Send in the Clowns… Star Power Moves to Online Video

I used to find news like this article (about star power being tapped for web video) threatening. Now I find it cute. Because the monetization model doesn’t exist to justify stars. Will Ferrell makes more in an hour than I’ve made in my 2 years and 37 million views.

The industry needs to mature a lot before it can justify stars unless it’s a loss-leader marketing trick to attract people to another place (and remember only about 2% of us will click a link in a video and visit another site). So unless P&G is going to subsidize it in the name of advertising, the stars will be left with some viral success and paychecks that push them right back to film and television.

You’ve been under a rock if you haven’t heard of Pearl the Landlord, but you’re a rare beast if you’ve been back to Funny or Die more than twice since.

39 Replies to “Send in the Clowns… Star Power Moves to Online Video”

  1. When will advertisers realize that they’re starting at the wrong end? The people who have the most influence over where I go or what I buy are the people closest to me.

    So naturally, to these execs, the perfect plan is to ignore the semi-popular people I live to watch, and in the eyes of these companies is to get someone so far outside of my circle of close-knit trust as possible. They could have put a camera on some unheard of guy in Bangladesh and I would have felt a closer connection to the product.

    Seriously, advertisers, pay attention to this next line: For the same price you spent on one Will Ferrell video, you could have generously paid the number 10-50 comedians on YouTube to sport your product, and with 40 popular “real people” advertising for you, you might not get as many upfront hits, but I can guaran-dang-tee you that every single hit you did get would be 100 times stickier in the long haul than tossing a celeb on the screen.

    Also, there’s always the chance of backlash. For example, when I learned that the intro music for the “viral Will Ferrell video” was a song by’s Kevin McLeod, and that nobody a-asked his permission to use that song for an ad, nor b-gave him the two stinking lines of credit he asks of people who use his stuff, I got mad. Now I’m intentionally planning NOT to return to Funny or Die because of this. For crying out loud, the guy is giving away a service worth big bucks, and all he asks is a line crediting him, and they couldn’t give him that?

    If you mow over my friends and acquaintances for the sake of pushing an a-list Hollywood celeb, I will never trust your product again.

  2. Ack, I was obviously not awake at the time of writing post #2. The video I was referring to wasn’t “The Landlord” (i.e. the video being discussed in the quote box) but Ferrell’s “Answers Internet Questions” video which is obviously popular only due to Ferrell’s fame, as it wasn’t really any more funny than most other content creators I know.

    All the same, my point remains unchanged. Ferrell (or his producer) lost any respect I might have had for them when they managed to steal a free product. If you’re making money from someone else’s hard work, you aught to at least give them the small penance they ask for in exchange.

    And for not paying his dues, I now refuse to buy any more of his films.

  3. I don’t know how you beat the force of TV it’s had what, 60 years to grow – everyone’s gotta TV or knows how to work one or where to find one and news travels fast.

    The internet proper’s been around since Netscape – I’d say with the 14.4, so that’s around 1994, 15 years? – it’s still got a ways to go, even though the web offered so much more from the start. It’s overwhelming, you’re dealing and competing with every person’s 1000 ideas, but I’m also thinking there may be some blow back in the end.

    I dumped my TV because there was way too much stupid. The net has plenty of stupid, but compared to TV it has so much more of everything. Still, the overload of information and the human need to socialize out doors may triumph yet.

    I’m pretty sure the next big move will be internet brain implants and once you cross that biological line you’re going to need more than a pop up to get in. You’ll actually have to control knowledge and be willing to share ONLY if the user or “netbrain” allows some advertisement to play in a certain part of the cortex while they enjoy what they came to read. The potential for heads exploding at the mall or on the subway is pretty awesome.

  4. @6, LOL at Netscape. I remember seeing the Netscape icon on my computer at work 10+ years ago thinking, what the hell is a Netscape browser…let alone the internet. Interesting. Then people found out you could watch porn at work! You’ve never seen a fat ass mexican fly out of a cube so fast! I wasn’t having any part of that! LOL! Ahhhh, the good ol’ days!

  5. I remember going out to see “The Net” (with Sandra Bullock) in theatres and thinking to myself “Ha, ordering your pizza on the Internet? Suuure.”

    I gotta go – I just got my email confirmation that Papa Johns will be here in 15 minutes.

  6. Nalts you jerk! I was just about to head out to go watch the Red Sox and you put this spot-on post up! I’ve been saying this for a while – the novelty of stars on the web will wear off. The big deal about Pearl The Landlord sketch wasn’t that Will Ferrell did a sketch online – it was that the world’s biggest comedy star did a sketch online… FOR THE FIRST TIME. There’s only one first time (got that Lonelygirl15?)

