Rocketfuel aims to ignite influencer marketing

  • Looking for local and regional influencers and artists to take global
  • Digital presence is key to success in today’s world


Rocketfuel aims to ignite influencer marketing


NEW Malaysia-based entertainment startup Rocketfuel Entertainment officially revealed its talent roster and plans to become a global entertainment talent house on Oct 26.

The startup plans to do this through the influencer marketing space, leveraging on its line-up of big talents and what it calls a holistic approach to talent management and talent-driven digital content.

Rocketfuel’s entertainment vice president, called the Admiral, Murali ‘Moots’ Marimuthu says that the current approach to influencer marketing is fragmented, which is why Rocketfuel aims to take a more cohesive approach to marketing in this space.

“We are a laser-focused entertainment talent house that offers marketers the most influential brand ambassadors with the widest reach on digital platforms and social media,” he says.

Rocketfuel is a breakaway business from Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd. Previously the talent management segment of the media giant, the decision was made this year to create an independent startup for talent management and digital content creation, and incorporate already established independent music label Rocketfuel Records.

Astro’s chief operating officer Henry Tan says that Astro is truly excited about the potential of Rocketfuel and its work in the digital content space.

“We’re setting [Rocketfuel] free to go out there and do it all, create all kinds of content and events, serve every sector of the industry,” he says.

The three divisions within Rocketfuel – Rocketfuel Talent (talent management for movie, television and radio talent), Rocketfuel Records (music recording and publishing) and Rocketfuel Network (digital content creation) work collaboratively with each other to strategise and execute influencer marketing campaigns for brands featuring its talents.

Services for brands include branded content, social media marketing, video production, endorsements, intellectual property creation and talent management.

Instead of looking to monopolise the industry, Moots says that Rocketfuel believes in collaborations and partnerships.

Astro Radio CEO Jake Abdullah adds that because Rocketfuel is an independent startup, it will work with other media giants, even Astro’s competitor Media Prima.

Weighing in on Rocketfuel, Yuhwen Foong, CEO of influencer marketing platform SushiVid says that those in the industry should try to grow the industry and build standards around influencer marketing and creators, which is why SushiVid is looking forward to working with Rocketfuel.

As for whether Rocketfuel is competition, Foong says that while there are some parts of the business that are competition, she believes that it will be more complimentary.

“To me Rocketfuel influencers are the head of the animal while SushiVid influencers are the long tail. Their influencers are good at awareness with less engagement while ours are good at engagement and moving consumers closer to the purchase intent. They work on differing objectives.”

Creating a global company

The startup is a few months old but because of its ties with Astro it already has 125 talents on its talent roster, most of whom (about 100) are radio and television talents across Astro’s radio and television network. It has a few movie actors, including big-name stars Lisa Surihani and Aaron Aziz who are widely popular in Malaysia and Singapore.

It has about a score of digital content creators and singers whose popularity is steadily increasing with the wider public.

A significant number of Rocketfuel’s new talent sign-ups are what it refers to as ‘360 talents’, meaning they act, sing, create their own digital content and are influencers in the digital entertainment space. The startup’s first regional sign-up, Thai YouTube personality Chaleeda Gilbert, is one such talent.

“We are building a regional footprint. Chaleeda is the first regional artist we’ve signed in Southeast Asia, and we are planning to sign more within the region. Our aspiration is to create global stars,” says Moots.

Malaysians are traditionally sceptical of Malaysian talents making it big in the rest of the world but Jake says that instead of trying to make an international act out of somebody from Malaysia, Rocketfuel is looking for talent that is global.

“We are looking for and finding good talent from anywhere in the world. So, we are making a Malaysian company international. And because we are digital, we are borderless,” he said.

He adds that nowadays, entertainment talent means something different from what it used to.

“We are talking about below the line [production] – people on Instagram, YouTube. That’s where we are looking.”

Digital success

In terms of revenue, besides the talent management and music production, Rocketfuel monetises digital and social media platforms through branded content. One of its first such campaigns took a more traditional approach - matching beverage brand Marigold with Lisa Surihani for television content. One of its latest campaigns is with actor Zizan Razak and sports brand New Balance on social media platforms.

According to Jake, talents who are on traditional platforms as well as digital-only talents have been approached by brands to create digital content for marketing, including local YouTube puppet comedian Harry Kok Siew Yok.

Though there may be concerns non-digital talents getting into the digital space and creating a successful social media presence, Rocketfuel is on hand to assist its talents to do just this. As for concerns about authenticity, this is not seen as a problem by Rocketfuel.

In Foong’s opinion, digital success and remaining authentic depends on the individual. “We've seen amazing celebrities who are very active on their social media and remain largely relevant. Then there are those whose social media is managed by someone else and they become distant and the content becomes less engaging.”

Foong says digital is for everyone who embraces it, but she believes mainstream talents have to step up their game to be a lot more independent and creative.

“With digital, you’re on your own without a script. It’s really hard. I think it will challenge their creativity quite a bit but with time everyone will get the hang of it.”

In terms of creating digital content, Rocketfuel is focused on created short-form content for alternative media, though it does also create long-form and factual content.

Jake explained that Rocketfuel is taking a reverse engineering approach. “It’s great if a talent because big and goes mainstream but we are not focused on that approach. We are focused on people and how they are creating and consuming media – digitally. That’s who we’re doing it for,” he says.

“Today’s world is digital and must be leveraged through the Internet. Rocketfuel is providing a platform to support talents and distribute content around the world. I really think this kind of thing heralds a new era of how we see the potential of our talents to reach out to the world,” says Tan.


Related stories:

Astro receives Digital Transformer Award from IDC Asean

IDC’s Digital Transformation Awards recognises disruptors, innovators

Social entertainment company M17 launches livestreaming in Malaysia, Thailand


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