Do YOU Have What It Takes to Become (and Stay) a YouTube Star?

I’ve written plenty about how to become a YouTube star (see free eBook v2 and “Beyond Viral“), but today’s post is the first of a series about the persistence of some top YouTube talent. It’s one thing to break through the clutter and develop a following, but quite another thing to maintain it… the latter takes consistency, adaptability, time, ability to spot trends, endurance, patience, loads of work, and thick skin.

You don't become a top YouTube star for talent and charisma alone. And you don't stay there long without some mysterious skills and character. So what's the common thread?

Yesterday I sent a note to about 20 top YouTube stars… focusing mostly on the independent acts who didn’t have a large fan base until YouTube (that excluded offline “real” stars, musicians, and production companies). If you’re interested in my e-mail to them, select “more” below.

The key question I asked them is simply, “what keeps you going.”

Now I’d like to share 3 of the early responses (part 1 of a series), and ask you WillVideoForFood readers the same question in a different way. What do YOU think separates the leading YouTube creators from the rest of us? Is it talent, consistency, interaction with fan base, variety, adaptability, omni-presence? Or is the underlying currency, as Producer Fred Seibert observed to me, “narcissism”? I don’t think Fred meant that word to carry the negative baggage, rather he presented it as a base characteristic of enduring entertainers… it’s what allows them to overcome the many barriers and exert uncompromising effort.

Thanks to Brittani, Rhett and Charles for giving us some insights into how passion, teamwork and community serve them. Stay tuned for more from WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster, and others. Their responses may surprise you!

1) BrittaniLouiseTaylor: Passion

“What keeps me going?  Simple, passion!! I am an actress, and I get to cast myself and play whatever role I want.  My creativity is not dependent on knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time, I am in control of my destiny. You have to stay positive and keep the passion that you had when you first started making videos.  Being on Youtube is like being in a relationship, you have to put work into maintaining it and keeping your interest. You hit patches where you are like “Uhhhh what video should I do next.”  Most of the time I have some crazy idea, but if I have to do something last minute because I have had a busy week, I do it last minute.  I am determined to have a new video every Saturday and Sunday, if it means me staying up all night that is what I’ll do! Numbers shouldn’t matter, Youtube is always changing and things will go up and down.  You have to do it foryou.  At the end of the day, did you like the video?  Are you happy with it?  That is all that matters!


2) RhettandLink: Power of Two

RhettAndLink's Rhett were determined to support themselves from their passion, and attribute their persistence, in part, to the partnership
Thanks for asking! I think the reason is three-fold, and in no particular order.  The first reason is that once web video became our primary source of income (and I’m talking almost ALL of our income from 2007-2010), we developed a business model based on fairly consistent content.  So our time and energy were all focused on making videos.

The second reason is that we keep having new ideas.  We keep coming up with stuff that we want to create.  A related reason is that our success isn’t based on one genre.  We’ve tried a lot, and a fair amount has worked. The last reason is the fact that there are two of us. We are much less likely to quit because we can motivate one another. Thanks! -Rhett

3) CharlesTrippy: Community

Hey man!! Hows it going on your end?! Ive been watching your unclenalts videos and I am like “dude, when did the kids get so old!!” insane! (your fam is the original tards! haha). What keeps me going? Yah, you kind of nailed it with your points but I think there are a few reasons that keep me motivated.

I’d say the community plays a HUGE part – just when I get discouraged or frustrated I go back and read the comments and it seems to pop me back in place, you know? I also think about the future and I love the fact that i’ll have these videos/days documented. We’ve been lucky enough to pretty much film Alli and I’s entire relationship (we started like 5 monthsor less after dating) so to have that means a lot to us. Also, I don’t want to say it’s really motivation but the fact that Youtube/Google pays it’s creators keeps me motivated because I can invest all of my time in it and still make a life for myself and my family 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy I know you posted daily (sometimes twice) for a very long time so I know you can relate. I think above all the community is the #1 source of encouragement and motivation for me…. -Charles Trippy

CharlesTrippy had a large following, and grew it to a new level when he joined his fiance Alli in the daily "Internet Killed TV" series

Coming soon: Responses I’ve already received from YouTube’s most-subscribed: WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster.

