Disney drops YouTube star and brand influencer – but why did it align with him in the first place?

PewDiePie (aka Felix Kjellberg – and yes, many of you reading this won’t know who the heck he is) was summarily bounced by Disney after he included anti-semitic jokes in his posted videos.  He also sprinkled in some Nazi imagery for good measure.

PewDiePie hails from Sweden and is the most popular YouTube star on the planet with over 53 million subscribers.  His videos have been viewed 14 billion times.
With such a massive audience, Disney came calling with a joint venture deal for him to produce apps, video and merchandise.

And herein lies the question:  Why would Disney, with its much protected “family image” brand, climb into bed with someone who is widely known for being very provocative and irreverent?

Well, we all know the answer.  It’s all about the eyeballs.

Brands have become so laser-focused on how many prospective customers they can reach, that the sole criteria often seems to be the “number of followers” instead of the “quality of the content” being produced by that influencer.

Celebrities and athletes have seen their endorsement deals implode due to missteps, however social influencers have been largely immune from this backlash because as long as they deliver the numbers, they are given enormous latitude in content creation.  In fact, most social influencers reject the usual oversight of brands and refuse to adhere to the standard process of review and approval over their materials because they have convinced the brands that they know what their audience wants to see.

As the current appeal of social influencers continues to grow, Brands will need to re-evaluate their alignment with social influencers based solely on audience reach.

Maybe returning to examining the quality of the content and/or message will be a good place to start.

DLB – Procuring celebrities, athletes and influencers for companies, agencies and non-profits
Follow DLB on Twitter: @DarcyLBouzeos