PewDiePie’s Marketing Brilliance Is Showing

Rather than jump the gun on Tuesday with this entry for Business Tuesday, I decided to watch what was going on with Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie.  He announced on YouTube via a ten-minute rant recently that once his popular YouTube channel reaches 50 million subscribers, he will delete the channel.  Why?  Because YouTube is supposedly being “mean” to him. The Internet went wild over the announcement!  As of earlier this morning, PewDiePie was within scant subscribers of being at the 50 million subscriber goal.


Before the day is out, Felix Kjellberg will undoubtedly have his 50 million subscribers.  However, this doesn’t spell the end of PewDiePie’s presence on the Internet, and it certainly doesn’t spell the end of PewDiePie’s presence on YouTube.  In fact, for those who listened to his video rant where he announced he would be killing his channel, he gave himself a backdoor back in to the platform and laid the groundwork for even greater virtual reality success via his videos.

The Groundwork

Everyone who follows Felix on YouTube knows that his PewDiePie channel isn’t the only channel he has on YouTube.  In fact, he’s had the second YouTube channel with far fewer subscribers for a while now.  Threatening to delete his popular PewDiePie channel isn’t as dramatic as his ten-minute rant made it sound.  Deleting one channel in order to grow his other channel is marketing brilliance.


Building A Brand Based On Loyalty

When his PewDiePie channel is deleted (should he decide to go through with what he said he would do), Felix will either fire up another PewDiePie channel on YouTube to which his subscribers will swarm or he anticipates a large migration of loyal followers to subscribe to his lesser known YouTube account he’s had since December 4, 2010.  Regardless of how this plays out, Felix won’t be without his fan base as he will build the new YouTube platform to the multitudes he has previously enjoyed with a difference.  These subscribers will be diehard PewDiePie fans with the less-enthusiastic followers from his early years weeded out.

Cashing In Big Time

Something most people may not realize is that in begging for subscribers to take his channel to 50 million so he can delete his channel means money in his pocket.  YouTube revenues for people like PewDiePie are based on views and subscriptions which means he’s making a pile of money as people (both those familiar with his brand and those who don’t know who he is) tune into YouTube to see what’s going on with this Internet celebrity, and he’s making a pile of money from people (haters and new-found fans) who subscribe to the PewDiePie channel.

If he closes down the PewDiePie channel (because he may opt to hide the channel rather than actually delete it), he’ll make even more money as millions flock to his alternate channel or to his new channel on YouTube.

Sarcasm Or Inflammatory Comments

If you want mainstream media to cover a fringe celebrity’s news, do something that’s going to grab their attention.  In this case, PewDiePie stated the following in his video rant:

  1. YouTube wants to destroy his channel;
  2. PewDiePie’s channel has too much click bait;
  3. PewDiePie’s channel doesn’t have enough family friendly content;
  4. PewiDiePie complains too much to YouTube;
  5. YouTube wants Lilly Singh’s channel to be more popular than PewDiePie’s channel; and
  6. PewDiePie is white and Lilly Singh isn’t.

Now all of those claims are humorous as long as they aren’t taken seriously.  Whether it’s sarcasm or inflammatory comments made to stir the pot, it worked insofar as mainstream media is covering his story.  There’s something for nearly everyone (including conspiracy theorists) to grab hold of and run with on social media.  Nothing gets more attention from the media and on social media than outrageous claims and commentary.

Final Note

From a marketing standpoint, Felix Kjellberg has shown repeatedly that he understands what his audience expects from him, and he never fails to deliver.  This is how he’s climbed to the top of the YouTuber ladder.  His latest grandstanding stunt with his outlandish ire at YouTube is more of that marketing brilliance that he’s demonstrated over the years.    If you’re interested in growing an enormous presence on YouTube, study PewDiePie’s approach to courting and romancing potential viewers and keeping viewers he’s already won over.  His approach may not work for your business, but there’s something to learn from his approach even if you disagree with his way of doing business.

Elyse Bruce

UPDATE (SATURDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2016):  When Felix Kjellberg’s PewDiePie YouTube channel reached 50 million subscribers, he tweeted to his followers that he would delete his channel on December 9, 2016 at 5:00 GST.    The funny thing is that on Saturday, December 10, 2016 his channel was still live on YouTube.

This seems to support my suspicion that Felix’s announcement was meant to push his channel to the 50 million plus subscriber mark.  Brilliant marketing, Felix, and well played!







