Director Of Artist Brand Strategy
Having multiple strategies to commercial success has never been more important than in today’s inflationary post-COVID economy. Brands can certainly help with that. But brand campaigns can be far more than just an additional revenue stream, as Irene Agbontaen, Director Of Artist Brand Strategy, UTA, points out: “It allows artists and brands to meet at a cultural junction and find a level footing that works for both.”
One of Agbontaen’s favorite parts of the job is her work around Afrobeats, which, being Nigerian herself, “is a huge part of my culture, and lifestyle.” A stand-out campaign is the collaboration between Burna Boy and UK luxury fashion house Burberry for Christmas 2022. It featured prominently on billboards and banners, and had unique activations at the Burberry store at Terminal 5 of London’s Heathrow airport. “A lot of our flights to Lagos and Ghana leave from there. It was important that our community was able to see the work that we were
doing as well,” she says.
Agbontaen works in a unique space, where music, art and culture intersect. The lines are blurred, but she doesn’t mind at all; on the contrary. When we spoke for this profile, she had just returned from Milan Fashion Week in Italy, buzzing with inspiration. “I live, breathe, sleep, eat music, fashion, art, culture, lifestyle,” she says, adding, “I feel like I’m just one piece of a bigger jigsaw puzzle, and the impact that I’m able to make is for the generations to come. Music and culture and fashion are always evolving.”
Which is one of the reasons she didn’t want to pick the biggest accomplishment of her career just yet, “because I feel like it’s still to come. I remember, 20 years ago, no high-fashion brands wanted to work with music artists, or they would say, ‘That music is too ghetto.’ Now, you look at Fashion Week, and it’s rappers and musicians, who are sitting in the front row.”