Photo courtesy DrinkPrime.

The rise and fall of PRIME a case study on influencer marketing

Just one year ago, PRIME was an unstoppable phenomenon. It wasn’t just a drink; it was a cultural touchstone. Supermarkets shelves were emptied within seconds, online auctions saw bottles fetching upwards of US$10,000, and social media buzz was deafening. This meteoric rise, fuelled by a potent combination of celebrity power and strategic marketing, seemed destined for long-term success.

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However, the past year has been a period of significant change for PRIME. This case study delves into the factors that fuelled the initial hype, explores the challenges that have emerged, and analyses whether PRIME can recapture its former glory, or if it faces the very real possibility of falling from grace.

Unlike the controversies that now cloud its image, PRIME’s initial ascent was untainted by scandal. Let’s rewind the clock and explore the remarkable story of PRIME’s rise.

The KSI-Logan Paul PRIME hype machine

KSI and Logan Paul’s rivalry-turned-partnership proved to be a masterstroke for launching PRIME. Both influencers have massive audiences in their respective countries. KSI is British YouTuber and rapper with a strong presence on YouTube and Twitch, boasting over 40 million subscribers.

His audience skews young, energetic, and heavily engaged. Logan Paul, is an American social media personality and boxer with over 60 million YouTube subscribers. His content leans towards challenges, pranks, and vlogs, attracting a similar young demographic.

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The “frenemy” effect

Their well-documented boxing matches in 2018 which resulted in a draw and 2019, that saw KSI winning the match, generated immense online interest. It should be mentioned that Logan Paul’s streaming career was on the ropes after series of inappropriate videos posted on his YouTube channel. The most notorious was when he filmed a dead body in the “Suicide Forest” in Japan.

After the second boxing match, KSI was a guest Logan Paul’s podcast. Paul expressed gratitude for the fact KSI made Paul relevant on social media once again. Shortly after the announcement of PRIME was made via Instagram live. Capitalising on this existing fanbase, KSI and Logan Paul positioned PRIME as a product that transcended their rivalry, uniting their audiences.

Social media blitz

Both KSI and Logan Paul frequently featured PRIME in their social media content, leveraging their established social media followings. This could be subtle product placement in videos, photos with PRIME bottles during workouts, or casual mentions in live streams.

PRIME utilised specific social media features to generate buzz. For instance, sponsored Instagram stories with interactive polls asking followers about their favourite flavour, or limited-edition PRIME giveaways through Twitter contests.

KSI and Logan Paul’s playful banter and challenges often centred around PRIME, keeping the brand at the forefront of their audience’s minds.

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Building community

A dedicated #DrinkPRIME hashtag encouraged fans to share their experiences with the drink, creating user-generated content and further amplifying brand reach. KSI and Logan Paul actively responded to comments and messages about PRIME, fostering a sense of community and brand loyalty.

By leveraging their massive followings, pre-existing rivalry, and strategic social media tactics, KSI and Logan Paul turned PRIME into a highly anticipated product before it even hit the shelves. This “celeb stamp of approval” fuelled the initial hype and propelled PRIME to early success.

Challenges and potential fall

The 2023 release of PRIME Energy with 200mg caffeine raised concerns about targeting young audiences with such high levels of stimulants. Where Monster and Bang energy drinks contain 300mg of caffeine, difference is the target audience. PRIME is almost solely marketed to Young Adults (Gen Z).

The initial limited release strategy, while creating initial excitement, frustrated consumers and may have hampered long-term sales growth. This ultimately led to a predatory secondary market where PRIME was resold by scalpers for hundreds of dollars. Schools in the US were forced to ban PRIME as a black market developed in some cases leading to distractions of the student body.

The energy drink market is saturated with established brands. PRIME needs to differentiate itself beyond celebrity association. To overcome this PRIME became the official drink of both the UFC and Barcelona FC.

Courtesy DrinkPrime
From left, KSI (cut-out), Dana White (president of UFC), and Logan Paul. Photo courtesy DrinkPrime
KSI, left, and Logan Paul. Photo courtesy

Uncertain future

PRIME’s future hinges on addressing concerns about caffeine content, availability, and environmental impact. Expanding distribution channels beyond limited releases is essential for wider market penetration. Developing a unique selling proposition beyond celebrity association is crucial for long-term survival.

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PRIME’s close association with Logan Paul

Logan Paul’s involvement with the controversial NFT project CryptoZoo has cast a shadow over PRIME, raising concerns about his trustworthiness and potentially impacting the drink’s reputation. Since Logan Paul has for most part been the face of PRIME from its inception, his business activity on other projects has have a negative impact on the goodwill of PRIME.

The immense hype and undelivered promises surrounding CryptoZoo have led to accusations of Logan Paul scamming investors. This can erode consumer trust in anything he promotes, including PRIME. News articles and social media discussions linking PRIME to Logan Paul’s crypto ventures might paint PRIME in a negative light, associating it with risky and potentially fraudulent practices.

Generation Z, PRIME’s target audience, is known for being socially conscious and critical of influencers. They might be wary of a product associated with someone perceived as untrustworthy or involved in a project seen as exploitative.

PRIME’s image is built on fun, youthfulness, and a healthy lifestyle. An association with a shady crypto project clashes with this image, potentially confusing or alienating their target audience.

Examples of the negative effects of Paul’s involvement as the face of PRIME can be seen all over the internet. Imagine a scenario where someone tweets, “Just saw Logan Paul shilling PRIME again. Isn’t that the guy behind that CryptoZoo scam?” This negative association can spread quickly online.

A popular gaming influencer might hesitate to do a sponsored PRIME review if they don’t want to be seen as endorsing Logan Paul’s ventures. News outlets might do investigative reports on the connection between PRIME and Logan Paul’s crypto activities, putting the brand under unwanted scrutiny.

PRIME might be able to distance itself from the controversy, especially if Logan Paul takes steps to address concerns surrounding CryptoZoo. However, the potential for negative impacts exists and shouldn’t be ignored.

PRIME’s meteoric rise showcases the power of influencer marketing and celebrity branding. However, to avoid the pitfalls of a fad, PRIME must adapt, innovate, and address potential issues to secure a lasting position in the beverage market.


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