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"Dabbing" into Branding with Internet Content Creators

Nichole Francois, Special to Advertising Week

Chances are you’ve seen the video of a couple of friends “dabbing” during the Olympic Games. But who is the guy behind the viral video? That would be Logan Paul, Internet content creator and brand influencer.

During Advertising Week, Marcus Peterzell, EVP of Entertainment at Ketchum, sat down with Logan Paul, actress Meg Ryan, and writer Robert Gordon to discuss how the advertising industry can create content that grows bigger every day through Internet content influencers. These influencers not only act as brand spokespeople, but also help to create the content for the brand. Additionally, instead of creating content focused on the brand, marketers are more concerned with producing great content with the help of brand influencers, such as Logan Paul.

Paul, who described himself as “pretty crazy,” began creating videos when he was just 10-years-old. From the get-go, creating aesthetic on screen was exhilarating for Paul. However, it took quite a while for his career as an Internet content creator to launch, considering at age 18, Logan had only 4,000 subscribers. The break-through came when the six-minute video platform, Vine, first launched and Paul found his niche as the “crazy college kid from Ohio.” After nearly a year, a video compilation of all of his six-second Vines went viral, and Hollywood came knocking on his door. In addition to his Vine account, Paul has over 850,000 subscribers on YouTube, almost 13 million likes on Facebook, and 6.6 million followers on Instagram.

So, why do these numbers matter? They make Paul the perfect candidate for an Internet millennial influencer. Instead of using a movie star, such as Meg Ryan, in an advertisement, brands can use Paul to relate to millennials through unique content. Paul said using social media stars makes partnering with influencers easier because content can be much more visible on social posts. He creates videos and posts partnered with many different brands, such as Hanes and Aeropostale. Instead of going directly brands, brands come to him to pitch partnership ideas for his social media platforms.

 “Every single branded piece of content I’ve done has demolished, and so we’ve [taken] the laid-back approach, with the come to us, hard-to-get approach,” said Paul.

As an upside to being an Internet influencer, Paul can choose the brands that align with his goals and his voice. Obviously, if you’ve ever seen one of Paul’s videos, a conservative brand would not be the right fit. Paul tends to choose brands that are fun and risky, just like his personality. He says that the brand has to trust him and let him do his thing, and in return they will get the views and exposure. Hanes is the favorite brand Paul has gotten to work with because he was able to express himself in his own way for the brand, as he explained, “They let me do whatever I wanted. I got to ride a bull for it!”

However, social media platforms have recently placed more limitations on brands partnering with content creators. For example, Paul said you have to use the hashtags #ad and #sponsor in sponsored posts on Instagram. On Facebook, you have to disclose within the first five seconds that a video is in partnership with a brand. Logan said this has made it more difficult to create organic content, but he gets around the challenges through innovative content.

So why do brands enjoy pairing with content creators like Paul? Peterzell said brands are asking for real engagement and real narratives, and they want to be part of the conversation. It’s not always an easy formula to do, but picking content creators like Paul or actresses like Meg Ryan can help. Meg Ryan, who started acting in commercials in college, said there is a radical change in branding today. Ryan said in the 1980s, some actresses would fight for positions as a brand spokesperson. Today, actors and content creators, such as Logan Paul, can partner with brands more often on social media platforms because of social’s accessibility to the market. More importantly, influencers have the ability to give their own voice to what branded content is created.

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