Adwoa Aboah balances style credentials and social consciousness

IN THE MONTH OF POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION, a new power list revealed this week has given us reason to take heart. It’s no surprise that Bella Hadid has beaten big sister Gigi into third place on social-media strategists Celebrity Intelligence’s ranking of Top Endorsers of 2017, counting campaigns for Versace, Fendi, Bulgari and Giuseppe Zanotti among the 14 new deals she’s inked that helped her climb up seven places to the top spot. Yet Hadids aside, there were some unlikely new entries, including rappers Snoop Dogg and A$AP Rocky and EDM DJ Steve Aoki. Sarah Mawson, Celebrity Editor of Celebrity Intelligence, isn’t surprised. “Musicians and rappers are always going to be popular for brands. They have huge social followings and high engagement rates. They also tend to be more outspoken and sometimes controversial than other celebrities, which is perfect if your brand is looking to create conversations and cause a bit of stir within the industry.”

Brands are hoping to tap into Taylor Hill’s teen Insta following

However, thanks to Model of the Year Adwoa Aboah, and American actress Yara Shahidi making the list for the first time, we’re seeing the rise of staying woke. As well as clocking up campaigns for Miu Miu and Gap, last year saw Adwoa, 25, turn Gurls Talk, her online female forum devoted to empowerment, self-care, and community, into a festival. Similarly, in addition to her work with America Eagle Outfitters and Converse, Blackish star Yara launched 18 by 18, a charitable initiative seeking to educate teens who will turn 18 before the next elections about political issues.

Snoop’s combined following of 80m earned him his place on the list

“Celebrities are more politically involved than ever at the moment and I believe they will look to partner with brands that can help them share their views and raise awareness of causes they are passionate about,” Sarah confirms. “Consumers are looking to engage with brands that are doing more than just providing a product or service.” But be warned. “Brands should be careful to partner with celebrities whose views align with theirs, as making the wrong decision could cause consumers to mistrust them.”

W Hotels made Joan Smalls their Global Fashion Innovator

Despite the public backlash to her Pepsi commercial which was eventually pulled, new contracts with adidas and Alexander Wang helped Kendall Jenner move up one place to number two on the list. “I don’t think the Pepsi controversy will cause long-term damage to Kendall,” Sarah states. “She is someone who is always going to be desirable to brands because of her social reach and engagement,” referring to Kendall’s 86.3m followers on Instagram and 25.9m followers on Twitter. “I think it will cause brands and talent to think more carefully about the campaigns they undertake in the future, though. Consumers are extremely savvy and aren’t afraid to call out brands and talent who are engaging in behaviour and campaigns that are problematic, so brands will have to undertake more research to ensure the partnerships they make are as authentic as possible.”

Slick Woods is a fave with Jeremy Scott and Fenty by Puma

Alexa Chung, Jourdan Dunn, Cara Delevingne and last year’s top endorser Hailey Baldwin might prefer to look away now as they’ve all fallen off the list completely, leaving room for new names such as Sofia Richie, Taylor Hill, Jasmine Sanders and Slick Woods. Sarah explains, “Alexa Chung has very much been focused on building her own brand which officially launched in May 2017, which explains why her partnerships with other brands are down. Similarly, Jourdan Dunn launched her own clothing range, LON DUNN and so has been focused on that.” Sarah adds, “While Cara Delevingne and Hailey Baldwin still remain fairly popular with brands, they just did not score the numbers they did in 2016. This could be because they’ve decided to be more selective. Cara has also spoken about how she would like to focus more on her acting career than modelling, and so that could be one of the reasons why she had fewer endorsements in 2017 and is only doing bigger, more long-term brand contracts.”

Just imagine how Yara Shahidi will change the world once she hits Harvard next year?

Finally, reports of the death of the influencer have been greatly exaggerated. “The trend for socialmedia influencers is definitely not slowing down, rather brands are finding more ways to integrate influencers and more traditional celebrities within the same campaign,” observes Sarah. “Going forward we can expect to see influencers and celebrities sharing the brand space.” Let’s hope it’s a space that continues to put causes before content.

DJ Steve Aoki has remixed playlists for Zumba workouts. Postcake, presumably

Photos: Getty Images