Mountain Dew developed its own digital-media ‘influencers’ — and that’s terrible news for digital ad middlemen – Markets Insider

  • skateboard

    Last year Mountain Dew established its own
    network of digital stars

  • So far the effort has generated over 300 million video
  • The brand has since pulled back on spending with
    influencer-brokers – and other brands may follow suit

Mountain Dew has built its own network of digital stars, and the
apparent success of this endeavor isn’t great news
for middlemen who promise to help companies find
“influencers” to promote their products. 

A year or so ago, as the number of companies promising to connect
marketers to digital creators and influencers was
pushing beyond saturation,
Mountain Dew introduced the

Green Label MCN
(or multichannel network) modeled after the
YouTube-born media companies like
TV or Maker Studios.

Instead of running ads with hundreds or thousands of YouTube
stars, like those companies often do, the brand zeroed in on
four. The results have has been encouraging.

During the project’s first year, those four creators have churned
out content that has generated 326 million videos views,
including 17.5 million views of videos that were created
specifically to tout the Dew brand, the company told Business
Insider. Over that year-long period, the four creators amassed
4.6 million ‘engagements’ on social media–likes, shares,
comments, etc.


The creators in the mini influencer networks include four
very Mountain Dew-esque talents
. There’s a basketball

trick shot maker named The Professor,
  and a hip hop
dancer called D-Trix
— who has 3.5 million YouTube subscribers and even created
an original dance competition series on behalf of the soda
Rounding out the list, not surprisingly, are two skateboarding
athletes, Josh
and Nigel Alexander.

Michael Craig, Mountain Dew’s senior manager, marketing, said
that the soda brand had previous done some
work with companies
that represent
web influencers in the past
, like some of the big name MCNs.

“It was becoming expensive,” he said. “And we were doing a lot of
‘one off’ deals. We had questions about whether we got a return
on our investment. So we sort of asked, ‘Why couldn’t we just do
this on our own?’”

That sort of talk may worry companies that specializing in
managing vast networks of digital influencers, since it’s a good
bet other marketers are considering the same sort of DIY move.

According to Brendan Gahan, executive vice president at the
social media agency Epic Signal, which Mountain Dew tapped
to help find the quarter of video creators, over the past few
years there have been a lot of
less-than-fruitful attempts by marketers to blast out
messages via hundreds, if not thousands of creators with some
level of symmetry and automation. 

Instead, he recommends taking the more labor intensive route
of connecting deeply with a few.

“The human element is really key,” he said. “You want to find
people who’s eyes light up with the brand. There is a lot of hype
around the space, an so much investment. It doesn’t
benefit the brand, the viewer or the creator if brands are just
dipping in and out.”

When making content with a web creator, “becomes a strategic
partnership, it’s really meaningful and a bit more
sustainable. Rather than restarting things all the time
these creators become an extension of the marketing arm.”


Dew tends to agree. The company has pulled back on spending with
MCNs and other influencer networks and plans to expand its own
Green network

“We want to continue to grow this,” said Craig.


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