To see my note to these peeps, click more. And don’t forget to comment yourself: what do YOU think it takes?

AdAge Celebrates YouTube Sellouts

AdAge called out the biggest YouTube sellouts— those known for sponsored videos for top brands. Naturally my headline would have read “YouTube’s Most Prolific Sponsored Artists” had I been included in the list. For those of you whose nipples don’t get pointy when you hear words like “advertising, marketing, Mad Men, spot, creative brief, storyboards, USP, reach, frequency and single-minded proposition,” AdAge is kinda the Forbes for advertising junkies. It’s like Men’s Health except some straight people read it.

shaycarl t-shirt

The actual article is titled “Meet YouTube’s Most In-Demand Brand Stars,” and it’s a nice representation of the booming webstar, perhaps the central point of “Beyond Viral,” an amazing new book by Wiley & Sons coming out Sept. 21. Despite some conspicuous misses and a few odd inclusions, the article points to some interesting nuggets like MysteryGuitarMan (MGM) preference for a blank creative brief… his videos have never been better, and each one squashes my own confidence more aggressively than the next.

I would have also liked to read a “who’s who” of the companies that link stars with brands (Hitviews, Mekanism, PlaceVine, Howcast, YouTube). That’s something you don’t see covered well, and it’d be fascinating to read about the total market for sponsored videos and the dominant players.

TubeMogul helped compile this list, and you can see the webstar’s vital signs on the TubeMogul marketplace. The stats seem to be out of synch with YouTube’s counter and other sites (TubeMogul has me at 145 million, while YouTube alone counts 161 million…. so my views on Yahoo Video and other sites must be negative 16 million). It could be that once I “private” a video (like those I’ve buried because I no longer like them), I lose Tubemogul credit for them.

Before I could go to bed sulking for being overlooked by AdAge and Tubemogul, I discovered author Irina Slutsky sent me a note about this a week or so. And yeah I missed it. Just like the two e-mail offers to appear on AnnoyingOrange, one of the hottest web series by DaneBoe.

ADHD online-video creator and marketer seeks minimum-wage e-mail account manager from India.

These peeps don’t seem to read my blog, but I consider more than a few of them as friends… Trippy (he’s been in my kids’ bed), Buckley (he spanked me), Penna (wrote the Nalts theme and couldn’t get into bars at early YouTube gathersings), and Shay (he was new, we collabed, then he became twice as big as me overnight… and also got a lot more viewers). Others are more like acquaintances like Justine (who keeps a safe distance, but I made her what she is) and Smosh. Speaking of Smosh, Ian and Anthony get props for the recent Butterfinger Snackers video (“Selling Out”) that spoofed the criticism they’ve taken lately for doing a few too many sponsored videos. Heh. I did a Butterfinger video in 2006, a year before I goofed on this whole sponsored-video space with this video, which mentions Smosh. I’m guessing the Smosh kids never saw this diddy…

It’s me 3 years ago mimicking the emergence YouTube “sell outs” and the personalities who might desperately broker brand/webstar love connections... you know, the entities connecting brands and web stars. Most YouTube webstars know more about engaging an audience than turning a brand strategy into effective and persuasive messaging… so they need help. There are some exception- like Rhett and Link, who could just as well be their own boutique creative agency, as reflected in the quality of their advertainment and the highly unusual ratio of branded to non-sponsored views. I almost like their sponsored videos better than their brand-deficient ones because like a pro athlete they make it look easy.

And, lest I miss mentioning my book (Beyond Viral) in a single post, you’ll find mention of almost all of these cats inside the low-cost pages… including featured sections on Rhett & Link, Charles Trippy, Shay Butler and others.

Hey what ever happened to Buckley? I think he ignored me like Caitlin Hill (thehill88) and iJustine. Maybe Buckley needs an e-mail intern… I wonder if there are any Indians with the name Mason?

