Open Influence Founder and CEO Alex Dahan spoke with Campaign US Premium Reporter Bailey Calfee for her story about the chaos that ensued in New York’s Union Square last week due to a poorly conceived creator giveaway.
In case you missed it, creator Kai Cenat—who has more than 6 million followers on Twitch and 4 million on YouTube—and fellow creator Farnum said Aug. 3 that they would give away PlayStation 5 gaming consoles and other electronics in Union Square at 4 p.m. ET Aug. 4.
The stunt backfired on Cenat in a big way, as he did not secure a permit for the event. He is now facing a felony charge of first-degree rioting and misdemeanor charges of inciting a riot and promoting an unlawful gathering after a crowd that the New York Police Department estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000 descended on Union Square, became unruly, and engaged in riot-like activities.
The NYPD said 65 people were arrested, with nearly one-half of them minors, and Calfee pointed out that 6,000 people would represent just 0.09% of Cenat’s following on Twitch.
Dahan discussed some of the pitfalls of running a giveaway without professional help, telling Calfee that having an agency in the fold would assist with “making sure that there’s transparency throughout that process and nobody feels like the system is working against them. There were a lot of misses in what happened, and a mutually beneficial situation could have been created if there was more foresight into this before it was rolled out.”
As for the impact on Cenat’s personal brand, Dahan said, “I don’t think branding opportunities will pull back because of this. Maybe in terms of the lack of management and oversight of his team, some brands may raise red flags and say, ‘(Cenat’s) team should have known the power of his following, and they should have been better prepared for this.’”
Dahan also addressed the creator who has become synonymous with giveaways—Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast—noting that Donaldson has the financial resources to offer winners the chance to exchange big-ticket items they win for cash, while other creators may not, which could cause them to lose their fans’ trust.
“There are a lot of systems out there that provide a formal structure on how to do those giveaways and prevent those issues,” Dahan said.