AUSTIN, TX: Sour Patch Kids, the candy line owned by Mondelez International, has shown how tapping YouTube influencers in innovative ways can help brands make a genuine connection with teens.

Farrah Bezner, marketing director/Halls and candy at Mondelez International, discussed this subject at MediaPost's OMMA event held during South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin Texas.

"A teenager would say that YouTube influencers are celebrities," she told the conference audience. (For more details, including results of the "Breaking Out" campaign, read Warc's exclusive report: How Sour Patch Kids recast YouTube influencers – and engaged teens.)

To support this view, Bezner could draw on a survey of 1,500 teens aged 13 to 17 by Variety, the entertainment title, which found their top five famous faces had risen to prominence by creating content on YouTube.

In response to such a trend, Sour Patch Kids – a soft candy boasting the tagline "Sour. Sweet. Gone" – has been "working a lot" with this new breed of celebrity.

One thoroughgoing example is "Breaking Out", a scripted series of webisodes featuring several YouTube influencers as the stars, even though none of them were mainly known for their acting skills.

"Yes, we have TV: our 'Sour then Sweet' messaging really resonates with teenagers," said Bezner.

"But even beyond moving into social – we're on Snapchat and Facebook and everything – we know that there's only so much that can come directly from the brand to a teenager and still be relevant.

"So being able to be authentic through the voice of an influencer is really important."

The six episodes – and a slate of almost 20 accompanying clips – of "Breaking Out" were thus hosted on the channels run by the YouTube influencers rather than on Sour Patch Kids' own social feeds.

In keeping with this impulse, the brand was careful to ensure all the content felt genuine to its stars, from the dialogue used to the degree of product integration.

"We worked with the talent to get the scripts to a place that we could bring the essence of our 'Sour then Sweet' into each of the episodes, but in a way that felt natural for their channels," Bezner said.

Data sourced from Warc