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Brand Strategy Influencer Marketing Marketing

Will MrBeast's legal battle with his ghost kitchen spook influencers?


By Chris Harihar, Partner

August 4, 2023 | 6 min read

MrBeast’s push into food has ended sourly, with him branding his partner’s efforts as “inedible” and causing “irreparable harm” to his brand. Chris Harihar explores how influencers can avoid similar crises.

Mr Beast

/ Mr Beast Burger Instagram

The line between traditional legacy and influencer brands is blurring in the digital age. Influencers like MrBeast are the new celebrities, creating products and services that can resonate with their millions of followers.

But as MrBeast’s legal tussle with his ghost kitchen partner shows, there’s much more to the brand partnership than just having a recognizable name.

Here’s a look at why influencers, like traditional brands, need to view their brands through the lens of “brand safety.”

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In the corporate world, legacy brands like Nike have grown more concerned about “brand safety” over the years. A brand isn’t just a logo or a catchy slogan; it embodies values, reputation, and customer trust. Missteps in brand alignment can tarnish a brand’s image, sometimes irreversibly.

The rise of influencer marketing mirrors this trend. Influencers are not just content creators; they are brands in themselves. Their brand is their equity, and they must protect it at all costs, just as legacy brands have learned to do.

“Because the entire business is based on the tremendous global value of the MrBeast brand, it is MrBeast himself, not Virtual Dining Concepts, who has borne the brunt of the (justified) attacks and criticisms,” MrBeast’s lawsuit alleges.

With this in mind, here are some tips that influencers, whether they’re new to the scene or established like MrBeast, can consider to ensure their brand’s safety:

Understand your core values

Every brand, from Apple to a YouTube influencer, has a unique identity.

Understanding what your brand represents and what it doesn’t is essential. Whether innovation, reliability or a commitment to social issues, these values must be front and center in any partnership. Alignment with a partner’s values ensures that both parties are working toward the same goals.

Get creative, but be cautious

MrBeast Burger’s legal saga shows how stepping into unfamiliar territory can result in potential brand damage. While creativity is vital, influencers must recognize their limitations and not overreach.

Analyzing the risks and rewards, seeking expert guidance, and learning from established brands can mitigate potential issues.

Partner with those having a proven reputation

Working with partners that have an established reputation can significantly reduce the risk of brand dilution or negative impact. Just as legacy brands often choose partners with consistent quality records, influencers must seek collaborators who share their commitment to excellence.

MrBeast’s experience with Virtual Dining Concepts underscores what happens when you don’t partner with a proven collaborator.

“Virtual Dining Concepts was more focused on rapidly expanding the business to pitch the virtual restaurant model to other celebrities for its benefit; it was not focused on controlling the quality of the MrBeast Burger customer experience and products,” the complaint alleges.

Test and cut strategy

The agility to test new ideas, adapt, and, if necessary, cut ties quickly is crucial.

MrBeast’s negative experience emphasizes how a lingering negative partnership can damage a brand. Like seasoned brands, influencers must be willing to take the hit and move on if something doesn’t align with their brand or fails to meet expectations.–In the ever-changing digital landscape, influencers must recognize that their brand is both an asset and a responsibility. The situation faced by MrBeast offers a clear lesson: brand safety must be a priority, no matter how prominent or emerging the influencer is.

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By applying principles traditionally associated with legacy brands, influencers can ensure the protection and growth of their brand. The essence of brand management remains constant across the spectrum: your brand is your identity, and guarding it is essential.

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