Want to learn the ins and outs of influencer marketing? Just ask the guy who gave MrBeast his first brand deal.
Adam Hadi was working for digital marketplace Quidd when he arranged a $10,000 agreement with an up-and-coming creator from North Carolina. Now, he’s the VP of Marketing at banking company Current, but he’s still utilizing his innovative approach to influencer relations. As MrBeast (real name Jimmy Donaldson) puts it, Hadi is a “cheat code” for any brand that hires him. He is a friend to many creators and has a deep understanding of their ever-expanding “economy.”
Current, which appeals to Millennial and Gen Z moneymakers, recruited Hadi in 2019 as it advanced into the world of influencer marketing. It didn’t take long before the exec turned to his Beastly buddy in hopes of setting up another brand deal. Donaldson became an investor in Current last year and has worked closely with the company since then.
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By examining Hadi’s pitches to his high-profile partners, we can see the ways he negotiates the influencer marketing field. He is interested in going beyond the simple sponsorships you can find all over YouTube and TikTok. His goal is to not just make branded content, but to “enable great content” through payments to videomakers who come from “humble means.” In Hadi’s first deal with Donaldson, the $10,000 paid to the creator directly funded a heartwarming MrBeast video in which gave his sponsorship earnings to a homeless person.
By the time Hadi got to Current, MrBeast was a much bigger deal than it had been two years ago, but Donaldson could still use his dealings with the company to finance incredible videos. The banking company was the official sponsor of a clip in which Donaldson challenged his fans to rob a vault.
This sort of brand-creator relationship pays dividends for both parties. The creator avoids the “rush into monetization,” as Hadi puts it, by ensuring that their content operation and their financial status scale at a similar pace. For Donaldson, the Current partnership is “not just a brand deal, but a tool” that can enable growth and audience engagement. And the brand gets a boost because its sponsorships turn into more than just the standard ad read.
That strategy caught the eye of Eric ‘Airrack’ Decker (pictured above) when he was looking for the money he needed to film a new set of videos. “I first heard about Current through a friend and I reached out to them when I was looking for a brand to help me fund my Logan Paul Couch series,” Decker told Tubefilter. “Almost every single other brand didn’t see my vision and wasn’t willing to give me a chance but Current understood what I was trying to do and helped me out. That one deal literally changed my career on YouTube.”
Seeking the next generation
Hadi’s strategy works so well because he’s so well connected to the creator community. He was able to forge relationships with Donaldson and Decker when they were still starting out on YouTube, and because he looked after them, they are eager to work with him at Current. This led to a unique partnership between Decker and Hadi that gave the exec a chance to pass his knowledge onto the next generation of influencers.
Decker is the force behind Creator Now, a digital classroom that educates up-and-comers on the ins-and-outs of the online video biz. The course is broken up into “seasons,” with 300 creators participating in each one. For the latest season, Decker called on Hadi and brought him in as a guest lecturer who could talk about the influencer marketing experience.
“Adam was not afraid to tell the creators in our community when their integrations needed work and why he felt that way. That honest & brutal feedback is what makes Creator Now so special,” Decker told Tubefilter. “No one is here to give/receive participation trophies or to hear that their videos are amazing when they’re not and Adam did a great job at teaching our community what brands want to see when they partner with creators and how to be successful when you get the chance to partner with a brand like Current.”
Hadi also practiced what he preaches by turning his Creator Now appearance into a sponsored content opportunity. Current pledged $5,000 to the student who could make the best branded video. The turned out to be TheRealJared, who earned the banking company’s support while also demonstrating how these deals can be mutually beneficial if both participants go beyond the bare minimum.
For Creator Now’s students — who are “dead serious about becoming full-time creators,” according to Decker — the advantages of a conversation with Hadi are clear. But the exec benefitted from his guest appearance, too. He felt it was a “privilege” to speak to “incredibly talented and incredibly dedicated creators,” and he also got to “get in early in their career,” just as he did with Creator Now’s founder. “We really care about our perception as a brand within the creator community,” Hadi told Tubefilter.
Roadmap for an “undervalued” industry
According to Hadi, any marketer who wants to get the most out of their influencer campaign should pursue these personal relationships. They should be “building things for creators and for their fans” rather than handing them the money and calling it a day. Brands don’t always heed that advice, and the ones that don’t are both undervaluing creators and overpaying them, Hadi says. “Most brands are not leveraging as much as they could,” Hadi told Tuebfilter.
So what does that extra bit of leverage look like? To find it, you have to go beyond the videos themselves and look at the full picture of digital media. Donaldson’s pact with Current has resulted in exclusive merch and surprise giveaways, thus embedding the brand into the community it serves. Fans don’t just see Current as a name plugged into a sponsorship; the banking brand is looking to drive the culture it profits from.
This philosophy is on display in the most recent sponsorship deal Current announced. The company’s partnership with FaZe Clan will unlock financial opportunities for gaming creators while also encouraging those stars to “regift” $250 sums to their fans. While some brands rely on influencer relations, Current is also boosting its status among individual followers.
That’s Hadi to a T. He is always looking out for the little guy and thinking about how he can support their next big move while also advancing his company’s own motives and agenda. Even as he watches his partners become the biggest stars on YouTube, he never stops thinking about how they can grow even bigger. Decker said that he wants Current to send him to space one day. “That would be pretty cool,” he told Tubefilter. “Adam, we can make that happen right?”