SBD/November 10, 2016/Marketing Symposium

Search For Tomorrow: Brands Thinking Of New, Unique Ways To Reach Millennials

Selander mentioned content creators like Dude Perfect are noted sports influencers
When Whistle Sports Exec VP Brian Selander meets with potential partners and they ask him why working with the network is the right choice, there is a question of his own that he often asks: “Do you have someone in your life that is 14 to 30 years old? Text them that you’re with Dude Perfect,” he said. “It always comes back, ‘Oh my God, I love them, they’re the coolest thing.’ These are a new set of all-stars, and social sports influencers are the way to move sports fans.” The ways that brands are reaching young millennials was the focus of a panel on Day 1 of the '16 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium. “The passion as a fan is just as real, these sports influencers have all the same criteria, it’s just that they are the LeBron James of trick shots, or the LeBron James of lacrosse,” Selander said. For Whistle Sports, which has a number of popular content creators including trick shot experts Dude Perfect, "FIFA" player Calfreezy and Frisbee specialist Brodie Smith, the closeness the content has to social media is both a gift and concern for brands, said Whistle Sports Exec VP/Brand Partnerships & Advertising Deirdre Lester. "User comments are live front and center on social media, which is both great and hard for brands, and there’s always haters on YouTube,” she said. “But for every negative comment, increasingly we see people who say, Do you think they would be in this amazing location or with these amazing athletes if the brand didn’t make that possible?”

WALKING THE LINE: Hudson White and his brother, Brandon, launched the B.U.F.F. Dudes Channel on YouTube in '12 to provide viewers with a better understanding of food and fitness. They now have more than 1.1 million subscribers. White said that connecting with a digital audience presents unique challenges for content creators, who must juggle being both “scripted, and raw as well." White: "It’s a little bit like the scene in 'Wayne’s World' with the fake garage behind them -- the audience can see that a mile away. It’s really a fine line that you approach, but at the same time our videos are molded by the viewers.” There is also the opportunity to connect with millennial and digital viewers through content creation, something that Stouffer’s has found success with in recent years around its Fit Kitchen line, said Angelo Fields, the Stouffer's Associate Brand Marketing Manager for Nestlé USA. The company recently sent Cubs 3B Kris Bryant and Royals 3B Mike Moustakas to host a competitive softball game. They have also worked with the Dude Perfect crew. “It’s about activating differently,” said Fields. “Working with different influencers, you can not only get the organic reach that they bring, but also earned media as we’ve learned mainstream companies start to pick some of this up.”

GOTTA HAVE FAITH: Fields said that activating in this space does require a bit of a leap of faith. “You do have to say, if we test and learn here, then if we flop, we flop,” he said, but he also noted that it allows you to find growth for certain parts of a company’s business that may not be front and center otherwise. For GoPro, social content has shifted the company from being just a provider of technology, said company Entertainment Dir Julie Kikla. "We say that content is social, and social is content,” she said, adding that the company now uses submissions from its users in its marketing campaigns. “You look at some of the things that these creators are doing, whether it’s skydiving through rings or going to Mexico and cave diving with sharks and creating incredible content, and it’s stuff that even if we put the smartest people in a room and asked them to create compelling visuals they might not have come up with,” she said. “We want to allow that freedom and flexibility for our community, because what they’re passionate about is what they want to create.”
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