Last month, after filming her husband and grandson playing a game of Pie Face, Sharon Boswell was told by Facebook users that she had ‘gone viral.’
Instead of filing for defamation, she celebrated as she watched her video of Rocket Games’ messy party title reach 37,463,466 online views.
The game soon sold out at retailers worldwide, and just like that, YouTube had helped to create another overnight sensation.
But the cream-laden party game isn’t the first children’s product to rocket to fame via platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Toys have long been among some of the most popular topics to pique the interest of the online viewing public.
Of course, when – according to the latest results from kids’ marketing firm, SuperAwesome – 90 per cent of children use YouTube to access online video content, it hardly seems surprising.
Last year saw a shift in gear for one of YouTube’s more obscure sensations as the US channel FunToyzCollector celebrated a whopping 477.5 million views (OpenSlate, March 2014) for a growing phenomenon known as ‘toy unboxing’.
At its most basic, the FunToyzCollector channel is footage of a pair of hands opening blind bagged or packaged toys, while a woman’s voice talks excitedly about the contents. It seems simple, and yet the channel pulls in millions of young viewers each month.
“The rise of unboxing has created a massive following for certain YouTube channels, some of the views are staggering,” explains Jerry Healy, marketing director at Character Options.
With these unboxing videos pulling in millions of transfixed kids, marketers are recognising a blossoming synergy between YouTube and its toy-related content.
As part of the team to bring Character Options’ new launch, Yummy Nummies to YouTube, Healy believes that the platform “represents a good opportunity to present product to the consumer in a longer and more informative way.”
And when Dylan Collins, CEO of SuperAwesome suggests that “TV viewing among kids is in decline of around 20 per cent year- on-year,” many recognise that a digital offering is racing to fill that gap.
Elsewhere, the rise of YouTube celebrities has opened new avenues to toy firms entirely, and Jazwares is now preparing to launch a collection of action figures inspired by some of the most watched YouTube personalities.
Called Tube Heroes, the line-up will launch with five celebrities, including CaptainSparklez (A.K.A. Jordan Maron), the 23 year old behind a channel with over one billion views.
But how can toy firms tap into a share of these viewing figures?
“To be successful on YouTube, it is important to think like a consumer,” explains Katy Fletcher, brand manager of outdoor at Re:Creation. “Consumers do not make a beeline for YouTube to be advertised to, so tapping into a sense of humour or something that affects real people is most effective.”
Humour was key to helping Razor’s Crazy Cart Ken Box videos clock up over four million views on YouTube.
Meanwhile, Fletcher suggests that is the consumer’s demand for 24/7 access to information that now makes unboxing the ultimate marketing tool.
“Studies into the subject find that 70 per cent of consumers check online reviews before purchase,” she continues. “An unboxing is the ultimate review, not only seeing the product, but identifying with the personality behind it.”
However, making use of the platform does not come without warning, one that SuperAwesome’s Collins is quick to note.
“A lot of brands don’t realise that YouTube is an over 13s platform and linking campaigns for the under 13s market is not permitted,” he says.
“The last thing a brand wants to do is be seen beside an ad for something inappropriate, and that’s the risk with YouTube.
“One of the reasons YouTube Kids was launched was to provide a specific?kids platform for safe video content. So by far the most effective approach is actually creating pre-roll video creative which taps into this unboxing trend, and using the reach of that across multiple platforms to get kids engaged.
“After all, although it’s been predicted for years, the great rebalancing from TV to digital in the kids’ market is happening now.”