YouTube for the very first time (May 31st-2013) posted its own video on the popular video sharing site that immediately went viral. The sensational video announced that the time had come for YouTube to call it quits, and as of midnight on April 1st, would not be accepting any more videos. The viral video by YouTube further explained that the whole purpose of the video sharing site had been to select a winner for the best home video out there. According to Tim Liston, the supposed director of competition, the time had come to review the videos and find the winner. The short-listed videos for the top prize were to be announced on April 1st, with the final winner of the best video announced in 2023.
If the public’s reaction was anything to go by, people took the video seriously. Some were however still sceptical and saw it as an early April fool’s joke. The video announced that the deadline for submitting entries to the video sharing site was at midnight, and that the site would be entirely taken down. The site would however go back online in 2023, but it would not be business as usual. There would be only one video, and that would be the winning video. The winner of the competition is to receive $500 stipend and an mp3 player.
More than two weeks on, YouTube is still up and running and more videos continue to be uploaded each day. By all indications, this was simply an April fool’s joke, and many were no doubt caught off guard. The question however still remains, was this simply a joke on YouTube’s part or is there more to be read here?
It would seem that this was not simply a joke; it was a clever marketing ploy that worked wonders. The fact that people only had a limited amount of time to post videos for a chance to win the best video, sent people scrambling to upload videos. The name YouTube was on everyone’s lips and more and more people visited the site either to upload their videos or watch videos before the site was ‘taken down’.
The inclusion of celebrities, famous commentators and YouTube celebrities lent the video some credibility, as well as a live stream supposedly announcing the short listed videos. According to the video, watching all uploaded YouTube videos would take 10 years, after which they would be able to announce the winner.
This is not the first time that YouTube has played such a prank on online video enthusiasts. In 2008, for example, each video clicked on opened a Rick Roll, and more recently in 2012, YouTube announced that it would now be possible to get a DVD of all the videos that have ever been uploaded onto YouTube.
This was an amusing stunt, but a little more can be drawn from the latest prank from YouTube. All indications points to a clever marketing ploy, well disguised in an April Fools trick. Anyway you look at it; it has served the company very well.