    This will wear off too. Money model will need to change. Sooner or later it will – I mean, hey, they have full length stuff on youtube today (but haven’t I seen longer form there before?)

    It’s all so confusing… 🙂

    GO SOX!!!

  7. @8

    there’s an even nerdier way to order pizza, you can order pizza via a command line. but y’all aren’t nerdy enough to understand a command line, aren’t ya? holy shit, y’all might be olde enough to where you would know what a command line is, or be olde enough to spell old “olde”.

  8. Why is everybody writing these long-ass comments? I can’t keep my eyes open that long.

    Bonk. That’s the sound of my head hnitting the top of my desk.

  9. @10 & 13,

    I agree, it was funny. And had he not gone and stolen music from one of “us” for his most recent “blog” I would have been as indifferent to The Landlord as I used to be. But when a guy who has more money than than the Almighty Himself can’t even say thank you, and steals art from someone who only asks that people simply credit his name to the work, I suddenly lose my desire to ever patronize anything he touches again.

    I don’t like seeing the average content creator get kicked around and abused because some hot-shot hollywood type with an ego the size of Texas doesn’t want to clutter his video with those pesky credits. Really? Hellooooo! If Ferrell was in a movie, do you think he’d be okay if they just forgot to put his name in the credits, or they misplaced his paycheck? I doubt it.

    He’s a bully, and that’s all there is too it. And I’ll never appreciate his humor like I used to because of that.

  10. while the money may not be there to keep Will Ferrel, Michael Madsen, Rosario Dawson, Brad Garret et. al (et nasium) happy doing online video work solely, I think that there is something to having celebretries in online video content.

    most the folks here are early adopters and as you mentioned in your previous post about new Youtubers vs. established Youtubers, their expectations are different than the masses of late adopters flocking to online video. Where there are eyes watching there is money to be made, but there is a time asapect here, too

    The 37 million pairs of eyes you’ve earned over past 2 + years will probably be worth less than those some 37 million in the coming years, because the monitization models are just being hammered out now

    but what the hell do I know (don’t anyone answer that…)

    th e

  11. @6
    “The potential for heads exploding at the mall or on the subway is pretty awesome.”

    YES!! I wana be there when THAT starts happening! I’ll be safe, because as an early adopter, I will have already unplugged by then (early adopters are often early opt-outers).

    For instance, I used to draw pictures for my videos. I soon found out what a fool’s errand that was (click) and opted out of trying to bring my art to the net.

  12. It looks like I’m one of those rare beasts. In fact, I even uploaded a video or two to Funnyordie. About 2 months later, I’ve got 11 views, and a Die rating. I just want to assume it’s just Will Ferrell, Judd Apatow, Adam McKay and all of them playing a silly joke on me…

  13. I upload to FoD when I remember to. Which hasn’t been for at least 3 months. I made a cartoon about Steve-O from Jackass finding religion (because he did and had been against religion for a long time prior) and the guy found it on FoD and embedded it on – which I noticed that before you play an embed from there if has the description displayed over the thumb frame.

    So I changed the description to “go to to subscribe to more like this” and wouldn’t you know it? I got a couple hundred new subscribers one day.

    I wish FoD was on tubemogul so the LA types who think FoD is relevant would happen across videos of mine in such a manner.

  14. @17 “early adopters are often early opt-outers”

    nothing on-line beats what I’m already doing, (cept participating with all of you of course).

    I like the video – looked at his other art – guy’s working through some stuff. If only we could all make a healthy living at what we love to do, or are my expectations too low?

    @16 Don’t underestimate the Digital TV Transition

    I’ve been looking through films from the 1930s to see what people back then found entertaining. I think we’re ready for a revival if history repeats.

  15. Please support more high risk “loans” to low credit po’ people like me (paid for by you lowlife taxpayers) by voting Democratic. Barney Franks and Santa Dodd want you to.

  16. If you had purchased $1,000 of AIG stock one year ago, you would have $42 left. With Lehman, you would have $6.60 left. With Fannie or Freddie, you would have less than $5 left.

    But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling refund, you would have had $214.

    Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

  17. @29

    If you purchased $1000 worth of ANY stock a year ago, when the market was still climbing, but storm clouds could be seen on the horizon, you were a fool.

    If you purchase $1000 worth of any reasonably stable company’s stock today, however, in 10 years you might have $10,000. That’s the principle that made Warren Buffet the richest man on earth, anyway.

    And if you’re a big wig CEO right now, you don’t have to do anything, because I’ll be giving you $1000 to pad your pasty white executive butts, thanks to uncle sam.


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