Monaco Influencer Awards 2018
Words by Viktorija Pashuta
For centuries, the mere mention of Monaco has inspired images of luxury, glamour, excitement and leisure. Every year, thousands of visitors from around the world are drawn to Monaco’s sublime Mediterranean climate to indulge in the opulent lifestyle and experience. It reigns as the most expensive market in the world and is known for its Royal history and lavish tendencies. It is a cornerstone for a glamorous Riviera lifestyle where the rich and famous indulge in the belle époque casinos at the bustling casino square, where women are adorned in diamonds and gentlemen are living the dream. From its towering cliffs, glorious harbors and luxurious hotels, the city is known for world class entertainment and sporting events like Rolex Tennis Master Series and its annual Formula One Grand Prix.
To add to its impressive portfolio of events, Monaco has hosted its very first Influencer Awards of 2018 (IAM for short) dedicated to the top influencers around the world. The event has undeniably set the tone as the ‘Oscars of Digital World,’ welcoming the most influential talents of the web to join forces for an unforgettable weekend. Upon arrival, VIP guests were helicoptered into Monaco from Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport and treated with utmost royal hospitality at five-star hotels. Taking place on the 6th and 7th of October, the two-day event was packed with an astonishing agenda, ranging from visits to the Royal Palace, grand dinners and wild after parties.
“This event joins the list of world–class events held in Monaco and on a global scale, the first of its kind,” says Maureen Kragt, IAM PR Specialist. “The Monarchy demonstrated their commitment to forward thinking by having Pauline Ducruet as our ambassador and host of the event.” Pauline Ducruet, the granddaughter of legendary Grace Kelly, is a young entrepreneur, President of the Jury and an honoree team member of IAM. Pauline is no stranger to the digital and fashion worlds. She graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York and is creating her own clothing line that is on the verge of making its public debut. “It’s a big year for me as I am developing a new line, with first pieces to come out early 2019,” says Ducruet. “It is going to be a casual unisex brand. I love to go to men stores and wear oversized shirts. We have more freedom to do what we want, and it’s OK to do whatever you want in fashion; it’s self-expression. It’s important to feel comfortable and good with yourself. That way, you can give personality to your clothes and it’s not the other way around.”
“This is a beginning of a new era,” says Kragt. “This event is more of a necessity where the generation of our time is getting recognized for the impact they have on the modern society.”– Maureen Kragt
The beautiful production of the event was backed by an exceptional team, but how did it all start? The original idea of the Influencer Awards was created by Lolita Abraham, a leader of IAM’s business development department who brought her partners on board for this big adventure. The team included Pauline Ducruet (President of the Jury and IAM Ambassador), Thomas Peters (Head of Operations), Maxime Giaccardi (Head of Sales) and Maureen Kragt (Head of Public Relations). “We are a very good team,” says Abraham. “We are very complimentary to each other. This year we did the Influencer Awards in Monaco, but we will be launching more award events in key cities around the world to have a global impact.”]
Being born into the fashion industry and surrounded by leading entrepreneurs at a young age, it’s no surprise Abraham has taken such great strides to power this next-generation machine. After graduating from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, she launched her own children’s clothing line and designed private labels for brands in the United States, Russia and Spain. And thanks to her creative personality and vigor for innovation, she envisioned new shopping experiences for concept stores throughout Asia.
“I used to have my own blog and I have always wanted to work with influencers,” says Abraham. “I tried to imagine what I could do with them. And then I had this idea to create the Influencer Awards, where I could invite all of them from all over the world to Monaco. The goal was to show the world that it is a real job to be an influencer and if you do it right, you can do fantastic things. We want to show to the world that if influencer is used correctly, they can influence and have a huge impact.”
A fitness influencer and winner of the IAM Fitness category, Jen Selter, spoke about her experience as an influencer and the importance of distinguishing yourself in such a saturated market. “You have to pick and choose to be different,” she says. “I don’t advertise everything that comes my way, only products that I genuinely love. There are still so many people joining the platform. When I first started, there were only 10 fitness people. Now there are 20 million, which is awesome, but again, how can you follow everyone? It’s important to be true to your fans and followers, keeping it real.”
And that is exactly what the influencers did. The star of the event was undeniably funny. Going by the name Sul or @justsul, the influencer has become an instant viral sensation famous for his grotesque jokes on Instagram. His sense of humor has garnered a devoted army of followers where he addresses them as “motherfuckers.” At the IAM event, Sul was humbly taking pictures with strangers and signing autographs straight upon his arrival to the hotel. The welcome dinner was hosted at COYA and followed by a party at Jimmy’z, Monte-Carlo’s temple of clubbing. “We know everyone from the digital world and online,” says Ducruet. “It was really nice to meet everyone here in Monaco and in person.”
To learn more about the power team behind the Influencer Awards, we spoke to Maureen Kragt, the public relations force at IAM. Kragt was raised in Monaco, where she now splits her time between London and Los Angeles as a visual content creator and freelance writer. After finishing her studies in criminology and criminal justice, Kragt started blogging as a hobby. Today, she runs a full-time blog and travels the world, absorbing trends and building her own identity that shines through her social media platforms. Her love affair with fashion started at a very young age where she was driven by many of what are considered Hollywood icons, like their very own Princess Grace Kelly. She was inspired by Edie Sedgwick, the well-known muse of Andy Warhol, Twiggy and Jackie Onassis, a regular on the beaches of Monte Carlo.
“For me, influencers have always been around, but we simply just didn’t label them as such at the time,” says Kragt. “Having witnessed the birth of the online era, we are now seeing the important shift in digital careers. Influencers are the new architects shaping consumer marketing. They are the new voices of influence, the voices of “truth” marketing. A project like the Influencer Awards pays tribute to their hard work. With the internet being a treasure trove of content, it can be quite a challenge to make your mark. This award ceremony singles out the leading influencers in their respective fields.”
The awards jury consisted of high-profile judges representing various industries such as Pauline Ducruet, Jonathan Teo, a leading investor in Silicon Valley and lender to companies including Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, Mickey Boardman, editorial director and advice columnist for PAPER Magazine and cultural commentator, lifestyle expert and fashion guru for networks like VH-1, A&E, CNN, Style Channel, E! and Fox News, and lastly, Hofit Golan, Israeli supermodel, television presenter, producer and entrepreneur.
But how would you even judge an influencer? “We pay more attention to how good they are with their community, what impact they have in our lives, and we also judge from an aesthetical point-of-view,” says Ducruet. “How visual their page is, the consistency of their content.” In addition, the jury checked nominees for fake followers and engagement rates, ensuring fluent and genuine conversations amongst users and influencers.
IAM is a made-in Monaco event and trend to become part of the Monaco’s agenda for years to come. Attended by influencers, high-profile guests and press from around the world, the event made a distinct statement. “This is a beginning of a new era,” says Kragt. “This event is more of a necessity where the generation of our time is getting recognized for the impact they have on the modern society. We will be very much looking forward to the next events to come and to motivate those who deserve recognition and acknowledgement.”
PRIZE-WINNERS MONACO INFLUENCER AWARDS 2018:
Order a Print Copy of Issue 9 Here.