This is the first post in a new series spotlighting the top influencers in social media. Stay tuned for much more, including exclusive interviews.
When we decided to start spotlighting some of the top influencers in video and how they work with brands, Devin Supertramp (real name Devin Graham) felt like an obvious starting point. Fellow YouTube stars Rhett and Link recently called his work “ready-made for sponsorship,” and it only takes one visit to his YouTube channel to see why so many brands want to align with gorgeous footage of young people having the time of their lives, performing insane stunts, all over the world. Each video is practically a guaranteed viral hit at this point, so instead of getting lost in the weeds of view counts, suffice it to say that Graham has amassed hundreds of millions of views in his career. And he’s just getting started.
Once we looked more closely at all of his videos, what surprised us was just how many brand integration deals Devin Graham has amassed. And yet, the key point here is that Graham’s success is only made possible thanks to his commitment to his fans. The brand deals listed below only work if the relationship between Graham and his audience is put first. And so, from the brand’s point of view, that requires putting a lot of trust in the creator.
Thus, as Devin has smartly shown through his work, two key principles emerge for any brand looking to develop a successful partnership with a creator:
- Maintaining authenticity with the audience
- Trusting the creator
And, if you listen closely to Graham in his interviews and the behind-the-scenes footage that accompanies practically everything he shoots, he explains how this is all meant to work. Here are a couple quotations from his most recent collaboration with Citibank:
“We just got done filming with Citibank on our next big video. They were so gracious to sponsor to make it happen, without them, without sponsorships, these epic things that we can think of in our minds we can’t do. In this case, Citibank, they trusted us to do a collaboration with them. So, we’re super thankful for them.”
“We did an awesome partnership with Citibank – they are the ones that made this video happen. Because you guys watch our videos and support our videos, we actually get the chance to work with sponsors that make our videos much bigger, and better, and alive. And this one was really exciting because we had you guys, our fans, take part in it and actually determine what we actually built.”
And, here’s what he said in a Behind the Brand interview at VidCon:
“These brands see what we’re doing, they see we have a huge audience, they see that we’re successful with that audience, so they’re basically like ‘We trust you, here’s the criteria… what do you want to do with that?’ So they give us complete creative license, for the most part… And I love it because they trust us and we get to work together in a collaboration – it’s still a collaboration, you want their feedback and stuff – but it is them trusting us because it’s our audience. So, we can do what we want to basically make anything happen.”
For more tips and strategies for brand integrations on YouTube, get our free eBook right here.
Now, without further ado, here are some of the best brand integrations from Graham and his Supertramp team, along with some insights into what made them special.
As part of their #incredouble campaign for the new Double Cash Card, Citibank enlisted the Supertramp team to come up with an “epic combo,” in this case combining a giant rope swing with hot air balloons.
Citi then asked the fans to submit their own ideas for an epic combo stunt, and the winner was a “Wrecking Ball Piñata.” Pay special attention to the #incredouble T-shirts on display.
Something Graham excels at is how he brings the audience behind the scenes to make them feel like a part of the process, while building and maintaining authenticity. Here is a behind-the-scenes video uploaded to Citi’s official YouTube channel.
With video games looking more realistic every day, what’s truly impressive is the ability to recreate these games in real life. And that’s exactly what Graham pulled off for Ubisoft, reenacting games such as Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and Watch Dogs.
As Graham explained in his Behind the Brand interview, this partnership was made possible because Graham was already a fan of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed, and so, he went ahead, without talks of any deal, and made this epic video in his hometown of Salt Lake City:
By proving to Ubisoft what he was actually capable of before any deal negotiations had even begun, it made everything that much easier once it came time to create officially sponsored, custom content like this:
Speed Stick Gear
After using some of Graham’s footage for their own, more traditional TV commercial, Speed Stick took the next step and signed up for a piece of branded content, creating the world’s largest urban zipline.
Something to notice is how the brands are featured in the “end card” of the videos. What’s important is that the audience is given something much more useful than a blunt “buy now!” link. Instead, they can continue to engage with the content by watching supplemental videos. This builds authenticity, and it’s important for brands to understand why. On YouTube especially, the audience can tell when something doesn’t feel true to the creator’s style, so it’s essential to trust the creator as much as possible.
Mountain Dew enlisted the Supertramp team for their #DEWroadtrip campaign, which involved asking fans to submit ideas for stunts – “On September 1st, we’re jumping into an RV full of Mountain Dew and all the equipment we need to pull off some seriously amazing stunts. And the best part is, YOU will be planning the locations and the stunts themselves right along with us!” Here is the most viewed of the six different videos from this campaign:
Bear Naked Granola
A common theme for these videos is clearly, “Don’t try this at home.” And so, we’d like to take this moment to thank Devin Supertramp for letting us live vicariously through his epic videos. Though, what makes these videos so great is how just about anyone – not just stunt professionals – is welcome to “play at their own risk”:
This video came about as part of a larger YouTuber collaboration campaign from Turkish Airlines called #FortuneTraveller, which followed 10 different YouTubers around Istanbul. Be sure to check out the entire campaign to see how other YouTube stars are working with brands.
(A somewhat related side note – Graham smartly offers up some of his beautiful, 4k and 6k footage to license as “stock footage.”)
Honestly, we don’t have much commentary to add here, other than THIS LOOKS AWESOME CAN WE PLAY!?
When compared to the bike-riding skills on display here, driving a car has never been made to look easier, more convenient, or safer. Well done, Ford.
Finally, we have this collaboration with Intel, which is perhaps the least “branded” video of them all, proving that simply being able to align with incredible content like this can be highly valuable to brands.
How to work with influencers
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of authenticity and trust when it comes to creating custom, branded content with influencers. If you didn’t take the time to watch all the videos above, you may have missed just how careful Devin Supertramp is when it comes to respecting the relationship with his audience, along with the high level of trust that all of these brands have in Devin and his team. If you keep those two core principles in mind, you’ll be on your way to creating amazing, engaging content that connects with audiences unlike anything else.
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