YouTube Rebel Helps Launch Branded Content on Reddit

Casey Neistat and Others Featured in Campaign for Google Cloud Platform

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Casey Neistat, prolific YouTube videographer-turned founder of social video app Beme, built a half-pipe in his New York loft office so he can skate while he works. Rana el Kaliouby, chief strategy and science officer and co-founder of Affectiva, developed technology that tracks facial expressions through a mobile app to gauge mood. They're both people Reddit's Entrepreneur community wanted to learn more about. Reddit's in-house team, Google Cloud Platform, Google digital agency of record Essence and New York consultancy Acres collaborated to make it happen.

The rebellious Mr. Neistat never really appreciated authority's rules, something he makes clear in a six-minute video, the first in the "Formative" series highlighting "formative moments" of people chosen by the Entrepreneur Subreddit community. "My frustration was every time I pushed back against that I'd be pushed down by the authority figures 'cause I would be wrong, and I fucking hated that."

The video series, which premiered November 24, is aimed at a key audience for Google Cloud Platform: entrepreneurs. But, in addition to spotlighting not-so-buttoned up startup founders like Mr. Neistat, the video effort is anything but a heavy-handed sales pitch for Google Cloud Platform, the cloud data storage and management system that competes with Amazon Web Services. Except for an intro sequence that features the Google Cloud Platform logo, there is no mention in the videos of the brand, its related products, or even any indication as to whether its subjects use Google's data services.

"We're moving to a deeply connected world where everything is connected and everything is in the cloud," says Robert Herjavec, a cyber security expert and TV personality known for his work on ABC's "Shark Tank." In the latest video in the series, released Dec. 8, Mr. Herjavec explains how his upbringing as an impoverished immigrant fleeing communist persecution influenced his mission to be successful in business.

"We wanted to focus on the interpersonal dialogue and emotions that drive success," said Eddie Revis, creative media and strategy lead at Essence. The concept isn't too far a stretch from Reddit's popular AMA interviews, short for Ask Me Anything, which have featured sitcom actors, CEOs and President Barack Obama. The Formative series, available at, will feature eight videos in all, posted each Tuesday.

The campaign had its origins through Reddit's work with Acres, which devised the concept about a year ago to help Reddit enter the branded content space, according to Matt McLaughlin, partner at Acres. When Google and Essence put out an RFP for the project, it seemed like the perfect fit to bring the idea to fruition for a brand.

While Google's goals were central to the development of the videos, it was the Reddit audience itself that was integral, said. Mr. Revis. On Oct. 20, Reddit solicited ideas from its audience:

"Redditors will have a direct impact on how the series is produced; if you had ten minutes with any audacious creators and builders in the technology space, who would it be and what would you ask them?"

Names including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were among many suggested. The project's partners won't reveal who the upcoming interviewees will be.

"The Redditors piece is actually the core part of why Formative exists and why we created the series," said Mr. Revis.

Along with comments from readers, Reddit has provided data on site traffic and audience interests to Google for the project, said Ashley Dawkins, director of outreach at Reddit. Mr. Revis declined to go into detail regarding metrics Google will use to measure the campaign.

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