GE has scored more than 2 million views in the first week of its Ecomagination YouTube challenge, putting it well on track to reach its goal of 10 million views within the first three-months of the campaign.
The contest follows an increasingly familiar structure: Pay established YouTube celebrities to make creative videos centering on your brand that in turn ask their fans to get involved on their behalf.
In this case, GE has recruited 15 video stars, including Brittani Louise Taylor, DaveDays and Barely Political, to make videos in which they ask their fans to suggest a "green" activity they can perform in a subsequent video. They are also asking their fans to take pictures that showcase their commitment to sustainability and upload them to Flckr.
In turn, GE is donating money to a charity that provides clean drinking water to impoverished areas.
The formula would seem to work because the pleas for participation come not from the company itself, but trusted cult figures with devoted followings and established distribution channels. And like others who've gone before them, GE gives the content creators wide latitude to create whatever they want within the bounds of the campaign. (The YouTube celebs are also required to prominently disclose their collaboration with the brand.)
Carl's Jr. boosted sales of its Portobello mushroom burger last year by paying a handful of YouTube celebs to make videos of themselves eating the sandwich, then asking fans to vote for their favorite video (at least one of the participants from that campaign, Smosh, is also part of the Ecomagination bid). And in Feburary of this year, GE asked six YouTubers to make videos about healthy living.
Howcast helped coordinate the YouTube portion of the Ecomagination campaign, as well as GE's February YouTube outreach. BBDO is the creative agency behind the Flickr contest, as well as the mainstream Ecomagination campaign, which includes TV spots and print ads.
YouTuber ShayCarl's kick-off video for GE:
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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