The stars of viral YouTube channel ‘Mandem on the Wall’, Joivan Wade, Percelle Ascott and Dee Kartier presented a fascinating midday session at Mindshare’s Huddle event about how to be a DIY Superstar in the digital age.
“We realised a massive gap in the market in the terms of content we wanted to see,” said Ascott, who grew up watching hit 80s comedy, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “I thought ‘we could be the ones to fill that gap’”.
The boys, who started their showbiz lives at the Brit school, have taken their characters to many platforms, including the MOBO Awards and TED talks.
“We’ve really been able to push our content out there and really push our brands and ourselves, all starting from YouTube,” added Ascott.
Looking at other platforms, they felt Snapchat has dominated with children recently. “Each social media is a different animal,” he added, “as Vine came in to the picture, with six second videos, we had to evolve with that”.
However, their platform of choice is their JPD3 website which is launching the week of 16 November. “We want to work together as long as possible,” added Ascott, referencing the Wayans as influences.
Wade, as well as mentioning movies which are due out next year, talked about how their website will be a platform to highlight new comedians, whilst keeping consistent with the Mandem on the Wall branding.
“With comedy, unless you go to Comedy Central, there’s no grassroots way for people to see your comedy,” said Wade. “I don’t actually watch TV anymore because everything is online now.”
“I’ve had great experiences on TV but there are still obstacles,” said Ascott. “Online is what our demographic uses all the time and we know it well, let’s make it home; if TV comes, it’ll come.”
Wade talked about how when they got TV offers, they let online take a back seat.
“We need to give online platform love and respect – if you’ve got a strong audience you can take to TV and movies, TV and movies are always going to want you because you’ve got that following.”
With regards to branded content, Wade said “If it’s just becomes an advert, your audience zone out – you need to make it authentic”.
Wade expressed the difficulties of creating branded content with characters: “It’s a completely different type of branded content, the audience love them a certain way and we have to keep them that way, which can be difficult to build with a brand.”
“If you’re working with YouTubers, keep the soul, make sure it doesn’t just become an ad,” said Ascott. “There is a way to reach a compromise.”
Wade said this belief had led them to declining brand partnerships that don’t fit their image: “If you share the kind of message we share, then we would love to work with these brands together and grow long term.”
Ascott went on to talk about how brands need to understand the timing limitations of different platforms.
“We’ve sometimes done content we know isn’t going to work but we’ve had to do it for the brand,” said Ascott. “We sleep and breathe this thing, we have instinct and I think that takes you very, very far.”
With regards to mistakes they had made, they said filming series all at once so they were able to schedule the release time was key.
“We look at metadata, analytics, we look when our audience are online so we know the peak times to put content out, which is 6pm to 12am,” Ascott said, also discussing time zone differences and clashes with key TV events like X Factor.
Wade felt a big mistake was jumping ship to TV: “You’ve run away from what originally got you there in first place which makes no sense, you go back to your missus and she’s gone. Stay with your first love!”
Kartier mentioned they had considered a move to blogging to create quicker content. “We watched it back and said ‘our fans are not to take to this – this is not us’”.
“Following numbers was our biggest mistake,” said Ascott. “Be happy, make content you enjoy, be the master of your craft and the numbers will follow.”
Looking to the future, the boys talked about movies, going on tour, doing more online and live stuff and more content through their new website platform.
Kartier said “I will be doing the first stand up gig on the moon, we’re going to live stream it and stuff, so make sure to look out for that.”
Ascott added “I still want to win that Oscar but I will keep doing this for now!”