Yahoo Begs Marketers to Put TV Commercials Online. I Puke But Understand.

(Half the fun of this post is the hyperlinked videos to punctuate the copy).

Below is an ad from a trade magazine, where Yahoo let’s advertisers know their television ads can move online. My immediate reaction (after I puked and rinsed my vomit) was that Yahoo is basically teaching advertisers and brands to annoy its users. Not a good long-term strategy.

Hey, marketer. Hey, marketer. Hey, marketer. Send us your TV spots and money. Hey, marketer.

Then again, Yahoo has long shown it knows its REAL audience is not the silly fools who visit the site, but those that give it money. Yahoo has partnered with larger content providers, fetched large integrated advertising dollars like Fagin’s army of orphans, and countered You “animal farts” Tube with promises of advertising-safe content not user-generated content.

So Yahoo goes after the path of least resistance. It’s not an entirely reckless move. If you’re an online property and see the vast majority of marketing dollars going into television… why not be “an online television set”? It’s easier for marketers to understand, and for lazy media buyers to spend without a lot of work.

No seriously. Prerolls make me obsessed with brands.

Consider the mind of the marketer:

  • My VP keeps asking me to shift dollars to online. I don’t want to hassle with a dumb ass branded Facebook page.
  • Wait- I don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars customizing my content for the medium?
  • I can just have my “Agency of Record” account lead tell his production people to send the Yahoo people a compressed version of our :30 and :60 spots?
  • Then I shift some of my budget allocation? Sign me up. Yey prerolls!

Meanwhile, the consumer is silently skipping or indulging the ads with despise (even the dumbest online site won’t measure or share data on how prerolls have negative impact on brand sentiment). The hapless user/viewer is forced to watch television ads before and during the content they want. Suddenly they start drifting away from Yahoo, and looking for less obnoxious ways to get content and entertainment.

It’s a smart, strategic way to spur a shift of media dollars, even if it comes at the expense of Yahoo’s other target audience (the users and viewers).

Will it work? It might bring some fast revenue, but its sustainability requires a) the non-ad content being so incredible that Yahoo viewers tolerating this, and b) if Yahoo can use this approach as a buyer “hook,” then quickly adapts the ad content to make it engaging (something the ad promises, but is not as easy as repurposing television spots).

A more sustainable approach would be to partner with firms that can create “branded entertainment” (whatever that means to you), or set up rich media entertainment with non-intrusive but inviting ads (the Seven Echo model). But really… does Yahoo have the time or patience for that?

Exclusive: How Much Money YouTube Partners Make

{Update from 2013 reveals YouTube stars making $4 million plus per year}

How much do YouTube stars make each year? Oh for goodness sakes. Just like my same 5 YouTube videos (see right column of channel page here) represent the majority of my online views… It seems that most of WillVideoForFood’s blog traffic comes from people searching for how much YouTubers make. If you’re curious, read on. If you want to make big bucks, buy my book first. You’ll still be facing tough odds, but at least you’ll wander into the jungle equipped with some survival tools.

We YouTube “Partners” (or “stars” as I hate saying) are all contractually forbidden to share our revenue. But I’ve given hints and clues over time. For those of you who Googled your way here, I’m both a marketer/advertiser and a creator/YouTuber, so that gives me two lenses into this Da Vinci-Code like mystery. Davinci made me think of “Da Bears.”

I’d estimate there are have at least a few dozen YouTube Partners earning $100K per year. That’s great money if you’re in your 20s or 30s and have minimal costs in production or overhead (like 4 kids and a horrific mortgage). But it’s a rounding error for a professional content creator or network.

