NEW YORK: Brands such as Target and Band Aid are moving beyond simple transactional interactions with influencers, which can be fraught with issues around brand safety and transparency, to develop longer term relationships that can include product design.

Band Aid, the Johnson & Johnson-owned first aid product, has worked with lifestyle blogger Joy Cho of Oh Joy! over the past three years, a collaboration that has seen the latter help create bandages with playful, colorful designs that she has promoted to her 382,000 Instagram followers.

It’s an approach replicated with other brands in the J&J portfolio and one that “has resulted in a better quality of content that is being produced by the influencers and contributed to a higher level of engagement with consumers”, a spokesperson told Adweek.

Target’s children’s apparel line Art Class is designed for children by children, including teenage influencers Loren Gray (6.5m Instagram followers) and Nia Sioux (4.5m Instagram followers), who have played a marketing role in relaying details to their fans of how they worked with the retailer.

In the UK, multivitamin fruit drink Purdey’s has recruited Idris Elba on a three-year partnership where the actor is financially rewarded on the success and the growth of the brand.

“Collaboration is critical,” said Jessica Clifton, US managing director, strategic growth and development at Edelman.

“While the brands have to be comfortable giving up some power to the influencer so they can speak and operate in their own style, we’re seeing the benefit of true collaborations that result in long-term relationships, not one-off transactions.”

Noah Mallin, managing partner and head of media agency MEC Wavemaker, described the trend as “a flight to quality” as brands seek to “make sure what they are paying for has an impact and is brand safe”.

Not only that, but closer working partnerships significantly reduce the chances of breaching FTC Endorsement Guides. The government agency recently sent warning letters to 21 social users with large Instagram followings about their failure to disclose endorsement relationships with brands.

“Deceptive influencer endorsements are an FTC top priority,” Allison Fitzpatrick, partner at law firm Davis & Gilbert, told Digiday, although she added that the FTC is flexible about how such connections are disclosed and understands that in high-profile cases – like Nike’s relationship with Tiger Woods – they are always needed.

Data sourced from Adweek, Digiday; additional content by WARC staff