Permele Doyle has been in the throes of influencer marketing since the early days, when she was pairing brands and bloggers at Tom Ford Beauty. Fast forward and her global agency, Billion Dollar Boy, fosters partnerships between top brands and creators, with a strategy informed by their proprietary technology. She takes the same thoughtful approach with her company culture, having recently implemented a new family leave policy that supports the well-being of her team. Read on for her take on the fast-paced influencer marketing landscape, the principles that withstand passing trends and her advice for women starting out in the business today.
Tell us about your career before co-founding Billion Dollar Boy.
I began my career at Estée Lauder Companies working in global communications for Tom Ford Beauty. I joined in 2010 when the brand felt like a start-up and left in 2015 when it had become a highly profitable powerhouse beauty brand. It was exciting to be part of that evolution. It was a tough first job – very demanding with a small team but I learned so much.
As a team of two, I was exposed to an enormous amount – helping to execute a wide array of PR and marketing activities: international press trips, fashion week events, product launches. It really helped me understand the inner workings of a brand. In this role, it dawned on me how much potential there was in brands capitalizing on social media. We ran the brand’s first influencer campaign (at that time known as a “blogger”) for a collection of lipsticks – “Lips and Boys” – where I sent the lipsticks to women who had men in their life who shared the name of the lipstick shades. The influencers shared the campaign on Instagram in droves, and that’s what got me excited about the potential for an agency focused on influencer marketing. It was daunting to leave the corporate world with lots of perks (and so many products…!) but it was the best risk I have ever taken.
With the rise of new platforms and a fast-paced social landscape, how has the agency evolved since its launch in 2014?
It has evolved literally every week – which keeps it interesting. I went on holiday for a week this summer and Threads launched!
When we first started, I told Ed and Thom we needed a niche – we couldn’t be generalists to pique interest – and our initial strategy was specializing in reaching male audiences, as I knew it was a major pain point for brands. That helped get us our foot in the door of some big-name brands like Bentley, Clinique for Men and Bonobos, and then it took off from there. The first big account the agency closed was Garnier in the UK.
We are now over 150 globally, with offices in London, New York and New Orleans and new hubs opening across Europe, too. Today I’m proud to say that we service some of the biggest household brands and cover a vast array of sectors from L’Oreal to Heineken.
Given the fast-paced nature of social media, are there any constants that remain relevant no matter what?
Brand storytelling and quality content will never go out of style. That doesn’t always mean producing polished, ad-like content. As we’ve seen with the rise of TikTok (whereon raw, authentic and organic assets reign supreme), low-fi content that resonates with the audience can easily beat expensive productions.
Your proprietary technology, Companion, sets BDB apart from the rest. What are some benefits brands and creators reap from it?
Companion, our influencer marketing platform, helps us and our partners to manage and track campaigns and analyze creator content.
Within our database, we track content from a large sample of influencers (not just influencers that we work with) which means we can use this to find interesting data insights and trends.
What sets Companion apart is that it’s informed by people actually managing influencer programs. By adding human insight to the automated elements of the platform, we can provide a more detailed analysis of creator content. Our clients also love that it’s customizable, so they can add or remove different tiers of data depending on their individual needs.
We heard your company rolled out a new family leave policy. What does it look like, and what inspired it?
I had my first son, William, in 2021 and everything changed. I was tasked to create our policy before I had lived and understood what it was like to be a parent, and it was really challenging to come back to work at the time I did – though I was too afraid to admit it. I was honored to have the opportunity to re-shape our Paid Family Leave policy this year, after doing extensive research and speaking to parents and business owners. I wrote an op-ed about it for Thrive Global, green-lit by the incredible Arianna Huffington. I didn’t want my team to suffer the way I had, and wanted to be as generous as a relatively small business could possibly be in supporting our team.
I don’t want to lose our brilliant talent – the majority of whom in the US are women considering starting families. I don’t want them to have to choose between being a parent or working – I want them to be able to do both. It's so important to foster a culture that supports that and offers more flexibility beyond birth but throughout parenthood. I didn’t have the courage to be more open about motherhood in the early days and realized I was doing my team a disservice. Now, I try to share more.
Our new policy offers 16 weeks of full paid for primary caregiver, and eight weeks part-time at full-time – going beyond the US standard of 0-12 weeks of paid maternity leave. We’ve combined that with a supportive return to work plan, and an option for a further two additional months unpaid for those who need more time.
I had the huge pleasure of recently partnering with Paid Leave for All x Glamour on their initiative to get a US federal bill passed allowing paid leave for every working person. We tapped into our expertise and creator network to engage their audiences and drive action getting signatures on the petition. It was so inspiring to get huge voices such as Eva Chen, Hannah Bronfman and Katie Sturiono to participate. We’ve driven over 5k signatures from their posts so far.
Company culture is clearly important to you. How does this impact not only your company morale, but the creators you work with? What can agency/brand leaders take away from this?
