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Latest News | 04 Mar 2019

How Any Brand Can Get YouTube Advertising Wrong, Even YouTube

YouTube Rewind

Since the official YouTube Rewind 2018 didn't go over well (currently the most disliked video of ALL TIME!) let's talk about some 2018 videos that definitely do deserve some recognition.

As marketers, finding ways to capture audiences is baked into our DNA. But, the ways that people consume content changes every year, which means that businesses that want to stay ahead of the pack need to anticipate global changes and understand current trends.

For this year's rewind, we're looking for ultra-creative videos that capture audiences, engaged them heavily, and created headlines outside of the platform (always a plus!)

Let's dissect this year's winners, and find out what makes them tick.

1. To Our Daughter - Kylie Jenner

Sure, everything Kylie Jenner does is going to get views. But, "To Our Daughter" didn't just get views. It went full-blown viral. Sitting at 81 million views and counting, this video does what every marketer dreams of doing. It pulls at viewers heartstrings.

People can process emotions 5x faster than they can process cognitive information. In fact, a 2016 Nielson study showed that ads with emotional triggers pulled in 23% more revenue than non-emotional ads!

Create content that people can bond with on an emotional level. It grabs views and, more importantly, it brands effectively.

2. Real Life Trick Shots 2 - Dude Perfect

Want to know what people love? Small improvements to everyday routines. Dude Perfect is a global phenomenon. But, most of their videos involve crazy basketball throws or over-the-top football stunts. But, "Real Life Trick Shots 2" doesn't include throwing basketballs off of skyscrapers. It's just people throwing everyday objects perfectly into containers.

There's actually a pretty cool phenomenon behind this.

Johan Wagemans, a professor of experimental psychology at the Belgian University of Leuven, has this to say.

"I think in the times in which we live, we are so inundated with so many things, that to be able to bring order to things that don't necessarily go together, to make them fit, provides some sort of comfort in a world where there's all sorts of different things coming at you."

Giving people a better way to do ordinary things is an incredible feat. Dude Perfect shows feats that involve someone perfectly throwing a guitar onto a hook or throwing a match across the room to light a candle.

If you can show users that your product can make their everyday routines easier and better, you've got a hit on your hands.

3. We Broke Up - David Dobrik

Another emotional trigger video. While Kylie's video was all about the happy, David Dobrik's video brought the sad. David and Liza are two popular YouTubers who were in a relationship. "we broke up" is, well, their break up.

As more advertisers move towards emotional advertising as a means to draw in users, we've seen a ton of ads play off of sad emotions. MetLife Hong Kong pulled in 16 million views with their "My dad's story" video. In fact, studies show that tissue-grabbing emotional advertising is 2x more effective than traditional advertising.

4. Walmart Yodelling Kid

Sure, yodelling sounds interesting. But, the main takeaway of "Walmart kid yodelling" is that a kid is doing something impressive. The feeling of everyday people doing extraordinary things has a common thread throughout marketing.

Red Bull has been using the "people doing the amazing" niche for a while now, and it works.

Here's the crazy thing.

Even if you simply show people doing incredible things without ever mentioning your product, people are going to think your product creates those amazing events.

Does Red Bull give you wings? I'm pretty sure it doesn't,

Does Red Bull have a valuation of $10.4 billion from convincing customers that it gives you wings? You bet!

If you can connect your product to incredible things, customers will bite.

5. Do You Hear "Yanny" or "Laurel"? (SOLVED with SCIENCE)

Yanny vs. Laurel took the internet by a storm. Which do you hear? Either way, ASAPScience's "Yanny or Laural" video racked up 52 million views trying to tell you.

People love figuring fun things out. Sure, some people find linear algebra interesting. But, who doesn't want to know that a Venus Flytrap can eat a cheeseburger (thanks Snapple!)

Like Snapple and Laffy Taffy, brands have been leveraging interesting fact and rapidly digestible science for years. Those same tactics work just as well for videos. Explain a unique concept or give users interesting topics, and they will eat your content up.

