Proactiv, the Guthy│Renker skincare brand, has traditionally utilized Hollywood’s hottest stars to appeal to its young audience, but now that the brand is seeking to move into the digital space, it’s opting for YouTube celebrities instead.
Proactiv’s new YouTube series, #BeYouTV, partners with nine major bloggers, who have a combined more than 5 million followers, for a 14-episode series. Each episode will feature a different how-to or DIY guide, offering advice on everything from decorating dorm rooms to throwing a Super Bowl party. The show’s host, beauty blogger Eva Gutoski, is an online celebrity in her own right, with 1.5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, MyLifeAsEva.
Proactiv’s decision to opt for online personalities instead of its more well-known television influencers, such as Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine, is evidence of the fact that, among teens, “YouTube celebrities” are simply celebrities.
According to chief marketing officer (CMO) of Guthy│Renker Jay Sung, traditional celebrities simply don’t offer the same level of engagement that comes from working with online stars.
“These bloggers have so much more engagement with their fan bases,” says Sung. “YouTube lets someone like Eva talk to her fan base five times a week. And that’s what brands are looking for. When we’re on TV, we’re going to use the most well-known names that we can find. But to not maximize these emerging celebrities on YouTube would not be maximizing our opportunity.”
A recent Nielsen survey found that young people ages 18 to 24, are watching 27 percent less TV than they did in 2011, shifting their attention instead to Internet and mobile video. And while Proactiv still plans to air 5,000 television spots a week featuring infomercial-style footage of acne and skincare solutions, the brand realizes that what works for television is usually simply ignored on the Internet.
“YouTube is where the rules of content are being revisited,” says Sung. “Our need to package content and commerce together has never been as great. In an on-demand world, consumers have a lot more choice in what they choose to watch and what they choose to engage with, so if I take a hard-hitting infomercial and put that in front of someone who’s trying to watch a video of something they’re interested in, I think [viewers] will resent me.”
But as Proactiv struggles to create content that won’t breed resentment in its audience, Russ Fradin, chief executive (CEO) of Dynamic Signal, warns that too much variety in content at once can overwhelm an audiences. “Obviously if you have hundreds of people all sharing the same message at the same time in a boilerplate fashion it will look like spam,” says Fradin. “A great thing about working with social media celebrities is they are smart enough to understand their audience, their reach, and smart enough to position things in an appropriate way for their audience.”
Sung says that in order to drive action without bombarding viewers with its message, the brand had to step away from its own content and let the influencers authentically deliver their message in a way that almost harkens back to the old days of radio advertising.
“[Native content] is almost pushing back to the 1950s in terms of product placement,” Sung says. “In a sense, young people are allergic to advertising, or at least highly skeptical of it. You’re only going to get distributed and watched if people want to watch your stuff. Those are the new rules.”
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