To calculate a particular Parner’s income, here are some tips:

  • You basically take the Partner’s total views for the month, multiply it by a fraction of a penny, and you have a rough idea. TubeMogul‘s Marketplace shows some of the most-viewed people (and their monthly views). But remember: the most-subscribed are not necessarily most-viewed and vice versa. YouTube doesn’t give a hoot how many subscribers you have (although that certainly helps drive views, but increasingly it seems less powerful than being a “related video”). In general, the commercial content is getting more daily views but the amateurs have a lock on subscribers.
  • Most ads are placed by advertisers based on total 1K views, but some is on a per-click basis (CPC text ads placed by Google Adwords/Adsense). Google/YouTube is usually paid by an agency or media buyer a CPM (cost per thousand, say between $5 and $25 dollars per thousand views), then shares some of that with the creator. This can be highly misleading, because:
    • Some views earn nothing (if they’re embedded and no ad follows it).
    • And increasingly advertisers are paying a high premium for specific content they commission, target, or hand select. Sometimes this might average a few bucks and others it might be much higher… $25 CMP was the published rate of InVideo ads and I know of specific integrated campaigns that command a higher premium from YouTube. Yey!
  • Another confounding variable: potty-mouthed creator turns away advertisers. So watch the ads on your Partner for a while. Are they premium InVideo ads with accompanying display (square) ads? Or are they garbage Adwords/Adsense ads?
  • The text ads may SOMETIMES be paid on a per-click basis, which can make them fruitless or profitable depending on people clicking and buying the advertiser’s product (the latter must occur, or a savvy advertiser will quickly stop the campaign that’s raping them of click dollars and not generating business). I was telling my YouTube buds to turn these off because they’re ugly and don’t make much money, but a few of them gave me a stern stare like they knew otherwise. So whatever… maybe they make money and maybe they don’t. I don’t get a breakdown on them, and they’re still ugly.
  • Then you have to factor in “sponsored videos,” where a YouTuber promotes a product or service for a flat fee (or variable based on views) via Hitviews or related companies. That can easily be more than YouTube shells out per month for ad sharing. The going rate here is incredibly wide: from $1K to $20K and higher per video.

So in conclusion:

  1. Do your own math using monthly views on TubeMogul and assuming some CPM (cost per thousand), but recognize YouTube takes a cut and some of the advertising inventory isn’t sold or is driven by keyword Google adsense text thingies. Maybe the creator/partner gets a few bucks per thousand views and maybe more or less.
  2. Use some of the assumptions above to calibrate your estimate if you’re trying to peak into the W-9s of your favorite “Stars” like Fred. There are now dozens of popular YouTube people that make a full-time living on YouTube revenue, and I’d guess a lot of $50K-$100K per year people. I am not among the full-timers. With a family of 6, I gotta have a day job too. But Shaycarl, Sxephil, Charles Trippy, Michael Buckley and many more… they’re full-time at this. If I was making the bucks I’m making via YouTube after college, I’d probably go full-time too. Fred? Let’s just say he’s got college covered, or a nice nest-egg.
  3. Before you get excited (or jealous), it’s a long haul to cashville. And if you start with the hope of making money, you’re doomed. You need to LOVE it, and be extremely patient as the road to loads of views is tougher to climb, and requires an ass-load of persistence. Start as a hobby and “just keep swimming.”
  4. Finally, there are two forces at odds that impact the sustainability of this revenue for YouTube amateurs. First, we’ll probably see continued competition from more professionally-produced content that fetches higher ad dollars because it feels safer to squeamish media buyers (see, I’m not calling them all dense anymore… only the ones that don’t read this vlog). But the good news is that dollars are projected to grow dramatically. Currently, as a marketer, I’d argue that YouTube is selling itself short.

How’s that? About as specific I can be without breaking my contract or confidence from my friends.

I know some of you peeps know more than I do, so feel free to comment below anonymously or not. Da bears.

Seven Secrets YouTube Doesn’t Want You to Know!

Seven secrets YouTube doesn’t want you to know. Revenue, profit, editorial versus algorithm, Steven Chen’s latest.

Man that headline will sell. Truth is, I am very careful about NOT revealing confidential information on this blog that I learn from Google employees, as a YouTube partner, or through my conversations with industry colleagues or creators.

