This story was first published on ADWEEK
When Google brought YouTube fashion vlogger Bethany Mota onstage during its Brandcast presentation in New York this past May, many in the audience had no idea who she was. But hundreds of screaming teens had waited hours outside Madison Square Garden to get a glimpse of Mota. While her die-hard fan base (she calls them “Motavators”) hang on her every word, she was still unknown to the majority of the American public over 30.
Six months later, Mota is practically a household name, and not only because she’s competing for glory on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. Her step into the limelight can be traced back to PHD’s groundbreaking offline campaign to highlight the star power and marketing potential of YouTube influencers (another Google agency, Essence, handled the digital media strategy behind the campaign). The first part of the initiative, launched in April, featured three of the video platform’s top content creators—beauty tutorial expert Michelle Phan, baking wiz Rosanna Pansino and Mota.
“All the skeptics, nonbelievers, fence sitters were able to witness true YouTube fandom in action,” says David Broad, PHD’s global strategic lead.
PHD promoted the girls in TV spots in shows like AMC’s Mad Men, NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s Modern Family, as well as national print ads. In New York and Chicago, their images took over outdoor displays, one wrapping a New York subway train. In-person appearances, including Mota walking the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards and Pansino giving away Rovio-sponsored Angry Birds cupcakes, tapped into the passion of their fans.
YouTube reports that awareness for Phan, Pansino and Mota increased fourfold, and PHD notes that viewership on their channels shot up 72 percent, with social followers jumping 171 percent. More importantly, key advertiser perception increased 10.5 points. The boost aligned with the video giant’s newest ad offering, Google Preferred, a program that lets marketers advertise on the top 1 or 5 percent of YouTube videos. The campaign’s success led YouTube to launch a second and third wave, the latter of which branched into six international markets.
“Seeing the blocks of fans waiting to bake cupcakes with Rosanna, see Bethany on the red carpet or take a selfie with Michelle is awe-inspiring,” says Anna Bateson, YouTube’s director of consumer marketing. “Their growth and success speaks volumes, and I look forward to seeing the many more endeavors they tackle.” -Michelle Castillo