3 Musketeens: Can a candy bar make its own YouTube stars?

It’s been a while since 3 Musketeers chocolate had a marketing campaign; there’s a whole new generation that hardly knows the classic brand. The nougat-y candy bar, named for Alexandre Dumas’ 18th-century French guardsmen with feathery hats, doesn’t exactly scream teen culture.

That’s why Mars has had to rethink the brand to introduce it to Gen Z, the age group even younger than millennials.

Entrer les 3 Musketeens.

Mars, which has plenty of experience marketing top-shelf candy like M&M’s, Snickers and Skittles, is looking to revive 3 Musketeers with this digital-only campaign. In a bit of reverse influencer marketing, the brand has hired three unknowns, whom it hopes to turn into YouTube stars.

So far, 3 Musketeers has launched a YouTube channel with the three teens, and posted only three videos, which also get exposure on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and eventually Snapchat.

“We’re the first brand to create our own influencers that in itself takes a lot learning, and we’ll see how we can leverage the platforms to augment that strategy,” said Allison Miazga Bedrick, the senior brand director at Mars.

The “influencers” in the campaign are so lacking in actual influence at this point that their names are hardly visible on the channel. The Musketeens are only known as “Emily,” “Buz” and “G,” and they look and act like YouTube stars, going through all the motions.

“The goal of the campaign is to establish relevancy with Gen Z,” said Tribal Worldwide, the agency behind the campaign, in a statement. “While most brands do this by borrowing the reach and relevance of established social media influencers, 3 Musketeers decided to do something that has never been done before: Create reach and relevance of their own, by building a trio of influencers, from scratch.”

The YouTube channel already has 11,600 subscribers and videos are getting almost 40,000 views. However, there is a sense among the nascent community around the channel that this is a totally manufactured event.

The first two videos have a telling 50-50 thumbs up-thumbs down ratio, and some comments are harsh. The channel has been luring viewers with YouTube ads.

“Please just stop with the ads. It’s annoying for me and probably many other people. No offense but a 2 minute video every week SUCKS for a channel with this many subscribers. I’m not trying to be mean but i’m telling the honest truth. :),” one comment said, and it reflected many commenters’ thoughts.

Still, the new stars had their defenders, too, and many people were telling the trio to keep the videos coming.

Rebecca Mccotter, senior strategy director at We Are Social, said that the 3 Musketeens are a great example of the influencer strategy at work, but said it should be interesting to see how it pans out.

“We see a lot of brands wanting to use influencers to lend credibility to their platforms and content,” Mccotter said. “Whether it’s influencer or branded content it needs to be created with user behavior in mind, and on YouTube that is search based.”

The channel does post videos around popular YouTube themes that young people already are searching for, like the whisper challenge, which is when someone wearing headphones guesses what someone else is whispering.

Mars wouldn’t say how much it is spending on the campaign, but it promotes the videos on YouTube and Facebook, where its latest video of a shirtless G rubbing cake on himself and dancing got 560,000 views.

One of the benefits of hiring first-time web spokes teens is price — they cost less than more established stars that ask for thousands of dollars for even mentioning a brand on their channels.

The brand also is launching a hashtag campaign called “throw shine” — instead of shade. The idea is to encourage teens on the internet to spread positivity. The brand has already responded to some YouTube comments by telling people to throw shine instead.


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