Sunday, October 18, 2009

Youtube is a Network Waiting to Happen

Last night I watched Ken Block’s second iteration of Gymkhana.

No this isn’t Kurt Thomas’ attempt to extend his 15 minutes of fame and woeful acting skills on the heels of his early ‘80s film Gymkata. I’m talking about the founder of DC Shoes and his foray into the world of rally racing, stunt driving and the next generation of drifting.

Ken Block is a phenomenally intuitive marketer. Certainly as evidenced by his savvy in building DC Shoes into arguably one of the strongest action sports brands ever. Perhaps second only to Burton. Perhaps it's that no one felt comfortable to tell him the rules. Perhaps he wasn't listening anyway. Whatever it is, he knows right when he sees it.

Gymkhana 1 was originally posted about 10 months ago and between various posters of the video, it garnered over three million views. Not too shabby. No doubt it was professionally shot at every level and Ken Block has money to throw at these things. Although, I’m pretty sure he’s mastered the art of OPM.

Nevertheless, while most create :60 spots and hope they’ll find viral traction on Youtube, Ken Block did it on purpose! And I know lots of people will say, “come on, we did that.” Tampax, Dove, Cadillac. Blah Blah Blah. I don’t think anyone has done it as well AND on purpose as Ken Block.

7 minutes and 32 seconds. They even call it an infomercial. At the beginning of the video note the following:

“WARNING! The following is a product advertisement. You are going to be bombarded by visuals of great looking products, and then entertained by motorsports eye candy. Do not resist the temptation to purchase the products when prompted to do so. Enjoy!”

Who the hell would watch a dumb seven minute infomercial? Well all told there have been over seven and a half million views of Gymkhana 2.

Gymkhana 2 was technically brought to you by DC Shoes but other brands who reaped the benefits of this are Subaru, Monster Energy Drinks, BF Goodrich, Rob Dyrdek/MTV and Crawford Performance.

Now there’s a Gymkhana 2.1 brought to you by MTV and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory which is a spoof of the very first Gymkhana. Another 1.3 million views. And all these people chose to watch it!

How many people are choosing to watch your spots?

Is the :60 spot going away? No. Does broadcast deserve its dominance and to make all the money? Most definitely not.

Once upon a time people laughed at cable as a network contender. I don’t care what you say. Youtube is a network waiting to happen.


  1. the one with rob dyrdek is classic... the benny hill theme nailed it.

  2. The YouTube user "channels" offer a lot of un-tapped potential as well.