I am here to introduce you to Gerald Stratford, the man with the greatest account on Twitter.
Gerald is, in his own words, a ‘retired fisherman and gardener heavy into growing big veg’. Based in the Cotswolds, he has gained a huge following on Twitter, where he regularly posts photos and videos of himself reaping and sowing a variety of different large vegetables.
I am not a gardener and in fact, prior to discovering Gerald’s account, I still held a grudge against gardening for the hours of my youth it took away from me when my parents would drag me out of my bedroom to earn my keep pulling up weeds in the back garden. However, his Twitter feed is enough to give the biggest gardening sceptic a green thumb.
During a year of lockdowns, I have found it very hard to stay off my phone and, with Twitter awash with bleak news and vacuous discourse, at times it has felt like social media is slowly rotting my brain. Amidst all this, Gerald is a reminder of how great social media can really be.
His content is so nourishing and his message so simple and positive that it is impossible not to be enthralled. He is just a lovely man who wants to connect with people and share both his harvests and his knowledge with the world.
What is so amazing about this is how many people he has been able to connect with. As of writing this, Gerald has 280,000 followers on Twitter, and just weeks ago he featured in an unlikely sponsored campaign with Gucci.
For a profile piece in Highsnobiety, a prominent streetwear blog, Gucci sent a group of models to his allotment to promote their Off The Grid collection, an environmentally-friendly line made using recycled materials.
It’s a bizarre crossover but it works, as shots of Gerald in his allotment surrounded by Gucci-clad twenty-somethings accompany a long-form piece chronicling his rise to internet fame and his top gardening tips.
The reason it works for me is because of the strength of the connection that Gerald has formed with his audience, a connection that I personally don’t believe I could form with a traditional celebrity.
Despite the fact that the audience is well aware that Gerald likely has no real attachment to Gucci, the content nonetheless comes across as genuine; it feels less like a cynical brand deal and more like seeing your friend receive a well-deserved bonus.
When you hear the word ‘influencer’, a retired gardener may not be the first thing that comes to mind; there is a tendency to think of young, tanned fitness models promoting dubious teas on Instagram and, with recent headlines about the tribe of influencers taking essential trips to Dubai during the pandemic, their stock isn’t particularly high.
However, in Gerald, we have an example of just how powerful influencers can be for brands. An expert in his sector, adored by thousands of people passionate about this one specific niche, the connection that influencers like him have with their followers allows brands to soak up goodwill by association, without it coming across as fake or tacky.
Of course, the influencer chosen has to match the audience the brand is aiming to target, so it's not as simple as throwing money at anybody with a large Twitter following. With that being said, to any major marketing executives reading this, of which I’m sure there are countless, my advice would be to blow the budget on Gerald - anyone who does so will have my support for life. Cheers!
“It's a worrying time for the whole world, and people don't need negativity. You turn the television on for the news and there's so much doom and gloom. That's okay to a point, but if you have it every hour, every day, every week, it can create a problem, and this world needs happiness, it needs a smile. We need to smile. There's an old saying: You laugh, and the whole world laughs with you. You cry, and you cry alone.”