YouTube has certainly revolutionized the concept of homemade video and, for better and worse, lowered the bar for what can become popular entertainment.
It's also spawned a new form of entertainment that threatens longtime vehicles for high-dollar advertising.
Case in point is Kenny Block, a professional rally driver better known for his Gymkhana driving stunts in which he does amazing things with small cars. Block's YouTube videos have been viewed more than 100 million times, making him one of the most popular viral-video stars in history.
I wrote about Block back in September but am mentioning him again in light of a very astute AutoRacing1.com column that suggests viral-video stars like Block may be a better spot for advertisers rather than well-known auto racing series like IndyCar.
Unlike racing stars like Helio Castroneves -- a two-time winner of the Indy 500 equally known for his stint on "Dancing with the Stars" -- Block has built his fame almost entirely through non-traditional channels.
And you say you've never heard of him? Well, he has 1.4 million friends on Facebook and makes millions of dollars per year in sponsorship money simply because he delivers the unorthodox and takes his product directly to consumers.
Marketer Brian Mackey's column on AutoRacing1 makes a case that smart advertisers may want to think twice about spending their millions on an IndyCar campaign -- even with sponsorship magnet Danica Patrick -- when Block has a much better recent track record of delivering more eyeballs and fan loyalty.
"So, picture yourself a marketing man. You’re being pitched on sponsorship of a certain property, be it an Indy car team (as an example) or Ken Block (hypothetically). Ken has a rally program that features limited “traditional” media compared to Indy Car’s television coverage, albeit on Versus, but it is national television cable coverage. But Block is not selling television coverage, or at least not relying on it.
"TV is merely a piece of a larger pie and a by-product of a multi-layered media campaign. What he has developed and is developing is a relevant, smart, interactive, modern and exciting platform of motorsport to offer sponsors. He utilizes today’s “media” choices extremely well and has extended his influence far beyond what might be reached via television coverage alone. His videos are creative, visual and entertaining. The response to them has been, in a word, sensational. His viral videos are among the top viewed on the internet, period.
"Now, you’re that marketing guy at a sponsor desk and you’ve just been presented with these kinds of numbers, this kind of interactive relationship, this level of commercial platform viability and you have to choose. Block or the Indy Car team……"
Let's hope the smart folks at IndyCar, network television, heck even local media, are reading this and coming up with a plan of action. Because innovators like Block aren't waiting. They're too busy stealing audience and advertisers.