But most of this is public now, or based on educated assumptions topped with a saucy tabloid-like flare. On a similar note, YouTube’s Business Blog published a refreshingly transparent POV about some YouTube myths recently. Did you know that 70% of Ad Age top 100 marketers ran YouTube campaigns in 2008?

Here are the secrets the YouTube PR folks won’t reveal:

I've got a secret
"I've got a secret" -Cindy Brady

1) YouTube is Monetizing Fewer than 9 Percent of Its Videos. But Who Cares? Kudos to Jason Kincaid for doing fancy math to figure out what percent of videos YouTube is monetizing (meaning the site is making money instead of paying to stream and bleeding money). The answer was 8.5%, which is close to AdAge’s 8.7% estimate (CNN Money claims 13%). Of course, monetizing could mean shitty lil’ penny banner buys, decent InVideo sponsorships, homepage takeovers, or premium rev-share deals. It’s long been rumored to be 3-5 percent monetization, but let’s get real. Google could turn that number to 100% by simply running Adsense indescriminately on each page. So I’d be less concerned about the percent than the profitability.

Thanks to YouTube my videos are seen 200-250,000 times a day (yey, Uncle Google). That wouldn’t happen any other way, and I’m only hoping the biz-dev folks enhance the average profit per-monetized video before it bothers chasing the impossible-to-monetize-well long tail. This is happening as we speak with new revenue boosting options.

If I got a penny per view, I’d earn $730,000.00 this year. I’m not, mkay?

2) Algorithms Squashed the Editors. Almost nothing you see on YouTube is by accident… or an editor anymore. While YouTube editors once possessed more power than most network executives (creating instant celebrities by homepage feature pixie dust), the model is now driven almost exclusively by relevancy and economics. Recently, YouTube announced content creators and small advertisers can get their videos promoted for a fee… and not just against search results. Editors continue to serve some role on the “spotlight” pages and community relations, but are not the Titans they were in 2006 and 2007. That said, we still love them deeply because our love was unrequited. Especially when they put us on Partner showcase pages.

Google-Data Robots Eat YouTube Editors' Brains for Fuel
Google-Data Robots Eat YouTube Editors' Brains for Fuel

3) YouTube Still Plays Favorite, and especially for “TV Shows.” Lately, YouTube has worked hard to pimp its “shows,” a collection of retro TV that lost its charm faster than Bazooka loses its taste. Ba-boom. There also are some YouTube partners that live on the home-page (CommunityChannel), the recommendation section for new registrants to YouTube, or are “micro-featured” everywhere. We don’t know whether the editors are doing this, or the algorithms are saying: “these guys are good YouTube-addiction starter drugs.” But we do know that if a human does have any input to this “favoritism,” the person is probably really smart, attractive and has good breath. Man I’d like to meet ’em!

4) It’s All About Your Relatives: Not Keywords and Viral. Think viral-views is the engine behind YouTube? Wrong. It’s about having a steady daily audience (like many, but not all, of the top 100 most-subscribed) and having your videos appear as a related video to popular videos… in other words, via ad, editor or algorythm, getting next to watched videos. Just like being next to a pretty girl makes you look cooler.

A visit to YouTube is often a chain reaction. You start to watch one video, and several related videos draw you deeper. Metacafe was once the master of this, and now YouTube is drawing upon its data-oriented parent, Google, to facilitate what I call the “video roach motel” model. This will get better with time, as we move from “title, tag, description” as being the view driver, to that mystical thing called “relevancy.”

What’s relevancy? I’ll give you two examples: if someone searching Google returns instantly after clicking on a result, that page is penalized on the rankings. Presumably it wasn’t what the searcher wanted. On YouTube, if a video is poorly rated and/or is viewed for a percentage that’s far below average for its total duration, it will eventually be penalized. Example two: on Amazon, there’s a high correlation between Wayne Dyer and Dr. Seuss book purchases, then those two books are related. The machine is getting smarter based on universal behaviors and your own preferences. Soon enough, my audience will be a smaller percent of YouTube but hopefully larger and more appropriate. That’s because we’ll see more of “people who like Shaycarl may also like Nalts.” (And although I may not be as funny or cute, I’ll look thinner to those viewers).

