Normally making a campaign is simple, at least in theory. The client has the money and the final objective, the agency brings the creative and strategic vision to get there, and everyone else – the talent – are paid to do what they’re told. Of course, they’re all experts in what they do, and utterly indispensable to the final result, but they’re playing a role in a plan dreamt up by the agency.
But YouTube is another country, and working with established YouTubers is pretty different from a normal campaign.
The YouTubers are simultaneously the talent starring in the campaign, the channel owner for the audience you want to reach, their own PR agency, and another creative director on the project.
They have their own shooting approach, visual languages, in-jokes, art department favorites, editing styles, trademark motion graphics, release schedules, and KPIs – all developed over the years they’ve been building up their channels and audiences, upload by upload, fan by fan.
The concepts of reciprocity and value exchange are completely fundamental to creating a successful campaign with YouTubers, in exactly the same way that they are baked into the way the YouTubers work with each other and their audiences. Synergy and collaboration are over-used words but really do apply here.
The client brings resources.
The agency brings a wider strategic vision, more diverse creative frames of reference, higher production values – and above all, the ability to genuinely mediate between all the stakeholders involved.
The YouTubers bring the intimate connection with and knowledge of their audiences, and the ‘in-house’ creative language of their content and channel.