In addition to its more than three billion global monthly video views, 200 million unique monthly visitors to its web destination, and ingenious social media and content distribution strategies, BuzzFeed has something else to brag about. Its homegrown video stars.
The site that’s home to innumerable listicles, millennial-inclined quizzes, and actual hard news (peppered with its fair share of investigative journalism) has produced fully-fledged social media and online video celebrities by way of its careful consideration of emotionally-engaging content. BuzzFeed Motion Pictures President, Ze Frank empowers a crafty team of multi-hyphenates (all of whom write, shoot, and edit their own videos) to create content made for niches, but that’s appealing to the masses. A few individuals and entities have emerged, attracting their own following beyond their close relationship with the BuzzFeed brand, but none are perhaps more popular than The Try Guys.
Eugene Lee Yang, Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, and Zach Kornfeld are the quartet that is The Try Guys. The fast friends put themselves in curious and compromising situations and record the endeavor and the results to the delight of audiences, social critics, and brands. They were also among the stars on stage at BuzzFeed’s recent NewFronts presentation. It was the first advertising-oriented event of its scale that any of the guys had attended, so, we asked them if they could tell us a little bit about their experience. Yang, Fulmer, Habersberger, and Kornfeld then sat at an airport with their laptops, all entered into a Google Doc together, didn’t speak to one another, typed, and obliged.
Keith Habersberger: Welcome to “The Try Guys Try Writing An Article About Their First Time At Newfronts Together.”
Eugene Lee Yang: Very clean title, Keith. A+ journalism.
Ned Fulmer: We’re currently sitting in JFK airport, sharing a massive google doc and all chiming in simultaneously. It may get confusing.
KH: It’ll be fine.
Zach Kornfeld: It’ll be fine. Oh. We should probably start by talking about Miami, right?
NF: Leading up to NewFronts, we shot for a week in Miami, including three sponsored videos that culminated in us swimming in the ocean with sharks. We didn’t sleep before our flight to New York.
ELY: To clarify, the lack of sleep is attributed to the fact that, as multi-hyphenate producers at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, we not only star in but write, direct, shoot, and edit our work.
ZK: In between shooting five videos in Florida, we were staying up late to edit new footage into our NewFronts sizzle reel, prep for our upcoming client meetings in NY, and work on our actual NewFronts presentation.
ELY: NewFronts was the perfect opportunity for us to continue to build up our business and sales experience.
NF: Since our flight was delayed, we had to take a cab straight from the airport to the NewFronts stage. Luckily, we strolled in right on time… to a room full of our BuzzFeed execs.
KH: There was a huge BuzzFeed setup on the stage, dozens of chefs prepping to cook Tasty food the next day… and then Greg Coleman, President of BuzzFeed, cheekily reminded us “not to fu*k this up.”
NF: He was joking… we think.
ZK: Let’s jump to the morning of the presentation. We were all backstage, shrouded in a weird pink light. Keith mistakes a bowl of salad for a bowl of shredded beef.
KH: Looked like beef.
NF: We’ve performed for thousands of people before, but presenting to marketers, ad agency execs, and reporters was a different ball game. Nerves set in.
ELY: We ultimately decided the best thing we could do was be ourselves.
KH: Our entrance song was Celine Dion.
ELY: Everyone thought I was joking when I suggested “My Heart Will Go On,” but I legitimately know every word to every Celine Dion song.
ZK: It gets the people going.
NF: Many of the execs seemed confused at first, but I think we ultimately did a decent job.
ELY: Did we?
KH: There were several light chuckles during our presentation.
ZK: Once we showed our reel though… AWWW DAMN GIRL.
NF: What Zach is trying to say is that our reel showcaseed our most viral work, organized by vertical, and was a compelling value proposition for brands to collaborate with The Try Guys.
ZK: Half a billion views! Synergy! CPMs!
KH: Getting back on track…
ELY: Our favorite tweet about our presentation was a review citing vomiting and proctology as our primary appeal to the “millennial” audience.
— Michelle Castillo (@MishCastillo) May 2, 2016
ELY: Regardless, it’s a fair observation of our brand: we’re very open about culture, identity, and yes, even the occasional failings of our own bodies, and I think that’s what’s always been our most attractive selling point. We’re not afraid to show people that we’re vulnerable and relatable, and above all, prepared to laugh at ourselves in order to get a more important point across or provide a more authentic form of entertainment.
KH: That reel, coupled with the sizzle we made for our new project “The Try Kids” got us a lot of attention.
NF: I think a lot of the audience may have seen a glimpse of their own kids in “The Try Kids.”
KH: Most kids are in a time of their life where they feel like they can do anything, so we figured, “why not have them try everything?” It’s a series that will inspire and entertain kids and parents alike.
ZK: We’ve already done 58 episodes of The Try Guys, so we’re in a really comfortable place making a new “Try” series with budding talent. Hopefully, “The Try Kids” is just the beginning.
NF: The rest of the week was spent in a blur of client meetings. It was great to be able to connect directly with advertisers, which included big brainstorms.
KH: It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. We have great insight into what really works, so we’re excited to collaborate with brands to create sponsored content that aligns with both parties and still fucking kills it on the web.
ZK: AWWW DAMN GIRL.
KH: Zach, stop. We’re trying to be professionals.
ZK: Ok, fine. When we talk about being multi-hyphenates at Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, we often leave out the business component. NewFronts was an opportunity for us to get facetime with clients and plant the seeds for how we can work together in the future.
KH: We’ve done a handful of sponsored videos at this point, and have come to the conclusion that the closer our communication with the brand, the better the product for both parties.
NF: We have a mastery of the tools and processes that BuzzFeed Motion Pictures offers, and we excel at refining ideas to the point where they can make the most impact.
ELY: In short, we’re excited by the opportunity to collaborate with brands in a more fresh, direct way as content creators who personally oversee projects from their conception to their release. We’re actively seeking to bridge the gap between the way traditional media and the online ecosystem operate and can’t wait to show the world the properties we’re developing, both as individual talents and collectively as The Try Guys.
ZK: Good job, everyone. We’ll edit out the dumb stuff, right?
NF: It’s already sent.