This Viral YouTube Star Has Been Employed For Political Advertising
Ridiculously popular internet comedian "Friendlyjordies" has built a branded video company off the back of lo-fi videos shot in his apartment.
One of Australia's most popular internet comedians, Jordan Shanks, aka Friendlyjordies, uploaded his latest video on Tuesday, a five-minute bit on the importance of enrolling to vote.
But unlike his other viral videos, this one contains an authorisation label at the bottom of the screen in the final seconds of the clip.
Several people noticed the little label which is mandated on all political advertising.
And others questioned what it was all about.
"D. Oliver" is David Oliver, the boss of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who paid for the viral video as part of the ACTU's election campaigning.
BuzzFeed News spoke to someone familiar with the project who confirmed the ACTU paid for the political ad and was delighted with the result.
"The Friendlyjordies reach a target audience that is hard to get to: young men under 35, often with low levels of enrolment," said the ACTU source.
The ACTU, which has developed the online brand "Australian Unions", has invested in more than half a dozen full-time social media producers to produce content across Facebook and Twitter this year. The funding for the social media content comes from union members paying fees.
According to the source, Friendlyjordies came to them with the idea.
"They presented it to us," said the source, who refused to disclose how much the video cost. "It was compelling. It seems to be going really well."
But BuzzFeed News can reveal the comedian regularly approaches progressive organisations with a pitch email to make branded video for them.
In the email, Shanks tells a prospective client that he has produced video campaigns for everyone from environmental NGOs and superannuation funds.
"We have the best results in the country when it comes to not only creating awareness but generating engagement and action for causes using online platform," he said.
One of the clients, progressive lobby group GetUp!, has paid Shanks several times to make branded video for it campaigns.
"It's him and a mate in his Bondi apartment, shooting videos with a camera he bought from Target," said a former GetUp staffer.
"At the start I remember he was living on Newstart [the dole]."
Now Shanks has more than 200,000 followers across YouTube and Facebook and admittedly labels some of his videos as "INFOTAINMENT".
In February his video on the Sydney lockout laws was shared more than 15,000 times and clocked more than 1.5 million Facebook views.
With the election getting into full swing, all eyes are on political organisations and the methods they use to get their message out on the internet.
It'll also be interesting to see whether Shanks's fiercely loyal audience is turned away from videos that are funded by different political organisations.
When BuzzFeed News spoke to Shanks briefly on Wednesday, he laughed when asked about who else he was planning to work with.
"Well," he said, "I don't want to do anything with right-wing organisations."