April 16th, 2007
Last week YouTube got a visit from a 19-year-old New Yorker who wanted his video on their front page. Brandon Fletcher says he tried emailing YouTube, but when that failed, he bought an airplane ticket to Silicon Valley. "If you believe in something — do whatever it takes to make your dream come to reality," Brandon announced grandiosely on his MySpace page. But he's also keeping a video blog of the journey — which of course puts additional pressure on YouTube.
Is this the latest craze — storming a corporation's headquarters and demanding that they listen to you?
Brandon says he was inspired by Aaron Stanton, a 25-year-old developer who pushed and shoved his way into a meeting with YouTube's owners last month. Aaron chronicled his surprise visit in a video blog called Can Google Hear Me?, and ultimately the company invited him in to hear his big idea. It was only a matter of time before someone else tried the same trick. One of Aaron's newly-recruited programmers even emailed Brandon to offer him encouragement.
But not everyone condones the tactic. After wishing him luck, Rocketboom's Joanne Colan added cynically (but ever-so-sweetly) "Try not to freak them out or anything." And one reporter even asked Brandon, "Why should you get special treatment?" (Brandon responded that his video has "a substantial amount" of subscribers, "so I'm basically getting to the bottom of it to see why it hasn't been featured yet.")
Does Brandon have "a substantial amount" of subscribers? He refused to identify his special video for ZDNet, acknowledging only that it's a reality show. But searching on the name of Brandon's enterprise pulls up a casting call for an online dating show, an ad for that dating show on CraigsList, and a page for the dating show on YouTube. (Which someone named Brandon has submitted to Digg.) And more importantly: that show has just 71 subscribers.
Nevertheless, Brandon appears undeterred. After touching down at the San Francisco airport, Brandon's first order of business was hiring a videographer to make sure his march on YouTube was documented. "I'm staying with a friend from high school," he told us at the time, and he spent over a week in the Bay Area before he was finally ready to make his move. "I woke up to a barrage of negative e-mails and comments full of criticism," Brandon wrote on his blog, "which only fueled my desire to succeed even more." Last Thursday the glorious moment came, and he posted the results in his video blog.
"'Security' doesn't let us off the elevator."
Brandon writes that "people from the YouTube office recognized me, and let me know that EVERYONE knew about the site and were waiting on my arrival..." He talked to two employees who gave him some t-shirts, some advice, and some free bottled water. But they both refused to be filmed.
Brandon says he showed them his idea, and they loved it. But he still hasn't made YouTube's front page. Which means he'll have to decide his next move for promoting the show: either creating another campaign — or pestering YouTube some more.
It's surprising that there's been such tolerance of what is now a de facto open-door policy for anyone who wants to use guerrilla tactics to tap into the rock star-making power of GooTube. Sure, Brandon was met by security and there's no indication that his gambit is gonna get his video on the home page of YouTube, but nonetheless, to anyone who hears or sees his story, it can only be encouraging that he got as far as he did without being man-handled by surly armed guards.
In his video blog he announces that "the mission isn't complete yet. I guess the journey never ends."
Good luck, Brandon.
But try not to freak them out, or anything.
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