Ricegum and Jake Paul came under fire for accepting a sponsorship from a scamming gambling website. Jake Paul didn’t care while Ricegum made a video defending himself. What should Ricegum have looked out for when accepting a sponsor?
Many creators have a manager vet sponsorships and brand deals and tell them about some. The manager will give them a brief overview of what it is, the requirements, and how much money it could pull in. The creator will decide if they want to take it. Too often, however, the creator will not look into the sponsorship/brand deal or the company it comes from and will go ahead with the deal. Social media managers aren’t perfect and make mistakes. Also, it’s the creator that knows their audience and what sponsorships and deals would fit better with the fans. Ultimately it’s up to the creator to make sure what they are promoting is good and decent. It’s a similar situation when you’re an actor or a musician in Hollywood. When a deal shows up, you need to ask for the information
Red Flag 1: Colors
Let’s say you got a sponsorship offer or a brand deal. Go to the website first and foremost and look at the layout and the colors of the site. Scam websites tend to have lots of colors and moving images like gifs or short automatic playing videos. They do this because it’s eye-catching. To kids and some adults that are easily influenced, they will be pulled in by the colors and images. They won't take into consideration the lack of professionalism in the design. Checking out MysteryBrand, the site recently in question, I was easily dizzied by all the color and movement. Even the “sale” labels pulse.
Alternatively, if you look at Dollar Shave Club, which is a frequent sponsor of Youtubers, you won't see that. The website has one video playing with muted colors. With nothing else moving and few colors overall. The background is white with no textures or highlights. In general, it has a very minimalistic style that is professional.
Red Flag 2: Spelling
When you have a professional website, the correct spelling is of utmost importance. Every scam website I’ve seen has spelling errors. I’m not saying they all do, but all of the ones I’ve seen do. Would you have guessed, MysteryBrand has spelling errors? To get the most text, I went to the FAQ. I copied some of the paragraphs and put them through Grammarly, so I don’t have to bother myself. Grammarly is a free tool that checks your spelling and grammar that I use every day. Free promo for you Grammarly. The service pointed out a lot of errors. Granted, I’ve seen worse. But the errors looked like they were done by a high schooler in America rather than some typical Indian or Nigerian scammer you would see. Eg “specially” instead of “especially”, missing several “the” and “an”, bad punctuation.
I then went to Dollar Shave Club. There weren’t huge paragraphs making things complicated. So for the sake of needing paragraphs of writing to spell-check, I went to the terms of service. I copied a bunch of that and ran it through and came up with… drum roll, please… One unnecessary comma. That was it. There weren't a lot of spelling or grammatical errors.
Red Flag 3: Offers
You’ve heard it from your parents growing up, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”. This has always been true. I’m an actress and I sometimes model. I got an offer today to do a photo shoot with a big name photographer for a certain designer. I’ve only done one modeling shoot and I’m more of a struggling actor. It would not make sense for someone like that to hire me. It’s too good to be true because it is. The Mystery Brand website has a lot of offers that look great. Boxes for designer clothes or video games and such. I’m not very materialistic as an adult so none of this appeals to me. But I’ll be the first one to tell you that child me, would love the idea of getting stuff for free. That’s the problem. Most adults (not all in the slightest) don’t fall for these. That’s why the company offered to sponsor creators that have a large following of children. That’s why they probably didn’t approach Phillip D Franko or even Jacksepticeye whose audience I’ve seen to be teenage and older in general.
The website has offers to buy a box for $10 that could have something super expensive like a VR headset. Before I saw a mansion for about $15 which seems to have been taken down. There’s no way that’s going to happen. Dollar Shave Club tells you straight out how much a subscription is and what you will be sent. It’s fair but not overly cheap or expensive as far as I can tell. It may not be the same thing as it’s not a gambling website, but you shouldn’t gamble anyway. Gambling is addictive, destructive, and lives to play you. You don’t play gambling, it plays you.
Red Flag 4: Reviews
Some people fall for scams quicker than others. That’s how sites like Mystery Brand get to be so big. When they realize they have been scammed, they will often tell the world online. Other times they will just internalize it. If you get a brand deal or sponsorship offer, look to see if other creators have done it. Rice did do this, as he said in his explanation. But that’s not all you should look at. If a company has no previous sponsorships, you should also be wary.
I searched for reviews of the site pre-drama. I found a YouTuber talking about the site being a scam as the second video I saw listed on Google. On September 30th, 2018 channel MallCops talks about a very small channel that bought a bunch of mystery boxes from the site in question. He also talks about a big channel that gets sponsored by the website. The small channel didn’t get much of anything and the big one, of course, gets lots of big items immediately. Pinned in the comments is a comment from NY Street Hangers where he shares an email he got from the site’s support when he inquired about a prize he won. This is what it said.
Asking for more money is what every scam does. If people are reporting that the site in question requested any additional money from a customer, run. Reviews are very important to look at.
Don’t get scammed out there. Pay close attention if you receive a brand deal or sponsorship. Remember, if you are a popular creator, you hold a moral responsibility to your viewers. Don’t let them down. There’s a really cool video about this scam situation by James Lee Animation. Check it out.