It’s one of the most extreme versions of a product sponsorship, and it’s called “Epic Rap Battle of Manliness.” YouTube sensations Rhett & Link (Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal), held back no punches on this high-production music video designed to entertain and promote Build.com (and its YouTube channel BuildDotCom. The project is part of a trend toward higher production values as new YouTube channels up their game.
In a BusinessWeek article, the duo’s representative “The Collective” was highlighted. “We’re facing increased competition,” says Link Neal. “We want to continue to stay relevant. That means doing bigger, better things. We can’t be limited anymore by what the two of us can conjure up.”
The video can be seen below, and here are some fun facts:
- It was shot using the coveted RED camera (which can cost up to $13K).
- There was a film set built to accommodate the video, and had special effects help from Geoff Alderete.
- Rhett said, years ago, he might have created smoke by lighting a paper towel and blowing it out. But Geoff showed them how to create fire using quick char and frankincense. “I will say that once we figured out how much we liked smoke, we probably went a little bit smoke crazy,” said Link.
- The video has been seen about 580,000 times as of this writing, and has more than 30,000 “likes.”
- Rhett and Link posted “behind the scenes” that identifies the “fake wives” as Lauren Sweetstar (Winter Bones). “This is kinda a step down from Winters Bone. It’s like two bone heads,” said Rhett. Click “more” below to see full cast.”
- A scene with Link bearing animal attire was actually shot in the home of Chuck Testa (who was featured in a Rhett & Link video (seen more than 12 million times) that quickly became a web meme. “Nothing says dead animals like Chuck Testa,” said Link.
- The duo, from North Carolina and now living in LA, provide instructions on making a cheese hose (which appears in the sponsored spot, but is not available at Build.com).
- NicePeter and EpicLoyd, creators of “Epic Rap Battles of History” appear as joggers. They appeared to “help legitimize this effort,” said Link.
Written, Directed, Produced, Edited and Performed by Rhett & Link
Director of Photography: Alexander Alexandrov
Camera Assistant: Joel Gerlach
Art Department and Special Effects: Geoff Alderete
Assistant to Art Department: Larry Ketchum
Production Assistants: Brandon Scullion, Gene Shaw and Jason Inman
Visual Effects (MacGyver): Joel Gerlach
Beat by: Sean B., Half Pynt Productionz (http://www.sbtracks.com)
Craft Services: Jessie McLaughlin
Rhett & Link: Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal
Joggers: NicePeter (http://www.youtube.com/nicepeter) and EpicLloyd (http://www.youtube.com/EpicLloyd)
Rhett’s wife: Lauren Sweetser (http://www.facebook.com/laurensweetser)
Link’s wife: Taryn Southern (http://www.youtube.com/TarynSouthern)
Rhett’s son: Shepherd McLaughlin
Rhett’s baby: Lando Neal
Chuck Testa: Chuck Testa