Neither of these models requires indexing the content, mind you. So in theory a video could be relevant to you without the algorithm even knowing what’s being spoken (remember years ago we thought all video would be transcribed to facilitate SEO… and that we’d be driving space cars by now?).

5) YouTube May Not be Hurting, But it’s Hungry. Google was the first to abandon banners and move entirely to a bid model. But YouTube, in a Yahoo-like move, has blitzed in past few months with homepage takeovers. Folks, there’s no reason for ads to represent 50% of the site’s homepage (above the fold) unless you’re trying to show fast revenue. It’s not Googlesque (even if CNN Money maintains that Google hearts YouTube). Of course the rice-sized brained media buyers are using this precious space to simply drive awareness instead of engagement: most of the homepage takeovers are for films, and there’s usually nothing more than a trailer to compel interaction.

CNN Money suggests all is zen-like between YouTube and Google. Hey, even if YouTube captured as much as 1 billion in annual revenue, that’s 1/30th of what Google does. Meh. So if YouTube bleeds a few hundred million to run itself ($83-$350 million in infrastructure/hosting alone, and — who knows — $250 million to maybe $500 million in a year), who cares as long as it has strategic long-term value?  Online video is white hot, and it’s just a matter of expediting the future and reducing the blood loss. Of course, all of this is speculation, and Google/YouTube aint talking.

YouTube ad

6) Why YouTube Can’t Discuss Real Profit/Loss. No, YouTube doesn’t want you knowing about its economics, but I have 3 words for the curious: stop asking, idiot. YouTube can’t over or understate financials, yet journalists whine about the company’s decision to not publish profitability (or even costs or revenue specifics). Imagine the channel conflicts disclosure would create! If it’s horrible, YouTube has dimished street credibility with media outlets, downstream distribution partners, and advertisers… not to mention shareholders. If it’s schweet, then it attracts copyright attorneys like watermelon at a picnic. But should YouTube reveal case study ROIs (with permission of advertisers) to legitimize the medium to marketers? Uh- yeah. Glad you asked. I give YouTube a D minus on this.

7) Steven Chen’s Latest Contribution. YouTube won’t likely be issuing press releases about Steven Chen, who has continued to vanish from the public light. But thankfully, Chen disintermediated his employer and shared his latest project — which includes a golf swing. Hey, he’s got billions in the bank. What would you do? Probably build a coffee bar. Or buy the car you’ve saved up for since 2005. For nostalgia, check out Chen when Google bought in.

steven chen

Shit. This post took me hours of time I could have otherwise spent trying to, um, make money. At least there will be a few comments from the back row. Right?

You Tube – Clean Up or Censorship?

hot off the press…

A YouTube for All of Us
As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with:

* Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

* Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

* Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

* More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us.

The YouTube Team

Brief Editorial:
by Zack Scott

1. Why should videos be demoted on profanity alone? Why not just hide them for people not logged in and are 18 or older?

2. Some of YouTube‘s most popular stars…Bo Burnham, Charles Trippy, sXePhil, Chris Crocker, Mark Day, etc…(name as many as you want) all have used profanity.

3. The new thumbnail idea sucks. Now what if none of the thumbnails are good?

4. YouTube sometimes features videos with profanity.


OK, now I finally understand YouTube’s “Stricter standard for mature content”

“Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages.”

They must not like sXePhil.

Alka Seltzer Viral Campaign Taps YouTube Weblebrities, Cewebrities

Rhett and Link’s Alka Seltzer road show (see previous post) hit Philadelphia recently, and it didn’t take them asking more than once to convince me and a bunch of YouTube Cewebrities to hit Pat and Gino’s to appear in this video. I picked up CharlesTrippy, ShayCarl, TheMightyThor1212 and those gals to stop by before the YoTube events. We did it for fun not profit, but Rhett and Link were classy enough to feed us, and even send us off with beer money for that night (thanks, guys).

