Making Branded YouTube Videos

by Matt Koval

Producing branded videos on YouTube is tricky business.  Much of your audience is there because they’re sick of television ads and all that is corporately produced.   They like the personal engagement they have with their favorite YouTube star, and consider that person a friend.  But when that friend turns around and sells them something, watch out.  Creators can quickly find themselves in very hot water.  Perhaps it’s akin to having an old friend call to supposedly catch up… and then try and rope you into a pyramid scheme.

My theory on branded videos is that viewers don’t mind being sold, as long as you 1) be honest about it, and 2) entertain their pants off.  An example of the latter is Volkswagen’s viral hit with the little Darth Vader.  The title of the video even includes the word “commercial” (part 1 of my theory).

I’m not saying I entertained the pants off my audience with “Brain Game Showdown”, but I think I delivered a solid Fupler episode, and perhaps a little extra.  I also didn’t try and hide the fact that it was sponsored by Verizon.  Not disclosing such sponsorship can lead your audience to assume it was a trick, and that can get ugly. Should I have told my subscribers up front? Perhaps. But that could have also put them on the defensive, and hey… that’s no way to start watching a video.

Incorporating such a technical service, “4G LTE”, into this traditional setting wasn’t easy, but that’s where good ole Kevin Fupler comes in handy….

What do you think? Is there another way to soften the branded-video-blow? Feel free to comment below!


Rob January 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm

I know I’m way late on this but just recently found your channel on YouTube. Perfect placement on Verizon product. Didn’t take away from video at all. Nicely done. Please make more videos! There awesome and I enjoy them alot. Better than 90% of YouTube for sure.

Kimmai November 7, 2011 at 5:10 am

Hi Matt,
I know this video is a bit old (in internet years), and this post too for that matter ^^;
Well I just watched this video and wanted to say that I wasn’t bothered by the product placement at all. Especially since at the end you had the son lose. To me that was saying, “even if you have all the technology in the world, you still need your brain” or well …. some general knowledge sense. For me that kind of undermined the usefulness of the “product” somewhat, but in turn made it more honest. I really appreciated that it was a product placement but not a “Hey! This thing is awesome! It’ll solve all your problems! GO BUY IT!!” :)

Veronica July 9, 2011 at 11:56 pm

This is really interesting to me… never knew so much thought went into it. Matt, you pulled the video off beautifully.

Mathias July 8, 2011 at 11:58 pm

BTW Sorry for the Typos, I was writing this on my iPhone.

Mathias July 8, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Hey Matt :)
I totaaly agree with your Opinion.
The new Fuplers Video didn’t feel like a commercial to me until your showed the cellphone. But – meh, you gotta pay your bills, eventually buy New equipment and props and it was a very smart product placement – Why should I even bother? It was a hell of a lot better than a “regular” Commercial like that Volkswagen one you mentioned. But on Youtube, there are a lot of douchebags when it comes to earning Money with Videos. I have to say – I find Commercials right in a Video like that Netflix Subscription Crap annoying. It interrupts the Video and it does not give me any free trial at all because I am from Europe. And having to see this Ad annoys me the F out (like on Hard News, EpicMealTime, RWJ Fact of the Day) – But if Product Placement is the Way to bring your audience more Fuplers – its a Win-Win Situation.

Matt Koval July 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Thanks Vanessa! Keep it real is right.

Vanessa July 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I loved it! I was wondering how you would tie in that phone to the Fuplers and it was a brilliant production! Way to go fellow YT NextUper! I totally agree with you.. I think if you keep it real with your viewers you will be surprised how open and accepting they are to the ad. They know everyone’s gotta eat!… and when you are as entertaining as Matt Koval you could get away with a lot. :o)

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