×

Startup Mozaic Branding Aims to Broker Branded-Content Deals for YouTube Stars

Mozaic Branding, a startup led by former Maker Studios exec Fran Solomita, has set up shop to steer more Madison Avenue branded-content deals to top YouTube creators.

Solomita, most recently VP of branded entertainment at Disney’s Maker Studios, said Mozaic’s approach will be to proactively work as matchmaker between brands and YouTubers, instead of trying to force-fit a marketer’s campaign with a given multichannel network’s roster of talent.

“Marketers can’t just shoehorn their branding into this content. There has to be a way to get the message across organically,” Solomita said. “We’ve seen good executions and bad. The idea is to up the average.”

That said, Mozaic also could work with MCNs on specific campaigns. “We’re MCN-agnostic,” Solomita said. While at Maker, according to Solomita, he oversaw branded-content deals with advertisers including Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, Discover and Universal Pictures.

Mozaic, based in L.A. and New York, is self-funded by the principals. Along with Solomita, the founding partners are: COO Mike Bienstock, founder of financial-advisory firm Semaphore, who negotiated Discovery Communications’ acquisition of Phil DeFranco’s YouTube channel; chief strategy officer Peter Bray, most recently director of digital at Saatchi & Saatchi; chief creative officer Todd Grossman, a writer/director/producer and former X Games athlete; and CFO Nate Higgins, co-founder of Semaphore with Bienstock.

Popular on Variety

“In the past, brands dictated what they wanted the talent to do,” Bienstock said. “Now the brands are starting to say, ‘Let’s have a conversation about that.’ The talent knows their audience better than anyone, so having the brands acknowledge that changes the game.”

To reach younger demos, marketers increasingly have been sponsoring content featuring digital stars.

Target, for example, is running an campaign this summer targeted at college-bound kids built around branded videos on its YouTube channel from creators including Todrick Hall, Ann Le and Tiffany Garcia. And last week, Old Navy kicked off a musical back-to-school campaign, produced with DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV and songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The campaign features appearances by YouTubers including Jennxpenn, Kingsley, Miranda Sings, Hunter March, Josh Levi, Mystery Guitar Man and Thats0jack.

“Million-dollar slick commercials are no longer resonating with consumers under 30,” Bienstock said. “We are at the dawn of a massive shift in the way brands connect with consumers.”

More Digital

  • Jake Paul

    YouTuber Jake Paul Launches Entrepreneur How-To Platform, Financial Freedom Movement

    YouTuber Jake Paul wants you to be financially free, for $19.99 a month.  At a rally on Saturday, the content creator — along with influencer friends and around 50 teenage and tween-age fans, some chaperoned by parents — launched the Financial Freedom Movement (FFM) in partnership with GenZ Holdings Inc., a Los Angeles-based brand development [...]

  • HQ Trivia

    HQ Trivia Live Game App Shuts Down

    After a two and a half years, HQ Trivia — the live game-show app that gave away cash prizes to winners — is shutting down. HQ Trivia’s move to shut its doors was first reported by CNN. The company is laying off its 25 full-time staffers, according to the report. In a tweet Friday, CEO [...]

  • Golden Mics - The Podcast Academy

    The Oscars of Podcasting? First 'Golden Mics' Awards to Debut in 2021

    The burgeoning podcast biz is looking for its own version of the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. On Friday, a group of podcast publishers and producers including Spotify, NPR, PRX, Sony Music Entertainment and Wondery announced the formation of the Podcast Academy, a membership-based organization dedicated to promoting the medium. As part of its charter, the [...]

  • Mike Bloomberg

    Mike Bloomberg's Odd Meme Blitz Spurs Instagram to Require Influencers to Disclose Paid Political Content

    A new paid meme campaign on Instagram by billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who’s running a guerrilla bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has prompted Facebook to clarify that influencers on the platform must disclose such arrangements. This week, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign launched a broad campaign across at least 19 top Instagram accounts with a collective [...]

  • Disney+ on Roku

    Roku Takes Credit for Being 'Important' Part of Disney Plus's Booming Q4 Signups

    Roku, in announcing strong 2019 holiday-quarter results, gave a bit of a flex in claiming it was a key part of Disney Plus reeling in 26.5 million customers in Q4. CEO Anthony Wood, on the company’s earnings call Thursday, gave props to Disney for blowing past Wall Street expectations with the new streaming service in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content