Canadian Style Shorts

Just to be clear, the shorts I’m talking about aren’t fashion but rather art related.  They aren’t name brand clothing shorts but rather animated shorts, and those I’ve been most fond of since childhood are those from the National Film Board of Canada.  Maybe it’s because Canadian humor is quirky at best with unexpected commentary and subtle nods to real life.  Maybe it’s because inherently insightful in a comic, tongue-in-cheek way that’s not seen in other cultures.  Or maybe it’s just because Canadian humor is outright hilarious.

Rather than write a lot about the selections I’ve chosen for today, I’ll let these animated shorts speak for themselves.  The first one is “Cactus Swing” with music by the Great Western Orchestra from Alberta (Canada).  It was released in 1995 to the amusement of a great many people, but most especially to the delight of musicians who knew the members of the band as well as fans of the band.

On to a very well-known song, this animated short gives a decidedly Canadian touch to “The Cat Came Back.”  I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching this one as well … and particularly so if you’ve ever been owned by a cat.

If you remember the music of the 50s and 60s, and you remember K-Tel Records, then this next animated short is definitely going to resonate with you.  If you know any young adults who are currently unemployed, this should take the edge off the situation.  *wink*

Any creative  person knows what it’s like to wrestle with procrastination from time to time.  What’s particularly delightful about this animated short is that it’s the unexpected reality of the situation that’s dead bang on accurate.  Yes, we’ve all been there and some time in the future, we’ll all be there again.  Until then, we can chuckle at what procrastination looks like to outsiders.

And finally, the famous short “The Sweater” (a true Canadian treat) based on a short story by Canadian author Roch Carrier (born 13 May 1937).   The story was originally published as “Une abominable feuille d’érable sur la glace” and was so well received, that a year after it was first published, it was translated and published in English.

The short story was one that Roch Carrier is surprised still resonates with Canadians to this day (you can read this article from 2014 where he talks about how the story came to be written).   Truth be told, whether you’ve ever played hockey or just watched others play hockey, the story is one that most people love to pieces.

What a great way to start off your Sunday … especially because today also happens to be National Ice Cream Day.  So grab a scoop of your favorite flavor and treat yourself to a great day all the way around.

Elyse Bruce


Christmas In The UK

I think the Christmas commercials produced by John Lewis in the UK are among the most heartwarming, touching television advertisements to grace mainstream broadcast media as well as alternative media such as social media and blogs.  I realize that there’s a segment of society that loves to parody the commercials every year, and I know that there’s a segment of society that hates these commercials because they meet the goal they set out to meet each year — to tug at viewers’ heartstrings and, of course, purses and wallets.

Regardless of whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that they stick in your mind because, in the end, they’re terribly catchy and memorable.  While it’s true they had Christmas commercials before they made the switch to the heartstring tug commercials, the Christmas commercials produced since 2008 have improved each year, rising above the bar set the previous year.

Now that’s high praise, and one that ought to be taken lightly until the commercials can be screened by readers and visitors to this blog.  And so, to facilitate the process, here are the videos!

Last year’s commercial  was one that spanned more than just one spot.  It began with Monty the Penguin but it didn’t end there.  Rather than share the Monty and Mabel Penguin commercials, I’m sharing the Christmas commercial that started it all last year, and leave it to you to find the others in this story arc.

And just when I thought these Christmas commercials couldn’t possibly get any more heartwarming and touching, John Lewis went all out and outdid themselves with this.

So there you have it, dear readers and visitors — a chronology of the emotion laden Christmas commercials from John Lewis.  Yes, they’re meant to drive customers into their brick-and-mortar stores as well as their online virtual stores, but they do so much more than just that.  They remind their intended audience that Christmas is really about family and caring and compassion.

In the end, isn’t that what resonates with most people when you talk to them about the holidays?

Elyse Bruce

An Open Letter To Copyright Infringers, Piracy Advocates, and Thieves

Dear Copyright Infringers, Piracy Advocates, and Thieves,

You see value in what I create from my books to my music and my art.  I know you do because you feel compelled to illegally download and to illegally offer my copyrighted intellectual property to your friends, family, and subscribers via numerous websites and social media.

Your reasons for doing this are varied, and none of the reasons you give are valid.