6. Portugal v Spain - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ - MATCH 3

Is anyone surprised that a 2-minute-10-second clip of Portugal vs. Spain racked up 68 million views? Probably not. I know what you're thinking. What could you possibly learn from this video?

Big events still sell. Sure, we all want to get disruptive, and growth hack our way to glory. But, if you fork out the money it takes to get a World Cup ad, you're going to rake in money.

Sure, it's not the leanest strategy. But, it still works.

7. Build Swimming Pool Around Underground House

Who wants to watch someone shovel up mud and carry buckets of water for 13 minutes? Apparently, 91 million people do.

Primitive Survival Tool's "Build Swimming Pool Around Underground House" video taps into a fundamental marketing question. How can you show people uninteresting things, interestingly?

Maybe you're trying to market niche metal rods for a specific manufacturing sector. How in the world do you make that engaging?

Primitive Survival Tool uses heavy ASMR sounds, tons of cuts that blur out the boring parts, and plays on people want to be simple again.

We all spend lots of time online and on our phones. The idea of going back to nature is appealing. Sure, your product may not be nature based. But, using cuts, sounds, and videography to sell something that's not necessarily "flashy" can be an incredible tool for certain businesses.

8. Cobra Kai Ep 1 - "Ace Degenerate" - The Karate Kid Saga Continues

YouTube's "Cobra Kai" series is an action-comedy-drama mix that's been going over exceptionally well. The first episode has 52 million views.

What can we learn?

First, Cobra Kai is typically only available on YouTube Red, but they aired the first episode free. You air something for free, and you're going to get plenty of viewers. The same goes for marketing. Free samples, coupons, deals, etc. are all great ways to quickly engage users.

Also, unlike the rest on this list, Cobra Kai is story driven. I haven't touched on story-driven marketing yet, so I'm glad this video racked up enough views to grab a spot on the list.

Finding a way to tell your brand's story is crucial in the modern marketing world. Walker predictsthat brand will overtake both price and product as the key business differentiator by next year. Telling your story is a great way to imprint your brand in consumers brains, and hopefully forge meaningful connections with them — which always helps with lifetime value.

9. Behan Bhai Ki School Life - Amit Bhadana

This Indian comedy sketch does a couple of things well. Those things are prominently displayed in "Behan Bhai Ki School Life - Amit Bhadana." First, it uses sounds to really sell scenes (which also important in marketing). Second, it creates relatable, everyday characters.

While I focused on extreme characters in the Yodeling video, the "everyperson" is also an important role. People love seeing characters they can relate to.

Have you tried making videos that include different genders, races, ages, etc.?

Google has been playing around with inclusive marketing and seeing incredible results.


This surreal comedy mixes Adult Swim vibes with high-production action. For marketers, the surreal angle has been around for a while. Old Spice was using this style (via Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim from Adult Swim) in their series of commercials that went viral.

Have you tried getting experimental with your marketing campaigns? If you're running into a wall, try going through it, not around it. Sometimes strange, weird, quirky videos get incredibly popular and have terrific engagement. Old Spice, Doritos, Dollar Shave Club, the list of big brands using this type of marketing goes on-and-on. This works particularly well if your product is, well, kind of boring. Razers aren't fascinating, but Dollar Shave Club's razor commercial certainly was.

Final Thoughts

Each year, YouTube is filled with interesting, compelling, and strange videos that capture our attention. For marketers, these videos should act as beacons of research. How can you capture attention better? What can you steal from these viral videos? Winning on social media requires a keen eye towards trends and a constant urge to be better than your last campaign?

Do you want to create sensational YouTube videos? Are you ready to take your marketing strategy to the next level? Contact us.

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By Mathew Slavica
04 Mar 2019

Founder Digital Stand. We are a Sydney social media agency working with enterprise clients and disruptive brands. We bring clarity to social media and help you become effective fast.

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