Think popular, not premium: Why the Henry & Aaron ‘It’s a snap’ video went viral

In this guest posting, YouTube’s Karen Stocks says why she thinks CIT’s gory-funny ‘It’s a snap’ ad was a hit.

One of this week’s viral hits on YouTube is a science fiction-themed ad for the Central Institute of Technology in Perth. The skit-style video commercial features CIT grads-turned-YouTube stars Henry & Aaron, who magically jump from one CIT department to the next with a snap of Aaron’s fingers. The comedy takes a distinctly darker turn when Aaron’s teleporting skills start going horribly wrong – with gruesome results.

The video holds a couple of lessons for marketers.

First of all, it’s a good example of one of the newest rules of web marketing: “Think popular, not premium.” When it comes to celeb endorsements, don’t just think pro athletes or movie stars – follow your audience.

Comedy duo Henry & Aaron are celebrities on YouTube, and they come with their own devoted following and credibility among their fans. Odds are they’ve got a pretty good following among CIT’s target audience of teenagers considering it’s a technical college education.

We’ve seen this strategy of piggybacking on YouTube stars pay off in Australia before.

Sydney-based shoe start-up Shoes of Prey worked with popular “hauler” Juicystar07 on YouTube – 18-year old beauty guru Blair Fowler – to create a shoe giveaway. Blair promoted the shoes in her video and Shoes of Prey got one of their best weeks of orders. Last year, Lonely Planet worked with Australia’s most successful YouTuber, Sydneysider Natalie Tran, whose videos have been viewed more than 400m times. Natalie’s short travel videos from Miami to the Maldives, Buenos Aires to Egypt, helped to connect Lonely Planet with her fans online.

Secondly, look at the content of the video itself. It may stray into gory territory that’s traditionally scared marketers off, but it’s earned rave reviews – tech news site Gizmodo has called it the “Best. Technical College Ad. Ever” And it’s registered more than 1.4m views online.

CIT’s head of marketing Kenley Gordon sums it up in the press release, saying that even though the ad isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, you can’t argue with its popularity: “The youth market is what Henry and Aaron know and judging from the hits, they nailed it.”

What’s interesting is that the gross-out ending delivers the shock value that’s perhaps helping this go viral, but it doesn’t interfere at all with the key messages of CIT.

The video is yet more evidence that the barriers to entry have disappeared, and the next star to shoot to global popularity on the web can come from anywhere. It’s worth considering how your brand might hitch a ride.

Karen Stocks is head of YouTube and display at Google Australia


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