Tapping controversial actor/comedian Pete Davidson as a brand spokesperson might be considered a risky bet. But for Smartwater, the move has proven rather… smart.
The vapor-distilled water brand made Davidson the face of its “Live Smarter” campaign, which dubbed July 5 “Rehydration Day” (riffing off Independence Day’s reputation for overindulgence). This consisted of broadcast TV spots, social media posts, YouTube videos, and real-life activations.
All featured Davidson, who is rather well known for his own indulgences. The comedian’s excessive drug and alcohol use is well-documented, as are other “questionable” choices highlighted by the ad campaign.
These include tongue-in-cheek references to his tattoos (Davidson reportedly has over 40) and his past living in his mom’s basement. The ads reference these and other fictionalized bad choices, with Davidson deadpanning his desire to “live smarter.”
In fact, throughout the campaign, Davidson’s expression clearly communicates the irony of his involvement with anything to do with “living smart.” And for Smartwater, this could have easily backfired.
After all, Davidson has a colorful past marked by a long list of controversial statements, from criticizing the Catholic church to publicly mocking a disabled war vet congressional candidate (then apologizing for it, and then walking back the apology).
Put frankly, he’s a wildcard. But for Smartwater, it paid off… particularly with younger audiences.
The Davidson Difference
Flagship TV ads
According to TV-ad measurement firm iSpot.tv, Davidson’s broadcast TV spots resonated “particularly well” with audiences aged 16-20, citing the campaigns’ “unusual storytelling” as effectively capturing their attention.
iSpot’s data below shows how the 16-20 age group had the best positive response rates to the ads, while the 36-49 age group proved less enthusiastic.
The same ads on YouTube also made an impact. Before posting the Davidson-helmed ads, Smartwater’s best-performing video generated 2,400 views and 36 likes, according to influencer marketing company CreatorIQ. The Davidson ad, however, drew 523,300 views and 877 likes.
The social component of Smartwater’s campaign is particularly interesting, since Davidson has no social media presence. He deleted all social media accounts for mental health reasons several years ago after posting what many interpreted to be a suicide note, prompting a wellness check by New York authorities.
So his “return” to social media under the Smartwater handle certainly generated attention. Smartwater debuted its Instagram account this month with seven posts, all stemming from the “live smarter” campaign and all featuring Davidson.
According to CreatorIQ, the results were swift. Smartwater picked up over 60,000 followers in less than a week, split nearly evenly between the 18-24 age group and the 25-34 age group.
What’s more, CreatorIQ also reports that the company’s seven posts generated 2,200 likes and 76 comments per post, for an admirable overall engagement rate of 3.73% (which CreatorIQ rates as “good”).
Instagram wasn’t the only story. According to social video measurement firm Tubular Labs, the Twitter posts of the same campaign generated a notable bump in engagement. Five Twitter posts generated over 3 million views and 3,000 engagements in the week after they were published.
Source: Tubular Labs
Seems Davidson’s fans who miss him on social media are eating (drinking?) it up.