Byravee Iyer
Sep 22, 2016

Kurt Hugo Schneider’s tips for advertising success

One of the world’s biggest YouTube stars told a rapt Spikes Asia audience about why he was drawn to the platform and his creative approach to music production, branded entertainment and filmmaking.

Kurt Hugo Schneider’s tips for advertising success

SPIKES ASIA - Kurt Hugo Schneider started out on YouTube in 2008. He has since notched up 7.4 million subscribers, 40 million monthly views and 1.4 million Facebook likes.

He attributes his success to developing content that people want to share.

“I would first upload covers [remakes of songs by other artists], but felt that it wasn’t a good enough reason to share a video,” Schneider said. His first viral video was a Michael Jackson cover, which he later changed into a medley of 15 Michael Jackson songs. He then got a friend, Sam Tsui, to sing it and used six clones of him in the video. “It was a mashup done in an innovative way, using material people were familiar with," he said. "It was a great performance of an innovative medley done in a visually cool way.”

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What makes a video successful

According to Schneider, visuals are critical. “A lot of musicians tend to focus on the music first," he said. "But people take in visuals first.”

Playing around with different techniques proved to be the next stepping stone. In ‘Just a dream’, the 28-year-old used a split-screen technique to stand out. That video quickly became one of the most viewed videos for Schneider.

The YouTube star has worked with a host of brands including Coca-Cola, Timex and Mars. So far, there has been no media behind these videos, but each one has generated over 1 million views.

“Lot of times when branded content appears on YouTube it doesn’t perform to standard, but when it’s made authentically it does well,” Schneider said.

Make the brand essential to the video

Schneider signed his first brand deal in December 2012 with Sprint and Leo Burnett and Digitas. Few things make this video effective, he said.

“I made the brand essential for the concept. If the brand can be removed from the video then it is not a good advertisement.”

Sometimes advertisers, in an attempt to make sure the viewer doesn’t have a negative experience, tries to make the advertising subtle, he cautioned.

“The opposite has been true for me," he said. "Even though the product is on the screen 100 percent of the time, it doesn’t feel like an ad because it is used in an authentic way.”

Make the brand cool

Schneider also urged advertisers to use the brand in an innovative way that people haven’t thought of before.

“For me it’s about making music," he said. "Advertisers tend to have a linear train of thought. Having people eat M&M’s isn’t the solution. I had to use the brand in a way that people have not seen before."

Make a great video

People forget this obvious fact, he warned. “But if there’s no reason why someone wants to share your video it won’t do well," he said.

For the launch of Canon’s Vixia Mini X, Schneider worked on a video to show people how even a cheap camera can make something look beautiful and cinematic. That particular video received 15 million views.

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