in front of my eyes, I am passionate about the impact this evolving field can have for our clients, and I am committed to growing and developing the industry further by joining forces with Ykone to consolidate the global expansion in the UK. It’s a crucial time to be in the Influence space, and as the medium grows, I’m excited to be at its forefront and drive transformation and real impact to our clients.

ABOUT YKONE

Founded in 2008 by Olivier Billon, YKONE stands as the leading international influencer marketing agency, dedicated exclusively to global brands in the luxury, beauty, fashion, travel, and lifestyle sectors. With its footprint spanning 18 major cities across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States, YKONE employs a dynamic team of over 300 professionals worldwide. From Paris to Las Vegas, Milan to Dubai, Hong Kong to Singapore, and now Mumbai, the agency’s network of influencer marketing specialists operates on a global scale, generating $84 million in revenue in 2023.

Since its launch, YKONE has seen rapid growth from evolving its Influence-first proposition to integrated services. The group’s extended capabilities combining strategy, data-led intelligence through its proprietary technology (Campaygn), in-house production (Oddly), talent management (BOLD), are setting a new standard in the industry, delivering localised cultural expertise with global impact for leading brand. Today, YKONE delivers a holistic 360° approach to influencer marketing, distinguished by its unparalleled capability to integrate influencers across all brand touchpoints.

GLOBAL MEDIA CONTACT
Youna Strowski de Lenka
youna@ykone.com
+33 6 69 93 37 51

LONDON CONTACT
Paula Albuquerque
paula@ykone.com

Header photo credits: Marcin Nowak