What is the Vlog Squad?
Part 2: The Power of Friendship, Integrated Brands, etc.
|Blake Robbins||May 4|| 7||3|
Content creators are some of the most underappreciated and misunderstood people in the entertainment industry. Over the past few years, I’ve become obsessed with the world of content creators, the future of media, etc. and I wanted to start sharing some of my thoughts. If you’re interested in more deep-dives and analysis around the future of media, gaming, and technology, feel free to subscribe below!
David Dobrik is the main director, cameraman, and editor for his vlogs; however, it’s important to note that he is rarely in front of the camera. Instead, David acts as the “laugh track” for viewers, while also directing bits.
He's like a puppet-master puppeteering everything I do
Oh, what's that David?
Yeah, I'll do that for you
As a reminder, David’s videos have been watched over 8bn times and he has approximately 24.5m subscribers between his two channels.
But…if David is rarely in front of the camera, how do his videos perform so well?
Well…there are several different components to his videos. In Part 1, we covered David’s unique vlogging style and format. However, David’s friends are the focal point of the vlogs. David’s friend group is comprised of 20+ individual creators and is commonly referred to as the Vlog Squad.
The Vlog Squad
The main “cast members” of David’s vlogs are his friends. Given that they are all genuine friends, the storylines and cast of the vlogs are constantly evolving and relatable.
Over the past five years, David and his friends have allowed viewers to have a front-row seat to love stories, breakups, controversy, and everything in between.
Each friend has a very unique personality and role within the group. This, naturally, makes it feel like they are a cast of a TV show. For example, one of David’s best friends is Jason Nash, a 45-year-old divorced father of two children. Jason is quite literally the “Dad” of the friend group. While another member of the friend group is Natalie, who is David’s assistant. Natalie and David are hometown friends and most viewers of the vlog joke that David has a crush on Natalie.
The vlogs give viewers an intimate glimpse into their lives. The best example of this was David’s relationship with, fellow content creator, Liza Koshy. David and Liza had a very public relationship. She was a regular in David’s vlogs. However, in June of 2018, David uploaded a video to his channel titled: “we broke up”
David is notorious for his click-bait titles, but this title was not clickbait. This breakup video was incredibly raw and the Internet exploded. It was trending on every social media site for days.
Patricia Hernandez from The Verge summarized the video perfectly:
It’s gone viral because of how obvious it is that the two deeply care for one another. They joke around, they crack up, they cry. They sing each other’s praises and talk about how they’re still best friends. They make jabs about future boyfriends and girlfriends. When Koshy says that she is going through something and that she needs to love herself before she can love someone else, she knows it’s cliché — so you believe her. It helps that she pokes fun at herself. “This is gonna sound so lame, but I really want to spread love but I have to have it first, you know?,” Koshy says, laughing. “It’s like saying you’re gonna spread mayonnaise when you only have mustard.”
This breakup was bigger than any sitcom romance…because it was real. To this day, David’s most viewed video on YouTube is his breakup video with 63.5m views.
As mentioned above, the Vlog Squad is constantly evolving. There isn’t a fixed number of ‘squad members.’ It’s truly just a group of friends making videos together. It’s worth noting that the original members of the Vlog Squad came from Vine as well, but the group has changed a lot over the past five years.
If David’s vlog is the main sitcom, then all of the content that the Vlog Squad members create is the behind the scenes footage. Almost all of the members have active YouTube and social channels. Each member creates different types of content. Scotty Sire and Toddy Smith, for example, are now pursuing a career in music.
The collective reach of the Vlog Squad is absolutely massive. If you just include the members that create content on YouTube, the Vlog Squad members (excluding David) have over 50m subscribers.
The most important thing to highlight around the Vlog Squad is that David’s relationship with his friends is completely informal. There is no secret revenue share amongst his friends or anything like that. Instead, they gain significant exposure through his vlogs and they are able to monetize that exposure in whatever way that they want.
Brands as Vlog Squad Members
David’s ability to create storylines and integrate brands is unmatched. The best example of this is through his relationship with the ticket platform: SeatGeek.
David has always been very careful about working with brands on his main channel. However, SeatGeek has become synonymous with David’s vlogs.
SeatGeek has funded a majority of the stunts and giveaways that David has done on his main channel, such as: purchasing over a dozen cars for his friends, paying off a friend’s student loans, and tickets to the World Series, Super Bowl, etc.
David spoke with Tubefilter last year about his relationship with SeatGeek:
It doesn’t feel like a brand integration… It feels like two people collaborating. It’s kinda like SeatGeek is the sugar daddy for my videos. And every time I make a SeatGeek video, it ends up becoming my favorite.
David has managed to successfully embed SeatGeek as a cast member within his vlogs. He has even called SeatGeek an honorary member of the Vlog Squad.
SeatGeek’s ad script has even become a meme and inside joke amongst his fans at this point:
Alright, what’s up guys so SeatGeek is an amazing app that helps you buy tickets in the easiest way possible. So please if you ever need to buy tickets to any event click the link in my description and used promo code “David” to get $20 off your first purchase
David has talked on his podcast before about how he hopes to do longer-term partnerships with a select number of brands with the goal of directly integrating them into the vlogs, but a lot of brands are nervous to commit. If there is anyone who can directly integrate a brand into their content, it would be David.
This might be shocking to most people, but YouTube ad monetization is NOT a primary revenue driver for David.
Before the change, Dobrik has said he was making “a little over $275,000” a month from the nearly 60 million monthly views he was getting at the time. According to Dobrik, his channel now receives 250 million monthly views, but he receives only $1,089 a month from YouTube directly.
David has gone on record several times stating that he won’t change his content just so he can monetize it. As a result, David relies heavily on brand deals and merchandise as his two primary revenue drivers.
Over the past few years, David and his friend group, the Vlog Squad, have completely taken over the Internet. By giving viewers unprecedented access into their lives, viewers have become incredibly invested in following their lives. We are all witnessing a Masterclass in how to create a modern-day sitcom.
I strongly believe that David and his friends have the opportunity to create one of the greatest sitcoms of all-time.
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