Some claim that they are financially disadvantaged, and that gives them the right to foist their financial disadvantage on me and my family.  I have news for you. Being financially disadvantaged does not give you the right to steal my paycheck.  At no point have I agreed to subsidize your financial situation with my hard work and my royalties.  If you don’t earn enough money to buy what you want, don’t default to stealing and then justifying your actions with excuses.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a student in debt or a single parent on welfare or someone who’s just too cheap to do the right thing.

Some claim that they’re doing me a great service because once they read my book, or listen to my music, or enjoy my art, they’ll tell their friends who have money.  In other words, I should thank them for all the free exposure they’re giving me.  Listen, lots of people die of exposure, and you aren’t doing me any great service since you and I both know that your friends are more likely than not to be just like you.  Yes, they’ll more likely than not be engaged in the same illegal activities as you when it comes to other people’s intellectual property.  So don’t try to sell me that song-and-dance routine where you promise to be my Number One fan because even Stephen King knows how that ends.

Some claim that it’s just one book or one CD or one image, so it’s not really hurting me, the copyright owner, all that much.   Except that it’s not just one book or one CD or one image that’s being illegally downloaded or illegally offered.  There’s no end of illegal downloads and no end of illegal offerings out there.  When you make yourself part of the chain, it’s never just one book or one CD or one image, and you know that.

Some claim that, once they read my book or listen to my CD or view my image, if they like it, they’ll for sure buy a legit copy.  Except that you and I both know that’s not going to happen either.  Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free, right?

Rest assured that copyright owners are fighting back.  We’re filing legitimate DMCA Takedown Notices with the appropriate people and agencies, and we expect those legitimate DMCA Takedown Notices to be acted upon responsibly.  Don’t think you can hide behind smoke-and-mirrors, because copyright owners are getting pretty savvy as to how we can go about filing legitimate DMCA Takedown Notices.

And for those of you who say that the tech guys are going to side with the copyright infringers, piracy advocates, and thieves, think again.  Those tech guys of whom you speak — the ones who write code and create software and are responsible for gaming development and all that jazz — aren’t too impressed with seeing their paycheck decimated by the Don’t Pay Brigade.  They and their companies are filing with those same people and agencies, and they’re expecting those same people and agencies to act responsibly on their complaints as well.

So dear copyright infringers, piracy advocates, and thieves, should you get notified by your Internet Service Provider that a complaint has been filed against you for copyright infringement, accept that you’ve been caught.  Pay the fine.

And stop stealing from copyright owners.

It’s as simple as all that.

Elyse Bruce

Statistics and Privilege

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012 the American Community Survey showed that, based on race, 77% of working artists were white, 8% of working artists were Hispanic, 8% of working artists were black, 4% of working artists were Asian, and 3% of working artists were another ethnicity.

The Wall Street Journal chalked most of that up to the fact that 11 of the 15 most expensive universities in the country are art schools, and therefore white privilege is supposedly to blame for the numbers expressed by the survey quoted.

The problem with making such a claim without looking at other facts is that it gives a skewed view of the statistics.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012, 63% of the population was white, 17% of the population was Hispanic, 13% of the population was black, 5% of the population was Asian, and 2% are another ethnicity.

General Population v Arts Population
In other words, while it’s true that most of the artists working the arts are white, it’s also not an outrageous fact.  The percentages aren’t as out of line as the Wall Street Journal implies with its claim that the greater percentage of whites working in the arts is due to white privilege and the luxury of higher education.

What does seem to emerge is the fact that one’s choices regarding employment is a much greater influence on where one works than ethnicity is.  And let’s keep in mind that statistics can be made to reflect whatever the person manipulating the statistics wants them to reflect.

When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published its report in October 2013, the lowest paid people were Hispanics who earned $568 per week on average.  This was followed by blacks who earned $621 per week on average, whites who earned $792 per week on average, and finally Asians who earned $920 per week on average.  Does this mean there’s actually Asian privilege going on, or is this a case that job choices are dictating the average weekly income?

Average Weekly Wages in the U.S.
The point of this is that statistics and percentages shouldn’t determine whether someone has a chance of making it as a working artist.  Passion, talent, skill, determination, and business savvy are what should be the determining factors.

And if you happen to be an ethnicity other than white, don’t buy into the argument that you are less likely to succeed in your endeavors.  The percentage of white people working in the arts isn’t much more than the overall total percentage of white people in the general population.  Don’t let numbers and armchair statisticians determine if you have what it takes to make it as a musician or an artist or an author based on manipulated numbers and your ethnicity.

