Moreso than doctors, lawyers, or even firefighters, most teens today want to be influencers when they grow up, says Hulu’s VP of brand marketing and culture, Nick Tran, citing internal research. (We’ve also reported on this trend).

But what does being an influencer mean to teens? “They’ll actually say my dream in life is to have a company pay me money to sell their stuff on my social channels,” Tran said in conversation with Digitas’ content head Mark Book at the ad agency’s NewFronts presentation. “Shocking and super-sad” though this state of affairs may be, Tran said, “it immediately made us realize that it’s not bad to be a sellout if you embrace it.”

Accordingly, Hulu harnessed these findings for its recent #Sellouts campaign, for which it recruited NBA stars Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo to spread the word about basketball programming on Hulu’s nascent live TV service. Rather than trying to conceal that the campaign was sponsored, Hulu sought to be overt about the fact that the athletes were being paid for their support. Social posts, for instance, were hashtagged with #ad, #paid, #alot, #sponsored, #hulupaidme, and #hulusellouts.

The Sellouts campaign will run for the remainder of 2019, Tran said, and the company is extending it to other sports, including women’s soccer ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicks off next month.

In his conversation with Book, Tran also discussed the evolution of influencer marketing from the traditional celebrity spots of yesteryear to today’s social set. Whereas social influencers may have initially been perceived as more authentically supportive of products than traditional celebrities, Tran says, the saturation of the digital space has now put both groups on par in terms of perceived authenticity.

“I’m sure there’s going to be another group of influencers outside of social that’ll start to pop up,” Tran says. “So it could be more like niche, micro-communities — like people who are influential in the shoe or sneaker community, or in the food community…and then try to have them be a brand ambassador.”

Book echoed these thoughts, noting that, for the first time this year, influencers marketing exceeded print advertising spend. (Studies have posited that influencer marketing could be a $10 billion industry by next year).

You can check out Tran and Book’s conversation in full right here:

And you can check out the rest of Tubefilter‘s interviews from our ‘Insights from the 2019 Digital Content NewFronts’ video series right here.

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