YouTube Stars You May Not Know -- But Should

These Homegrown Talents Are Ripe for Notice by Marketers

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You've surely heard of breakout YouTube stars Bethany Mota (that's her on the covers of both Seventeen and Fast Company right now) and Michelle Phan (one of our 2014 Media Mavens). But who's next to break big? Or, rather, who has already broken big in the vlogosphere and is destined for wider fame? Here, the Ad Age staff picks five rising DIY YouTube stars (make that six, since one channel below features identical twins) who marketers should know about now.


BY THE NUMBERS: 3.7 million subscribers; 156 million video views to date.

WHO: Identical British twins Jack and Finn Harries. In July 2011, 18-year-old Jack Harries started JacksGap as a video diary to document his gap-year adventures; Finn soon joined in on the video-making, and within a year and a half they had more than 200,000 subscribers. They're based in London.

CORE AUDIENCE: Teen girls initially, but as the twins' interests became more worldly, their audience has broadened.

EDGE: Adorableness times two; expert videography, editing and pacing; an infectious joie de vivre.

FAME FACTOR: Animated gifs (derived from their YouTube videos) of the twins being cute are huge on Tumblr.


BRAND POTENTIAL: On Sept. 19, JacksGap announced an upcoming collaboration with Skype called "Following Heart," a three-part series of short documentaries about three individual women who are "empowered through technology to do what they're passionate about," to debut in October. Skype reached out to the twins after seeing their touching July "Collaboration Project: Love" video ("We asked our audience to send in video messages via Skype answering the question: 'What do you love?' We received over 2,500 submissions from 20 different countries in 15 different languages").

WATCH THESE VIDEOS TO UNDERSTAND: "The Bedroom Ball Pit" (in which the twins fill up their bedroom with 12,000 balls), "The Rickshaw Run" (documenting the twins and friends' 2013 travels across the width of India in three small rickshaws), "A New Project: JacksGap x Skype" (above).


BY THE NUMBERS: 3.9 million subscribers; 409 million views to date.

WHO: Indo-Canadian comedian Lilly Singh started her YouTube channel in October 2010. She's based in Markham, a city in the Toronto metropolitan area.

CORE AUDIENCE: Teen girls, young women.

EDGE: High-energy, blunt, briskly edited, low-fi monologues intercut with characters portrayed by Ms. Singh; observational comedy for the BuzzFeed generation.

FAME FACTOR: Has performed on the BBC Asian Network's "Big Comedy Night"; is friends with Kunal Nayyar ("Raj" from "The Big Bang Theory") and rapper M.I.A. ("She reached out to me on Twitter and we went out for ice cream," Ms. Singh told MTV).

MAINSTREAM MEDIA THAT SHOULD SIGN HER: Seventeen magazine declared that Ms. Singh's skits "could legit be on 'SNL'!"

BRAND POTENTIAL: Ms. Singh has her own line of T-shirts, hoodies, accessories and posters at her website, And she's well known in the South Asian youth community (her rise to fame has been widely covered by the media in South Asia).

WATCH THESE VIDEOS TO UNDERSTAND: "Types of Parents" (above), "If Boys Got Their Period," "Types of People at the Mall," "8 Situations in Which People Should SHUT UP!"


BY THE NUMBERS: 14 million subscribers; 1.6 billion views to date.

WHO: Boston University graduate Jenna Mourey (she has a degree in sports psychology and counseling) launched her channel on YouTube in February 2010. When a video she posted in July of that year titled "How to Trick People Into Thinking You're Good Looking" (e.g., makeup tip: "The goal is to make yourself look nothing like yourself") took off, she realized she was on to something. Ms. Mourey is based in Santa Monica.

CORE AUDIENCE: Young women.

EDGE: She is, by far, the most caustically funny of our YouTube stars (she's definitely not afraid to swear).

FAME FACTOR: Ms. Mourey hosts SiriusXM's "YouTube 15," an hour-long show "based on what's trending on YouTube."


BRAND POTENTIAL: Family-friendly mainstream brands will probably want to steer clear of allying with Ms. Mourey, but her undeniable success -- she's the only member of the billion-views club among our YouTube stars short list -- suggests that she's hitting a nerve with her loyal audience. Marketers that would consider working with, say, Chelsea Handler or Sarah Silverman should keep Ms. Mourey in mind.

WATCH THESE VIDEOS TO UNDERSTAND: "How To Throw a 4th of July BBQ With Iggy Azalea," in which Jenna plays Iggy (above), "Jenna's Drunk Art School: Balloon Art," "Drunk Makeup Tutorial," "What A Girl's Eyebrows Mean."


BY THE NUMBERS: 2.9 million subscribers; 205 million views to date.

WHO: Ingrid Nilsen launched missglamorazzi in October 2009 to serve up, as her channel description puts it, "beauty, fashion and healthy food how-to's with a sprinkle of weird. The good kind of weird. I pinky promise!" (Her Twitter bio elaborates on her persona: "Professional donut eater, internet girl, and power napper. Unprofessional parallel parker.") She's based in Los Angeles.

CORE AUDIENCE: Teen girls and young women.

EDGE: Proverbial thousand-watt smile; boundless enthusiasm; a knack for executing the video version of the type of service journalism that's a staple in every women's magazine.

FAME FACTOR: Lifetime announced that she'll serve as a judge in an upcoming reality-competition show called "Threads" along with designer Christian Siriano of "Project Runway" and two Seventeen magazine editors.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA THAT SHOULD SIGN HER: See above. (At some point Ms. Nilsen will inevitably have her own lifestyle show on TV; it's just a question of whether it'll be about food or fashion or beauty or ...)

BRAND POTENTIAL: Unlimited among lifestyle brands that appreciate quirk and want to reach millennials. When she loves something, she lets the world know.

WATCH THESE VIDEOS TO UNDERSTAND: "3 Days of Cute Hair... WITHOUT Washing!!" (above), "I Woke Up Late!! Quick Makeup, Hair, Outfit + Breakfast," "Quick & Healthy Breakfast + Lunch Ideas!"


BY THE NUMBERS: 5.5 million subscribers; 270 million views to date

WHO: An elder statesman by YouTube standards given that he launched his eponymous channel in September 2007, 25-year-old Tyler Oakley is a native of Jackson, Miss. His channel's mission, per its description, is to serve up "plenty sassiness and beauty and fabulousness!" As a measure of his stature in the vlogosphere, he was invited to D.C. in the spring to meet President Barack Obama and appear in a video titled "YouTube Stars Talk Health Care at the White House." And two weeks ago he posted a video (above) titled "Tyler Oakley Interviews Michelle Obama" (they talked about education, and then took turns asking each other random questions fished out of a wicker basket). Mr. Oakley recently moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

CORE AUDIENCE: Pop-culture fans and viewers with an interest in LGBT issues (he's a major fundraiser for The Trevor Project).

EDGE: Impossibly cheery; a bit of a goofball with an infectious laugh; a total pro who has worked the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards, the Kids' Choice Awards, etc.

FAME FACTOR: The President and First Lady of the United States know who this guy is, which is probably more than anyone else on our list can say.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA THAT SHOULD SIGN HIM: Bravo (he's the next Andy Cohen, minus the snark).

BRAND POTENTIAL: He sells his own line of merchandise (e.g., T-shirts emblazoned with "Professional Fangirl" and "I'mma Bad Bitch") at

WATCH THESE VIDEOS TO UNDERSTAND: "Tyler Oakley Interviews Michelle Obama" (above), "100 Things I Did in 2013," "Joining a Boyband."

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