Popular YouTubers MrBeast, and Mark Rober launched a creator-driven philanthropic initiative called #TeamSeas on Friday. The environmental project aims to raise $30 million by the end of 2021, in an effort to remove 30 million pounds of trash from oceans, rivers, and beaches.
MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, is a 23-year-old YouTuber who has billions of views and over 186 million subscribers across social media. Donaldson is known for giving away large amounts of money in his videos, either by donating it or through challenges and competitions. Rober is a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Apple engineer who also has billions of views on YouTube, as well as over 20 million followers across social media. The creators worked together in the past, notably on their 2019 #TeamTrees initiative, another environmental campaign that met the goal of planting 20 million trees.
For #TeamSeas, creators are challenged to make videos and posts about protecting the ocean and combatting plastic pollution. They are urged to attach #TeamSeas to their posts across YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch, and link to TeamSeas.org, where people can donate to the cause. Proceeds donated to the campaign will be sent to nonprofits The Ocean Conservancy and The Ocean Cleanup.
The Daily Dot was able to speak with one of the campaign’s partners, BEN Group. The entertainment artificial intelligence and influencer marketing company was recruited by Donaldson and Rober to loop in over 8 million creators on the campaign. BEN Group said that thousands of popular creators, including Hank Green, Safiya Nygaard, and MatPat, will partake in the campaign on launch day.
Jake Maughan, Chief of Influencer Integration at BEN, told the Daily Dot that having creators tailor their promotions to their unique style of content is an important aspect of making a campaign of this scale successful. “Every influencer is not just going to upload a video talking about it. It’s not just going to be hey, hit these three talking points, do a call to action and go donate,” Maughan said.
Instead, Maughan said, each video will be unique. For example, a gamer will play games related to the ocean, a science channel will talk about the latest anti-pollution technology, and an Instagram influencer will take a walk on their favorite beach.
For creators who are looking to contribute to nonprofit campaigns, Maughan advises them to stick to their values and what their audiences love them for.
“I think that when creators are choosing charity work they need to be authentic to who they are,” Maughan said. “Everything that Jimmy does is mindblowing levels of scale. He’s giving away Lamborghinis; he’s giving away millions of dollars. So in Jimmy-style, being authentic to who he is, he is going to clear 30 million pounds out of the ocean. Who else can do that? Nobody!”
“He’s being authentic to his passions, what he cares about. He’s also being authentic to his style, what his audience expects of him and what they’ve come to follow him for,” Maughan continued.
Maughan hopes to see a culture shift from initiatives like #TeamSeas. “When a large influencer picks something up, what you’ll see is up-and-coming influencers and mid-size influencers pick up on that because suddenly it’s cool.” Maughan said. “What is trending right now, what is considered cool, is helping the environment.”
Maughan thinks that prank audiences, in particular, have matured since the early 2010s and that creators are finding it trendier to do pranks that are beneficial to society. “We saw a lot of prank channels come out that were doing, pardon this opinion, immature pranks. We saw that audience mature. More and more influencers shifted from things that were detrimental and hurtful to things that were beneficial and helpful. I feel like there’s a responsibility for them to do it in a positive way rather than using it in a way that is going to be harmful to society,” Maughan noted.
Donaldson himself has been accused of being harmful to the creator community. In May of 2021, the New York Times reported on the allegations against Donaldson by 11 people who accused the YouTuber of creating a hostile working environment, using a slur, and verbally harassing employees. Donaldson hasn’t publicly responded to these allegations.
Despite the controversy, thousands are coming together Friday to honor the planet.
“We’ve reached out to over 8 million influencers. It’s going to be incredible to see the result. I think that’s the power of today’s economy and of the technology that we have, ” Maughan said.
BEN representatives declined to comment on allegations against Donaldson. Donaldson’s representatives did not respond to the Daily Dot’s request for a statement.