Nextdoor Canada enlists social creator ‘Brittlestar’ to promote its app

Who: Nextdoor Canada and Canadian content creator/influencer Stewart Reynolds.

What: “We’re all in this together,” an online video promoting the Nextdoor app featuring the Stratford, Ont.-based Reynolds, who goes by the online name Brittlestar and describes himself as “The internet’s favourite dad.”

What’s Nextdoor again? The Nextdoor mission is to bring people together, but it prides itself on being for “real people at real addresses”—using address verification to ensure users are only connecting with people who live nearby. Nextdoor actually refers to itself as a private network.

When & Where: The video went live across Reynolds’ various social channels, where he has a combined reach of nearly 300,000, in mid-March.

Why: Neighbourhoods have become “fashionable” during the COVID crisis, with a recent United Nations report noting that acts of kindness—”whether singing a song together outside windows, getting groceries for the elderly or calling a friend to alleviate anxiety and fear”—have been spreading as people around the world are forced to hunker down at home.

A New York Times report, meanwhile, notes that Nextdoor—which bills itself as the “neighbourhood hub”has become a much in-demand service as New York is being hit hard by the COVID crisis, with traffic on increasing 73% between Jan. 21 and March 24.

Nextdoor came to Canada in September, led by country manager Christopher Doyle, the former partnership director with Twitter Canada. Canada is currently the company’s fastest growing international market, logging a 189% increase in daily active users since January.

The company recently introduced a feature called the Help Map, where users can identify themselves as willing to help out neighbours by picking up groceries or medications and run errands for those who are homebound; supporting local businesses by ordering takeout or purchasing gift certificates.

How: The one-and-a-half minute video stars Reynolds in a dual role as himself and “Tom,” his elderly neighbour across the street. They are communicating about how they’re getting along during the current stay-at-home period via written signs, until Tom, frustrated by the back-and-forth, tells Reynolds to go to his phone and download the Nextdoor app.

While Reynolds’ creative approach varies, he says that in most cases he receives an outline about what a brand wants to say/convey, and develops a script that is sent for final approval. In this case, it took Reynolds about three days to take the video from conception to finished product (including hair and makeup).

“The idea was this notion that I’m trying to be cool and help out my old neighbour, but he’s already way ahead of me,” says Reynolds. “The big thing with doing any kind of branded content work currently is that you have to not seem glib or cavalier. You can be funny and comedic, but you can’t do it at the expense of people’s suffering.”

Who’s Brittlestar exactly? A former jingle writer, Reynolds launched Brittlestar in 2013. Over the past seven years he has created videos for brands including KFC (which amassed more than 60 million views), WestJet, Clorox, CBC Television and the U.S. insurance brand Progressive. “I describe my content as like watching National Lampoon’s Vacation, but on television,” he says. “There are no boobs or swearing.”

Did he ever envision this is where his professional career would take him?  “Good God, no. Not at all. One of the goals I had when I was younger was to create something that would have an impact and sell it globally. I tried to do that all the way through the late 1980s and early ’90s, but the world wasn’t ready. When this came along I said ‘I can do this now. This is amazing.'”

And we quote: “It was such a great fit [with Brittlestar] that we decided to partner on a video to help spread the word that Nextdoor, the online neighbourhood hub, is a safe, secure and ideal way to connect with those in your community during good times, and especially right now.” —Nextdoor Canada country manager Christopher Doyle.



Chris Powell