My partner, Ed, has a strong vision for us to set a new standard for the advertising agency. We very much want to take a stance supporting the creators we work with by offering them resources. Creators have been commoditized in many ways. We have an exciting new venture around this which we will be launching soon…
Culture is so important and it can be a challenge for a global company to instill overall company culture but stay true to your market and embrace the local nuances.
What keeps you inspired and engaged professionally?
I love brands. Figuring out what stories brands are trying to tell and why it appeals to me. Buying into a brand is a reflection of self, how you define yourself and who you aspire to be. To me that choice is fascinating. So I love getting to work with top brands and some brands I personally love and I enjoy weighing in on creative strategy for those brands.
I also believe strongly in creators and the creator economy – representing the new distribution and power of individual voices and their amazing content creation abilities.
Ultimately, it’s our team who really keeps me engaged. It’s an exceptional group of people and I’m really proud of the team in the US we have cultivated over the past 8 years. The majority is made up of women and it’s a privilege to support them and provide them with the best working environment and opportunities I can.
What are a few local spots you frequent?
New York: I can’t keep up with new spots so am loyal to old favorites including Sant Ambroeus, Le Charlot and Indochine.
New Orleans: You can find me at the Hotel Saint Vincent at least 2-3 times a week, as well as lunch at Lillete every week.
Do you have any predictions on where influencer marketing is heading through the rest of this year?
I believe we will see more creator-led strategies used for a greater variety of marketing tactics, including across more mainstream media channels like OOH and TV and the creator will be brought into the marketing planning earlier rather than later.
We are also likely to witness a return to earned media next year. Embracing new platforms and technologies such as AI remains a question mark, but we’ve been really excited to already start testing it with our clients.
As a female founder, what advice would you impart on someone working in influencer marketing or even starting their own agency?
One reason I love influencer marketing as an industry is that it is a rare female-powered business – both on the creator and the brand/agency side. But man, it is still hard to be a working woman and especially a working mom. I think acknowledging that it is hard is helpful; it’s not as easy or pretty as it can appear on Instagram (as someone even in the business of selling on Instagram, I have to remind myself!). If we can all be more open about the challenges, we can begin to better support each other.
My other advice is to really advocate for yourself. It’s hard to be heard in a room full of men, which can still be the norm in advertising and across our industry. Keep standing up for yourself.
Marie ClaireView Profile
b.good PRView Profile
SEEN GroupView Profile
Alpha KiloView Profile
Carfrae ConsultingView Profile
The Brandman AgencyView Profile
Functional Creative DesignView Profile
Factory PRView Profile
Nike CommunicationsView Profile
Emily P. WheelerView Profile
Simmons PRView Profile
Brandstyle CommunicationsView Profile
The Communications BureauView Profile
The A ListView Profile
Laura NeilsonView Profile
Apollo TheaterView Profile
The Communications StoreView Profile
NJF an MMGY Global CompanyView Profile
Di Petroff PRView Profile
Cultural CounselView Profile
J Public RelationsView Profile
Gia Kuan ConsultingView Profile
Stylists to a TView Profile
Pineapple Co / MKGView Profile
Magrino AgencyView Profile
Claur Magazine & Creative AgencyView Profile
Black FrameView Profile
Linda Gaunt CommunicationsView Profile
Kate SpadeView Profile
alice + oliviaView Profile
Small Luxury Hotels of the WorldView Profile
Six One AgencyView Profile
Ron Wendt DesignView Profile
Catherine Miran Press OfficeView Profile
Wednesday AgencyView Profile
Elliot CarlyleView Profile
Bacchus AgencyView Profile
IRO PARISView Profile
The 5th ColumnView Profile
MMGY WagstaffView Profile
PK PR & BRANDINGView Profile
Jenelle Hamilton Inc.View Profile
KWT GlobalView Profile
LFB Media Group, BMF MediaView Profile
Battalion PRView Profile
Small Girls PRView Profile
Lesley Vecsler CommunicationsView Profile
The Select 7View Profile
Black Flower AgencyView Profile
Alison Brod Marketing + CommunicationsView Profile
Whitney Museum of American ArtView Profile
Nike CommunicationsView Profile
Little GemView Profile
Modern LuxuryView Profile
Preferred Hotels & ResortsView Profile
Rachel Cole Art AdvisoryView Profile
Parasol MarketingView Profile
General MotorsView Profile
Relevance InternationalView Profile
Paul Wilmot CommunicationsView Profile
Care of ChanView Profile
Brandstyle CommunicationsView Profile
The GatheryView Profile
Van Wyck & Van WyckView Profile
Bullfrog + BaumView Profile
Meg Connolly CommunicationsView Profile
CJC InsightsView Profile
The Berman GroupView Profile
Modern LuxuryView Profile
THE CONSULTANCY PRView Profile
No. 29 CommunicationsView Profile
BICOM CommunicationsView Profile
Walker DrawasView Profile
Quinn PRView Profile
Soho House & Co.View Profile
Eddie ZaratsianView Profile
The Flair IndexView Profile