Fred the YouTube celeb gets a pretty sweet deal

ZipIt has given us the skinny on their love for Fred, the YouTube internet sensation. After polling various teen and pre-teen focus groups, the company was led to Lucas Cruikshank, the 14-year-old behind the videos, to promote its ZipIt Wireless text and instant messaging device. By that time, Fred was already raking in more than a million views on YouTube, so getting in touch with him was the first obstacle.

Cruikshank, who attends a small Nebraska middle school resembling a barn, started the videos as a fun project, but quickly found himself inundated with more eager fans than he could accommodate. He was getting so many e-mails that he just gave up on reading him, and when Valerie Moizel, creative director of WOO Agency, tried to reach him, it was an uphill battle. “I kept every day sending an email, trying to change the headline to something that would cut through the clutter,” she said.

When they finally touched bases, Cruikshank reacted to the offer like he had just won American Idol, Moizel said. The small town boy had never seen the ocean or been on an airplane, and now he was being asked to fly to Los Angeles and shoot TV commercials. “We compensated him very well for the work he’s done for us,” she said.

It started as a viral marketing campaign. Fred would discretely incorporate the ZipIt gadget into a few episodes, showing himself texting friends, and fans were none the wiser to the sponsorship. Just recently, they launched, which includes video greetings customized for most common names (for which Cruikshank recorded thousand of lines), and their TV ad campaign, shot in the style of the Fred videos. The teenage Internet star made sure the professionally produced commercials maintained the amateurish feel of his Web show by giving pointers to video editors. “These big deal editors looked at us like we were crazy,” Moizel said.

Since connecting with ZipIt, Fred’s number of hits has grown immensely, with some topping four million views. The company has also benefited from the deal, with traffic to FredOnZipIt doubling when each new video is posted. Cruikshank still maintains creative control over his content, though ZipIt gives him criteria for videos promoting their product (like showing texting features or mentioning price reductions) and must sign off on the clips before they’re posted. He even got a brand new camera out of the deal.

Fred proves you don’t have to be an all-star athlete or a supermodel to get a corporate sponsorship these days. All you need is a video camera and film editing software – because apparently a high-pitched voice is “in” this month. More and more companies are taking a financial interest in Internet video stars, like Waterfall Mobile’s ringtone deal with Chocolate Rain‘s Tay Zonday, and Microsoft and GoDaddy’s advertising on Web-only shows like Diggnation and Rocketboom. The trend could give YouTube celebs like the Numa Numa guy a loftier goal than a cameo in a Weezer music video.

Check out David Sarno’s post for the LA Times in which I contributed.


8 comments so far

  1. […] Firma Zipit hat als Erste reagiert und sich den jungen “Star” unter den Nagel gerissen. Hier gibt es mehr Hintergrundinfos zu dem Deal und das hier ist dabei […]

  2. Michael on

    Hey whats up?
    I am part of the zipit/Fred team I would like to talk to you I liked your writing style:)
    Please contact me at
    Thank you

    Have a great day:)

  3. Bookmarks about Diggnation on

    […] – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by raidthebank on 2008-08-07 Fred the YouTube celeb gets a pretty sweet deal – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by ehlanakovas on […]

  4. Sally on

    Can you leave a youtube video on here so that viewers will be able to watch it. Thank You.

  5. Bobby Lee on

    I love Fred. I want to marry him. He is like so adorable and I want to eat him like a lolipop. Yummy yummy in my tummy.

  6. sally joe on

    you areso gay but my friend wants to eat you up right now lol but you are so funny i want to eat you up

  7. […]  Bigthawt. (06/26/08). Fred The Youtube Celeb Gets a Pretty Sweet Deal. Bigthawt. Retrieved on 2/09/09 from […]

  8. […] Bigthawt. (06/26/08). Fred The Youtube Celeb Gets a Pretty Sweet Deal. Bigthawt. Retrieved on 2/09/09 from […]

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