Bonnie Black, Senior Director at Jubilee Media, Describes What Creators Can Learn From Jubilee’s New Love and Relationship Brand Nectar

Photo credit: .nectar

We’re sitting down with leaders on the business side of the creator economy to get their best advice for creators looking to launch and develop their careers. This week we spoke to Bonnie Black, a senior director at Jubilee Media who is spearheading a new love and relationship brand for the company called Nectar. 

Previously covered by Passionfruit, you might recognize Jubilee for its provocative video titles like, “Flat Earthers vs Scientists,” “6 Non-Virgins vs 1 Secret Virgin,” or “Do All Teen Moms Think the Same?” Jubilee’s ethos is to cultivate empathy by exposing its audience to perspectives and identities they might not typically encounter in their day-to-day lives. Jubilee started as a non-profit YouTube project in 2010, before becoming a for-profit media company in 2016 and expanding into other forms of media like film. It currently has over 7.5 million subscribers on YouTube alone.

In September, Jubilee announced it raised $1.1 million in funding and signed with titan talent agency WME. Jubilee simultaneously launched Nectar, a brand centered around love and relationship content. While Nectar’s YouTube channel pulls from many Jubilee fan-favorite video formats, it also adopts a first-person stylized voice and is planning on building a dating community that will be unique from Jubilee’s. 

We spoke with Black about how Jubilee is “reimagining” its old hits, why Nectar decided to take on the first-person voice, the success of involving audience members in Jubilee and Nectar content, what creators can learn from Jubilee’s community management strategies, and more. 

Black started as a director at Jubilee in 2019. She directed videos for a variety of Jubilee’s most popular series, including belief opposition experiment show Middle Ground, game show Odd One Out, dating series Versus 1, and sex and sexual health series Sex Ed. Black told Passionfruit Jubilee will be pulling from some of these successful video formats while attempting to approach love in a different, more personal way.

“We’re bringing back a lot of old favorites, and re-imagining them, and pushing them further,” Black said.

Launched in September, Nectar’s new video series largely mimicked some of the pacing, topics, and structures proven effective on Jubilee. Series like Versus 1 reappeared on the page, and new series like dating simulator Build-a-Boo pulled from the game show and social experiment structures popularized on Jubilee. Nectar’s YouTube channel currently has over 50,300 subscribers, and its videos received over 2.7 million views. 

However, Nectar is unique from Jubilee due to its adoption of a first-person voice. Nectar is tweeting, Instagramming, and responding to viewers in comments as if it were a person. It also dropped an artsy, poetic release video titled “hi” and a website that reads like a diary—where users can hover their mouse over its mission statement to reveal hidden notes and scribbles in the margins.

Black said the motif of self-reflection through journaling is incredibly important to the founding of Nectar, as the brand wants to shift the narrative of the dating experience from finding a “mythical” partner to learning more about oneself in the dating process.

Black said Jubilee wanted Nectar fans to feel like there was a person on the other side of the screen talking to them and experiencing the dating process alongside them. In the past, Black said Jubilee’s mission focused on exposing people to different ways of thinking and identities, making it less ideal to showcase a first-person brand personality. As previously covered by Passionfruit, Jubilee videos touch on many sensitive topics—including sex work, abortion, religion, and politics—and often encourage video participants to share controversial takes.

“It’s a little more difficult to build a personality into that brand because you want it to never feel like it’s ostracizing any side of our audience. With this brand and this channel, we were really intentional about wanting it to feel like a personality,” Black said. 

Jubilee founder and CEO Jason Y. Lee told Passionfruit Jubilee is approaching this new, experimental channel while still holding strong with its classic content.

“Our viewers have a relationship with our channel, and like all relationships, there needs to be a healthy balance between change and the familiar. Our goal with our content is to always be evolving and offering our audience new and thought-provoking ideas, but there are also times when it’s comforting to eat dinner at the restaurant where you had your first date. We try to achieve both mindsets in our approach to creating and sharing our content,” Lee said.

Lee said the company’s audience is mostly Gen Zers and millennials, and he also described Gen Z as “the loneliest generation in history coming out of the pandemic.” He said he hopes to cultivate a space where viewers can feel less alone—particularly when it comes to dating.

Black said Jubilee’s old dating content saw a lot of success through community building via casting, aka finding folks to participate in their videos. Black said a lot of on-screen talent for dating content on Jubilee were fans who showed up and wanted to participate in the making of its content.

“Our dating content felt like it was the most accessible for viewers. It was something that we would get the most casting submissions on. … It’s a lot of really being in touch with your audience and really giving them the space to participate. … And when we created the opportunity for the audience to participate they showed up, and it meant a lot to them,” Black said.

Lee also said the majority of people featured in Jubilee videos are fans. 

“These are viewers who have signed up to receive our casting newsletter,” Lee said. “With Nectar, we want to take that even a step further by engaging more deeply with our audience after the videos come out.”

Beyond fan engagement through casting, Black and Lee said Nectar is trying to create a more interactive experience by engaging with fans in the comments and creating a stylized self-reflection “journey” across its website, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube pages. Black said the brand is even hoping to make Nectar a place where users can go to “find love.”

“YouTube is a really passive thing, you know? You watch this video, and it may give you a lot of ‘ah-hah’ moments, I think Jubilee is really great at that. … But there wasn’t really anything for people to do next,” Black said.

Black also said she’s interested in bringing previously featured cast members back to participate in multiple videos so that fans can follow up on cast member stories and learn more about their lives.

“We have a lot of really amazing cast members who come through and participate in our content and become fan favorites just like for showing up. They’re such interesting characters. … We’ve never really on the Jubilee side of things created a space where we, like, double-down on our talent and follow up with them and find out what happened next,” Black said. 

One recurring on-screen talent cast for Nectar is creator Nicolas Zhou, a new addition to the team, who will be hosting Nectar’s Build-a-Boo show. Zhou said he is a long-time fan of Jubilee and that Jubilee team members, one of whom he worked with in the past, reached out to him to interview for a position on the show after watching his personality-driven TikTok videos online. 

“I think what makes Build-a-Boo so successful is that its structure mimics modern dating so closely. We dream up our ideal partner, go on dates, and then quickly realize that fantasy doesn’t line up with reality often,” Zhou said. “Build-a-Boo takes us through all those steps in a way where we get to live vicariously through the contestant and root for them.”

Zhou said he thinks creators can glean wisdom from Nectar’s ability to “listen to and respond to” its online community.

“Even with light-hearted shows like Build-a-Boo, there’s still this layer of introspection that the Nectar community has already latched onto. It’s all pointing towards this future in the digital space where audiences want to see more vulnerable and honest content that isn’t exploitative or heavy-handed,” Zhou said. 

When asked about advice for creators based on her experience as a director for Nectar and Jubilee, Black said it’s important to always remember the viewer’s experience when making videos. She also said it’s important to give viewers powerful takeaway moments at the end of each video. 

“What can give them the most to walk away and chew on? Whether that’s having a moment where they realize that they have their own biases and they were shocked by it or leaving them with a question they can really ponder in terms of how they navigate the love and dating space. … They can walk away and feel like you really delivered on something that you promised to them,” Black said. 

Also thinking about the viewer’s experience, Black reminded creators that online audiences tend to have a “really good bullshit meter.” 

“They can tell when you’re doing something just for clicks, and it’s not authentic, or it’s not thought through, or it’s not intentional. Just, like, don’t assume your audience is dumb—because they can smell that stuff. I think when you treat your audience with a level of respect, and you’re like, ‘This is interesting to me. I think this could be interesting to you, too,’ they resonate with that more,” Black said. 

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