Digital media company SheKnows Media is turning to a husband-and-wife team known for creating viral videos in an effort to boost its branded content business.
SheKnows, which owns female-targeted sites like BlogHer and StyleCaster, inked the so-called Holderness Family to a contract that calls for the creation of several video throughout this year. The first one (above) is a Super Bowl-themed video for Clorox-owned Hidden Valley Ranch that went live on Wednesday.
Kim and Penn Holderness, who are both former TV news reporters, are known for creating viral videos starring their own family that are typically made in their Raleigh, N.C., home. They first gained the nation's attention in 2013 with a video called "XMas Jammies" that has been viewed more than 15 million times.
Recent efforts include a video parody on back-to-school, called "Baby Got Class," and Thanksgiving, called "All About That Baste."
The couple cemented its place in pop culture when they were spoofed on "Saturday Night Live," which poked fun at them during an episode late last year.
The couple has seized on its stardom by creating branded content for brands including Weight Watchers and Monopoly. The couple's two children, Lola and Penn Charles, often appear in their videos.
The SheKnows deal represents the first time the Holderness clan has stuck a deal with a publisher, as opposed to working directly with brands. "It's a great opportunity," said Ms. Holderness. "They have have such a huge audience; it's an audience I think I know because I am one of them," she added, referring to SheKnow's female orientation.
The SheKnows network ranked as the third-most visited media entity in ComScore's lifestyle category in December with 78.4 million unique views, trailing AOL Lifestyle and Meredith Digital, according to Comscore. The network's traffic was boosted by the acquisition late last year of BlogHer for an estimated $30 million to $40 million, as Ad Age reported in November, citing a person familiar with the deal.
SheKnows, which is owned by private equity firm Great Hill, has been doing "highly produced" branded content for about five years, including for marketers such as Procter & Gamble and L'oreal, said Samantha Skey, the company's chief revenue and marketing officer. But the Holderness deal represents the first time the company has handed over production to an outside group, rather than creating videos for brands in-house, she said. "This is the first time that the talent is really fundamental to the humor and the quality of the piece," she said.
Kim Holderness rejected several brands that SheKnows presented to her because as a rule she typically does not like to promote junk food.
So how did Hidden Valley Ranch make the cut? "All food rules are off if you can get my son to eat vegetables, and what we've discovered is that if you drench ranch dressing on any vegetables, he will eat it," Ms. Holderness said.
The video, like most Holderness productions, has a family-friendly tone that borders on being downright corny. But that is exactly what SheKnows wanted. "We are trying to be funny and informative," Ms. Skey said. But "we are not snarky." The Holderness family is "intentionally corny," she added. "It's not making fun of anyone, which we really like."
The premise of the Hidden Valley Ranch video is that parents can't enjoy Super Bowl parties because they have to take care of their kids. The video, called "It's Sunday Night," resembles Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night." Perhaps not coincidentally, Ms. Perry is scheduled to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show.
The SheKnows deal is a boost for the Holderness couple as they try to make video production a full-time business. Kim Holderness is a former local TV reporter and most recently worked for "Inside Edition" before leaving the career behind in 2008 to form Greenroom Communications, the video-production company that struck the SheKnows deal. Her husband, a former news anchor for WNCN in Raleigh, joined Greenroom about a year ago after quitting his TV job.
As for their approach, Mr. Holderness summed it up this way: "We look at what happens around our house and then we make it rhyme."