Be the kind of person working in the arts who is the master of his or her own fate … who sails towards his or her version of success … who isn’t afraid to be true to who he or she truly is.  That’s the kind of person working in the arts who finds contentment with their career choice.

Elyse Bruce

The Sun Ain’t Singin’ The Blues

This week, I’d like to share a story about someone who dreamed of being a famous singer-songwriter, or, failing that, a famous author.  It’s based on a true story and while the person’s identity isn’t important, the story is one that many starry-eyed hopefuls have when they travel to music centers in search of industry success.

This particular person stated in a book she wrote (and published a decade ago) that in spite of having her songs recorded and released, she “did not reap fame and fortune.”  In her twenties, she hoped to break into the Nashville scene (for a decade beginning in 1973), supporting herself with day jobs to pay the bills.  She distantly rubbed shoulders with other singer-songwriters who were making names for themselves and watched as they reached the heights she had hoped to grab for herself.

Nearly forty years later, she still holds her tattered dreams up as a banner, reminding people on social media that she was once introduced to Dolly Parton back in the day.

When she wasn’t able to achieve her dream, she walked away from the music industry.  Two decades after leaving the music industry, she tried her hand at writing books, with her last book being published by a vanity press in 2004.  The website set up as a companion for her last book no longer exists anywhere online as a live website.

SIDE NOTE ABOUT THE VANITY PRESS MENTIONED:  It appears that back in 2004, a law firm in Gary (IN) allegedly began a class action lawsuit against the vanity press.  The law firm represented a number of authors and writers who had published books through this particular vanity press, and who claimed the vanity press had not performed their contractual duties as agreed to in their contracts.

It’s sad that the woman who dreamed of “fame and fortune” allowed two dreams to fail.  Perhaps she wasn’t as talented as her hometown friends had led her to believe she was.  Perhaps she didn’t fit in with Nashville’s culture at the time.  Perhaps she alienated more than she endeared herself to during her decade there.  And perhaps she just wasn’t able to understand that, like every business, success rarely falls into your lap with minimal attention and effort invested.

It’s rumored that Willie Nelson and Toby Keith were once told that they would  never make it in Nashville as songwriters or singer-songwriters. The ones who succeed in the arts industry are those who keep knocking on doors.  They keep presenting their art to the public.  They get out on the “entrepreneur street” and show people what they are capable of doing.

They don’t ever think for a minute that they know everything about their industry on the basis of having a few minor successes and five or ten years of professional experience behind them.  What’s more, they are very aware that there’s a limited number of people in each industry who will make it to the top of the ladder.

Those who stay in the arts industry are able to answer one question with a smile:  Does success hinge on your perception of success or on what you believe other people say success looks like?

If you live for other people’s definition of success, no matter how high up the ladder you may climb — or may have climbed during your stay in the arts industry of your choice — you won’t be happy and you won’t be satisfied.  You’ll be miserable and bitter, and that misery and bitterness will last long after you’ve walked away from your dream (or dreams).

There’s a reason for sharing this story.

Far too many aspiring success stories in the arts industry — whether it’s music, literature, dance, visual arts, or any other domain — fail to plan for the possibility that their dreams may not come true exactly as they have envisioned them in their naive understanding of their industry.  Not everyone will make it to the top of the pile, and many will fail to adapt with their situation and turn their backs on their dreams, bitter that ultimate success wasn’t theirs to hold.

Oddly enough, however, those who are miserable and bitter about their failures oftentimes seem to think of themselves in narcissistic terms in order to avoid facing the reality of their failure to achieve “fame and fortune.”  Those who are most affected by their failure seem to resent those who continue to be successful on their own terms, and will stoop at nothing in an attempt to discredit them.

One word of advice:  Avoid miserable, bitter people as they are toxic, and they know they are.

If the sun ain’t singin’ the blues for Jack and Jill, Jack and Diane, Harry and Sally, Melissa or anyone else, you shouldn’t be singing the blues for yourself.  Turn your attention to the success you are working towards achieving, and be grateful with each new accomplishment you reach.

Elyse Bruce

Mingus Mill Stream

Mingus Mill in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits along a beautiful stream.  The simplicity of the mill and the stream working in tandem takes visitors back to simpler times when nature was a vital part of every day life.

Photography / Videography:  Elyse Bruce
Music:  “Mingus Mill Stream” by Elyse Bruce
Copyright:  © Elyse Bruce, 2014

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