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Brands buying views to boost content is like ‘lying to yourself, like plastic surgery’ says YouTuber

Jinny Boy, YouTube Creator Edho Zell, YouTube Creator

Edho Zell on screen at Digital Matters in Singapore

A trio of YouTube creators aired their frustrations about working with brands in a Digital Matters session on the dos and don’ts of brand partnerships today, with clients interfering with the creative process and the commoditisation of their audiences the main grievances.

Talking on a panel moderated by the head of international content at Disney’s Maker Studios, Luke Hyams, Malaysian video maker Jin Lim, whose channel JinnyBoyTV has 580,000 subscribers, recounted a recent case when a client had requested that a part of a video skit on the different types of people who play popular online battle game Dota 2 was removed for fear it would be seen as racist.

The video featured caricaturised gamers such as ‘The Rage Quitter’, ‘The Girl Gamer’ and ‘The Mic Abuser’, but the client requested for a scene titled ‘The Pinoy’, featuring a gamer with a Filipino accent to be left out of the film, which Lim said showed a lack in understanding of his audience.

‘Types of Dota 2 Players’, which begins with an ad for Mountain Dew, launched without the ‘Pinoy’ scene, and Lim noted that one of the first comments on YouTube from fans wondered why there was no ‘Pinoy’ character in the film.

“When we create content, we know our audience,” he said, adding that viewers would not have found the video to be racially offensive.

He suggested that the video, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times, would have performed better without interference. “We didn’t want to say look we told you so,” he said.

The client had wanted to “protect its brand image,” noted, Lim who studied marketing and advertising, then worked in the promotions department of Malaysian radio station Hitz.fm before launching JinnyBoyTV.

Lim also brought up a frustration that never fails to surface at conferences about brands moving into content, the request for a viral video. “If we knew how to make a viral video, we wouldn’t have to make brand films,” he said, implying that bigger audiences would bring in sufficient advertising revenue.

Edho Zell's YouTube channel

Edho Zell’s YouTube channel

Also on the panel was Edho Zell, an Indonesian YouTuber who has 414,000 subscribers to his channel. He noted that agencies often approach him asking if he can deliver one million views, and then say that any extra audience needed can be bought. “It’s like lying to yourself, it’s like plastic surgery.”

“A [promoted] film might get two million views, but 10 likes and two comments. It might as well be a 30 second ad skipped within the first few seconds,” he said.

“We’re real, we’re genuine, people choose to watch,” he added.

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