Danny was an average kid. He was growing up in a small, rural town in Scotland, and there wasn’t a whole lot to do. He and his friends would ride their bikes around, which meant from one end of the street to the other, then back again. This trip went pretty quickly. Danny soon grew bored of this and began jumping over curbs, hopping onto benches, and making the most of his landscape. And he got pretty good.
Danny eventually left his parent’s home and moved into a flat with a mate. His mate was pretty good with a camera and was pretty impressed with Danny’s riding. He suggested that they spend a few days goofing off, filming Danny doing some silly bicycle tricks. They spent an evening editing the thing down, added in an interesting track from some up-and-coming rock & rollers, and popped the thing up on YouTube.
Then they had a pint and went to bed.
The next morning they got a call from the BBC asking for an interview with Danny. Then The Guardian called. For the rest of the day they answered the phone. It seems that their little video had gotten some views overnight – a few hundred thousand. Someone saw the video, shared it with a friend, then they shared it, then they shared it…Everyone had to see this video; the crazy Scottish kid on the bicycle doing stunts.
Danny MacAskill still lives on the Isle of Skye, but he is sponsored by Red Bull, gets all of his bikes from Inspired Bicycles, has been featured in a Volkswagen commercial, and Inspired Bicyles, his first video, has been viewed over 30 million times. He released another in 2011, Way Back Home, that has over 20 million views.
A similar story is Jeb Corliss. Corliss is a BASE jumper and skydiver. He had an edge in that he is well known in the extreme sports world, and has appeared on ESPN and was for a time the host of a show on The Discovery Channel, Stunt Junkies. His Discovery career was cut short when he was arrested for trying to jump off of the Empire State building, but it hasn’t affected his exposure. In August of 2011 he filmed himself jumping off of a mountain in the Alps and posted it to YouTube. He was wearing a “wing suit” which allowed him to glide like a flying squirrel, and the video showed him flying just over the ground, through canyons, and often below tree level. That one has over 15 million views. Corliss is recovering from an jump gone bad where he broke both ankles, several toes, his fibula, and tore his ACL. The video of his unsuccessful jump from Table Mountain in South Africa has been up for a couple of months and has over 200,000 views.
But you don’t need to be a crazy cyclist or a BASE jumper to take advantage of video. Granted, a visit to the Red Bull site offers a ton of great videos of skaters, surfers, skydivers, and other extreme sports, but other brands have seen great results from video. Old Spice ran a series of shorts that saw 1.4 million views in a few months, their sales went up over 100%, and it didn’t cost them an arm and a leg. While most television ads run in the six figures for a national campaign, theirs was rumored to run about $250,000.
You don’t even have to necessarily make a commercial. The key is to make something engaging that people will want to watch. That has been the key to the success of Red Bull and Old Spice. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, right behind Google. People are twice as likely to watch a video than they are to read text. If you started watching right now it would take you over a thousand years to watch everything on YouTube, and 48 hours of video is added EVERY MINUTE. It is also an easy way to share video to your other social outlets, and makes a convenient platform for embedding video into a website.
People like to watch stuff. It’s why they’ve started putting televisions in their kitchens and bathrooms. So what are you waiting for? Strap on your parachute, jump on your bicycle, and take off!