YouTube Shorts campaign captures creative spirit of Gen Z

Who: YouTube, with Mint for strategy, creative and media planning, Fela for production (directed by Emma Higgins) with post-production by Outsider Editorial, Studio Feather and Grayson. Media by PHD and Essence.

What: A campaign officially launching YouTube Shorts in Canada.

When & Where: The campaign launches today (Nov. 29) and will run until Dec. 17 as digital on YouTube and other platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat), as well as digital out-of-home.

Why: YouTube is the OG of social video and, as part of Google, the biggest ad platform in the world. But there’s no question things have been flux in the last couple of years as many consumers—especially younger millennials and Gen Z—gravitate to platforms that emphasize shorter video, such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

YouTube launched Shorts late last year in India, giving its app users a new option to make “short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.” It gives users the ability to shoot and edit videos of 60 seconds or less, and they can add text and other video clips, as well as apply filters and sample audio and music. A beta version of Shorts was introduced in the U.S. in March, and came to Canada in July.

Short-form video is everywhere, and the trend sped up during the pandemic said Alyssa Whited, YouTube’s marketing lead in Canada. It only made sense for YouTube to introduce a new way for users to create more short-form content, and after soft launching in the summer, it needed a campaign to start driving awareness.

“When we went to Mint, we said…we haven’t properly introduced Canadians to the shorter side of YouTube,” said Whited. YouTube wanted a campaign that felt “quintessentially Canadian” by featuring the Canadian creator ecosystem. “We have an amazing ecosystem of creators in Canada,” said Whited. “And we felt like that this was an opportunity to really showcase that.”

How: The ads feature popular Canadian content creators, including young super-producer WondaGurl; Montreal-based singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin; famed gamer Janet Rose (xChocoBars); choreographer and “social media sensation” Bizzy Boom; and stylists Lexson Millington and Liam Wilkings (aka L.Bros).

The idea is that each of the creators is inspired by a video from one of their counterparts. The 30-second version shows them all in a chain of inspiration—one inspires another, who inspires another etc.—with the cut-downs focused on individuals. All of the videos are soundtracked by a version of the 1958 song “Short Shorts” by The Royal Teens remixed by WondaGurl. Music has been massively important in the explosion of short-form video (with dance challenges being the most obvious example) and YouTube said it launched Shorts with a huge catalogue for users to play with.

“It starts with seeing one creator observing another, and then riffing off that and passing it along,” said Kim Tarlo, Mint’s executive creative director. “They’re all catching each other’s videos, and it’s making them want to create their own.”

The videos show some of YouTube Shorts’ tools and functionality, but Mint focused on capturing the tone and energy of the creativity that characterizes so much video today. “It was about the spirit behind the collaboration culture that happens with short form videos, and re-mixing together and riffing off each other,” said Tarlo, pointing to WondaGurl’s remix of the iconic “Short Shorts” as a example of the kind of creativity that comes naturally to so many younger digital natives.

“The Gen Z spirit is just to put stuff out there, then [others] take it and run with it and make it their own and keep remixing  it.”

David Brown