Could Viral Hit BatDad Be the First Regular Guy to Make Money from Vine?

    by Dan Lyons

    Date

    October 4, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    batdadHave you heard of BatDad? By day he’s Blake Wilson, a regular 29-year-old dude in Atlanta with a wife and four kids. But Wilson's life changed  when he bought a cheapo Batman mask and started making ridiculous Vine videos in which he becomes “BatDad,” barking at his family in a husky Batman voice.

    The whole thing has gone nuts-o viral, and for marketers there are a few lessons to be learned:

    1. Great content draws people to your “brand," even if you're starting from scratch, with almost zero budget. In fact, the low-budget aspect can be a plus. In other words: inbound marketing works.

    2. You can’t predict what’s going to go viral. Wilson was making lots of other Vine videos before he got the Batman mask, but they totally flopped. But when he got the mask, and a new persona, suddenly lightning struck.

    3. Vine is not just a fluke or a fad. Sure, the videos are only six seconds long. But people are finding amazing things to do with those six-second chunks. It’s a viable platform, and marketers need to start paying attention to it, either by making their own Vines, or finding talent like Wilson to partner with.

    (Vine, for the uninformed, is a video app owned by Twitter. In February, my colleague Rachel Sprung published a great post, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Vine for Marketing.” If you’re a total newbie, that post is a great place to start. You should also check out “How 15 Real Businesses Are Getting Creative With Vine for Marketing,” by my colleague Hannah Fleishman.

    The app has quickly gone mainstream. In September, Dunkin’ Donuts created the first TV ad made with Vine. Social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk is launching a talent agency around Vine, sigining up creators.

    BatDad Strikes — And Then Strikes Again

    Wilson released his first BatDad compilation video on YouTube on Sept. 19. It has been viewed more than 7 million times.

    Wilson splices together a bunch of six-second clips into a single 3-minute video. My favorites are the ones where Jen, his often startled wife, is either annoyed or trying not to laugh.

    On Oct. 3, Wilson released his second compilation, “BatDad Strikes Again.” Here it is:

    Should Brands Send Out the Bat(Dad) Signal? 

    The message I took from the second video is that Wilson recognizes he's got a business opportunity here. This was not a one-shot deal. Wilson has started building his brand, creating a Twitter account where he goes by @BatDadVine and has already attracted more than 11,000 followers.

    Gawker has declared Wilson “the best dad on Vine.” Buzzfeed calls him “the superhero we need right now.” He was featured on the Today show, and Al Roker called him a genius.

    Now that Wilson has achieved fame, can riches be far behind? Some smart brand is going to sponsor him, I’d bet. The challenge will be to find a way to make money on the character without destroying its authenticity. That’s a tough tight-rope to walk, but I think it can be done.

    The best and most obvious connection would be with a brand that has something to do with families and parenting. Diapers? Minivans? The possibilities are endless.

    Meanwhile, marketers can at the very least take inspiration from the success of BatDad. And we can all sleep a little more soundly, knowing that he's out there ... somewhere ... making more Vines.

    Image credit: BatDadVine

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