Favorite moment? The nervous look on the face of the agency account manager as she reluctantly handed me a Speedy statue. Don’t worry, agency lady. I’ll behave with him.

Admitting my bias, I’m still putting this promotion down as one of the top three smartest viral video campaigns of 2008. It joins the ranks of BMW’s Rampenfest and Diet Dr. Pepper’s Cherry Coke promotion of TayZonday.

It’s funny, entertaining, balanced well (promotion is subtle), it’s leveraging the charasmatic appeal of two video stars who have been provided creative control of the series. Rhett and Link give us a perfect example of advertising content that is first entertaining. And the branding finds a happy medium between, on one extreme, dominating the video, and on the other relegating itself to ignored pop-ups or lost entirely. The topics are related to food, the tone revitalizes an otherwise stale brand, and Alka Seltzer’s differentiator (the plop, fizz) is not lost. Bringing back Speedy was brilliant too.

The only thing I’d say about all three of these campaigns is that they probably could have been done more cost effectively. Diet Dr. Pepper got TayZonday for a song, but had some production overhead (it was also hampered by the reality that the drink tastes like the smell of a chocolate scratch and sniff, and that’s coming from a hardcore Diet Dr. Pepper guy).

The Alka Seltzer road show was fairly shoestring for television and advertising rackets, but still could be leaner (do you need 5 or more people beyond Rhett and Link at the shoot?). I don’t know about Rampenfest, but it looks very, very expensive (guessing $500-$1,000 MM).



On NBC Today Show… this morning. maybe.

Greetings boys, girls and willvideoforfooders!
I’m your substitute, I mean “GuestOfNalts (.)” today 🙂

As you know this self proclamied viral video genius, Kevin ‘Nalts’ Nalty, started talking to himself early on, as we see in several of his more delightful films: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, AND here!


Kevin has developed a number of personalities, alter egos and of course clones over the years. This is me here in my pre-natal state along with my other clone brothers and sisters. And here is the first generation of a Nalts’ Clone. As you might have guessed he didn’t quite make it. Unfortunately, he was unable to grasp the finer points and magic of editing and fell into a very tragic incident involving a can, the local trash collector and the very large trash collector’s truck. Since, much progress has been made and as you can rightly read I am one of the current generation ‘CloneofNatls’. However, we do prefer being called ‘Spawnsof Nalts’. We have advanced far more than the initial copy, even though we still titter on lame.

As a copy and a real live SpawnofNalts it is my position to make sure that anything Nalts does or thinks when indisposed makes its way to the beautiful eyes of his darling readers, fans, lurkers and all the rest of you, ASAP!

Tomorrow (July 9), on NBC’s Today show in a segment called “Frustrated Fliers.” The interview was shot in NYC yesterday and prompted by “USAIR Sucks” and not “Crawling Through Airport.” See if you can spot the original Nalts at the airport. If not, enjoy these little vignettes to make up for the possibility of a brown out we predicted in NYC. If you missed it because you just couldn’t drag your lazy ass out of bed before 11am, you know who you are, and barring some possible genetic or technical malfunction, me and all the other SpawnsofNalts will try our best to accommodate Today the day after yesterday or sooner right here!

Oh, and bring a clothes pin!

Nalts at the airport Today!

Be glad smell-a-vision never took off!


The Secrets of Viral Video (draft presentation)

As I mentioned previously, I’m presenting “The Secrets of Viral Video Marketing” at a Yahoo! event called “Big Screen, Little Screen.” It’s this Wednesday,  July 9 in Toronto, Canada.

Want to review the deck and provide any suggestions? Obviously it won’t be self explanatory, but I thought I’d give you loyal WVFF readers a sneak preview. Here’s the Powerpoint deck in Flash via

Any suggestions?

Oh- and thanks to David Bridges for designing the Nalts flavicon (that little icon on the left of the browser window before the WVFF URL). Thanks also to Jan for installing the little booger!

Kevin is a poopie head