Innovation In Marketing: How Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Harnesses Celebrity And Social Media

Entrepreneur Alejandro Betancourt Lopez has worn many hats while amassing his astounding net worth of $2.6 billion.

Some seem par for the course for a businessman billionaire, like toiling as a trader in the financial, agricultural, and real estate sectors and in high-level roles for international petroleum solutions provider ICC-OEOC, electric power provider BGB Energy, and as the controlling partner of private equity concern the O’Hara Administration.

Want more? He’s the largest shareholder and director of BDK Financial Group/Banque de Dakar and is involved with several different internet and mobile technology-driven business ventures, including the digital employment app JobandTalent and the ridesharing company Auro Travel.

So it might come as a surprise that Betancourt Lopez is probably best known for his work in the fashion accessory sector with the leading sunglasses brand Hawkers.

Hawkers’ successful business model is centered around keeping its sunglasses reasonably priced while offering the trendy designs and exceptional craftsmanship that most people associate with extremely expensive luxury brands like Prada and Gucci.

But even that innovative model might not have been as wildly successful as it is today without Alejandro Betancourt Lopez’s outside-the-box approach to marketing.

When I joined Hawkers, we were a company of 40 people,” he shares. “Today, we employ more than 500 people. We have about 80 stores alone in Spain. We have a huge division of wholesale. And of course, the online nature of the company, which is where the company was born, employs about a hundred people alone. So we have grown, not only in countries and presence in different jurisdictions, but also in the amount of people and families we employ, and we provide services to.

How did he do it? Betancourt Lopez tapped into the emerging field of social media influencers, partnering with young people to sell to their peers.

He even lassoed a few celebrities into the mix like singer Usher, model Paula Echevarria, and auto racer Felipe Massa, who were all snapped by paparazzi wearing a shiny, new pair of Hawkers. And it worked.

Innovation Marketing Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Harnesses Celebrity Social Media


A Hawk-Eyed Take

When Hawkers first caught Alejandro Betancourt Lopez’s attention, the company was in a rather precarious position. While its limited manufacturing capabilities and basic marketing efforts had carried it well through its first few years of operation, Hawkers found itself at a dangerous crossroads.

Hawkers was in desperate need of scaling up to keep pace with rapidly rising consumer demand. While it was taking in millions in monthly sales revenue, it was unable to facilitate the substantial infrastructure upgrades that it needed to invest in its future.

Betancourt Lopez partnered with Hawkers in 2015 and became its board chair and largest shareholder in 2016. Under his leadership, the company went on to become one of the most powerful and influential forces in the modern sunglass market.

This turnaround exemplifies Betancourt Lopez’s fundamental belief in balancing realism with optimism across all his business activities. “Nothing at all is easy,” he admits. “Even if the idea is great, even if you have the right people, and even if everything is aligned, it will always surprise you with different things that are not expected. And you have to be there to make sure that you push through to keep everybody working, to keep everybody focused, and to keep everybody creative, evolving, and innovating.

Determined to transform Hawkers into the global sunglasses industry leader that it is today, Betancourt Lopez gathered a group of investors to deliver a critical capital influx of $56 million.

This substantial round of funding allowed Hawkers to bring its operations to a scale that enabled it to meet its rapidly growing customer demand.

When asked if he was currently doing anything to position Hawkers for growth, Betancourt Lopez shares that the company is expanding its celebrity partnerships. “We’re doing a lot of branding. We just launched a very successful campaign with Manu Manzo, who is a very big Latin singer,” he reports. “It has been a huge success. We’re jumping more into using marketing with celebrities more than influencers. The celebrities we have worked with have allowed us to change with the public appetite and taste in different sectors of demand.

The fundamental goal of a marketing campaign, according to Alejandro Betancourt Lopez is getting a consumer to wonder what is “going on” with a brand. Sharing celebrity partnerships through social media is a great way to accomplish this. “Consumers have discovered that there has been a lot of collaboration between various celebrities and the Hawkers brand,” says Betancourt Lopez.

Innovation In Marketing – Going Viral

While online content can go viral through social media, the average social media marketing initiatives often take a while to catch on. Hawkers’ celebrity partnerships are no exception.

However, over time, the company’s affiliations have had a cumulative effect. Betancourt Lopez explains, “It was not only one thing, or one post made out there. It was a continuously developing working relationship that made us achieve a big audience with a branding campaign that brought a lot of sales conversions. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Not only growing through pure social media advertising, but by creating larger campaigns that can build lasting awareness and bring coolness to the brand. That’s something that we’re finding to be very effective, and we’re going to continue to build on it.

Although Hawkers is currently leaning more heavily on partnerships with celebrities and less heavily on partnerships with influencers, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez maintains a strong dose of each in his preferred marketing mix. Determining the precise percentages of this mélange can be tricky and, in the words of Betancourt Lopez, “very volatile and very dynamic.

After all, market conditions and consumer tastes can change quite rapidly. “The key to success is knowing where demand creation is strongest and associating at the right moment and place with celebrities or influencers who bring value to a collaboration,” says Betancourt Lopez. “The key to success is identifying exactly what strategy to implement at the right moment.

Innovation Marketing Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Harnesses Celebrity Social Media


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