2 Minutes With … James Hacking, Founder of Socially Powerful

On how influencers have evolved beyond single-shot ads on social platforms

James is the founder of Socially Powerful, a global agency that delivers campaigns powered by influencer marketing. Its clients include Amazon, TikTok and L'Oréal. James began his entrepreneurial journey as a pioneer of football freestyle content on social media.

We spent two minutes with James to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

James, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in a town in Leicestershire, U.K., called Melton Mowbray. It's famous for pork pies. I currently live in Richmond, West London.

Your earliest sports memory.

My earliest sports memory was when I was about 6 years old. It was the World Cup 1994 final between Italy and Brazil. It was the penalty shootout and Roberto Baggio, Italy's best player, had to score to keep the team in the shootout—and he blazed it over the bar into the stands. Brazil won. After that, I was hooked on football. 

Your favorite sports team(s).

Brentford FC, without a doubt. I follow these guys home and away. The last few seasons have been something of a dream. Watching them play and supporting them from the stands makes me feel like a kid again. 

Your favorite athlete(s).

This is a tough question, as there are so many. I would say Ronaldo. For me, growing up mad about football, he was the icon and the one that changed the game the most during those years. Everything he did, I wanted to do. If it wasn't for his injuries, I would say he would be the greatest striker of all time.

Your favorite sports show or podcast.

Ted Lasso—simply because it's set in Richmond where I live and the plot is hilarious. I also enjoy a lot of the behind-the-scenes coverage of sports teams and individuals like Last Chance U, Full Swing, Drive to Survive and the All Or Nothing series.

Your favorite sports movie and/or video game.

Moneyball. No question. It is a true David vs. Goliath story of the Oakland Athletics, where they used statistical analysis of players. They couldn't compete against the big teams in the league [to sign high-priced talent], but they could find underrated and undervalued players that could get the job done. This is a very similar method that Brentford FC have employed so well over the years to compete against the best teams in the world, all on a shoestring budget. Amazing stuff.

A recent project you're proud of.

The most recent work that I am proud of has to be what we did with Tefal. We took influencer marketing to a new level. The bottom line was 70 million impressions, £182k in sales and a reach of 63 million. I'm proud of this work, not only for these results but because it proves that working with content makers is still a highly influential method of marketing. Influencers have evolved beyond single-shot ads on social platforms. They're smart, engaging and know their communities better than anyone else. This campaign with Tefal proved that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

The Stella Artois campaign "The Artois Probability." The history of Stella Artois dates back to 1366 in Leuven, Belgium. This means there is a chance that the beer portrayed in historical art pieces throughout Europe could be Stella Artois. They analyzed paintings from centuries gone by to determine the probability that the people in the art were drinking Stella. Absolutely incredible.

What sports can do that nothing else can.

It transcends cultures and stereotypes, creating laughter and fun. That's powerful. I'm going to take this from a football angle: Take a group of 10 people from different backgrounds, cultures and languages, put a football in front of them, and watch what happens. Within seconds, you'll see people that have never met before passing the ball to each other, laughing and joking as if they've known each other for decades.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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