Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the just announced partnership between YouTube sensation MrBeast’s snack brand Feastables and the Charlotte Hornets, there is no doubt their agreement is one of the most intriguing sponsorships of recent times.
Among the noteworthy aspects of the arrangement is that industry and media conversation surrounding the deal has concentrated almost exclusively on what it brings to the table for the NBA team versus what it will achieve for the sponsor. That reflects an assumption that the Hornets are more interested in the brand, fan and sales growth the partnership could achieve than the amount of the check MrBeast—real name Jimmy Donaldson–could write.
Although terms of the deal were not released, that theory is bolstered by comments in The Charlotte Observer from the team’s chief revenue officer, Jacob Gallagher, that new ownership “really pushed us to be creative and develop new standards for what our partnerships should look like.”
Mission accomplished. The first partnership between a creator-led brand and an NBA franchise links the Hornets to the most popular YouTuber in the world, as MrBeast boasts more than 187 million subscribers. With more than 350 million followers across all social media platforms, he is just outside the top 10 most followed accounts around the globe.
While it appears safe to say that Feastables is not simply paying a fee similar to the reported $5 million annually provided by six-year incumbent jersey patch partner LendingTree, it’s unknown exactly what the snack brand and its owner have committed in return for the Feastables logo appearing on jerseys for the NBA team and its G League and NBA 2K affiliates, as well as on media backdrops during Hornets press conferences.
Will there be a guaranteed level of promotion on MrBeast’s channels? Will the partners team up to co-create and co-brand content? Will MrBeast videos contain e-commerce links to jerseys on the Hornets’ fan shop?
And what are Feastables objectives for the sponsorship? Already in Walmart, 7-Eleven and other stores, is the upstart line of candy bars, cookies and gummies looking to expand distribution? Leverage its new NBA association to sell products in arenas and other venues?
Also contributing to the fascination with the deal is the element of risk the team took in forgoing a deal with a deeper-pocketed blue-chip company and taking on a high-profile brand partner that is essentially the embodiment of a 26-year-old diehard Hornets fan with an estimated net worth of anywhere between $50 million and $500 million.
Kudos to the Hornets on taking an innovative step. It will be fun to watch this partnership develop.