Considered by many as one of YouTube’s first “original pranksters,” Jack Vale started his career in comedy by marketing a toy that made fart noises called “The Pooter.” Little did he know that his pranks would lead to an audience of more than 1.1 million YouTube subscribers and a gig producing and starring alongside Dean Cain in the hit network television show “Bloopers!”
Jack’s comedic appeal and progress in online video (39 of his YouTube videos have surpassed 1 million views) led to a successful partnership with 360i client Canon to promote the launch of the VIXIA mini camcorder. We caught up with Jack to talk more about his filmmaking and experiences working with brands.
360i: What was it about YouTube as a channel that encouraged you to focus on prank videos?
JV: I’ve always been a huge fan of hidden camera shows. I grew up watching them as a kid. YouTube essentially allows you to have your very own TV show, so it was a no-brainer for me.
360i: When brands approach you for partnership opportunities, how do you evaluate whether or not it’s a good fit?
JV: My audience plays a big role in whether or not I accept a branding opportunity. I recently turned down an opportunity because I knew my audience would be like “Jack, what the heck are you doing?!” I’ve built up a specific viewership, and it’s important that I choose opportunities that resonate with my audience. The key is to know your fan base: if your audience loves “Star Wars,” don’t advertise for Captain Spock.
360i: As a prank artist, I’d imagine lots of what you produce is unscripted – does it make brands uneasy that they aren’t in the director’s seat themselves?
JV: I have been fortunate to work with brands that have specific messages they want to convey but also entrust me to figure out how to convey that message while keeping things comedic and true to my personal style. When there are creative differences along the way, it’s important to balance staying true to my own brand with the objectives of the brand that’s paying me.
360i: When it comes to promoting your YouTube videos, what do you find are the best ways to get more views, comments and thumbs ups from fans?
JV: Right now, the best way to grow on YouTube is to collaborate with other YouTubers. In terms of amassing more likes and comments, I’ve found that it helps to engage with my fans along the way. For example, I try to reply to as many comments as I can.
360i: Competition is fierce in YouTube Land. What types of opportunities are you seeking out to differentiate yourself as your own brand?
JV: I have branded myself as a family-friendly comedian since the very beginning. There aren’t many creators like myself on YouTube, and there aren’t many things families can watch together anymore – especially on YouTube. I’ve built my career out of creating clean comedy.
Before you go, check out Jack’s “Social Media Experiment” video, which racked up 3.5 million views and generated considerable news coverage because of the ease of access to peoples’ personal information posted on Facebook and Twitter.