YouTube FanFest comes North

Many people mistakenly think that YouTube is a black hole of cat videos and quirky memes. But in reality, YouTube has stars. Big stars. And many of them are Canadian. These performers (called "creators") have millions of subscribers from all over the world.

To drive awareness of YouTube creators in the critical North American market, Google Canada hosted the first North American YouTube FanFest in Toronto.

The PR and communications goal of FanFest was to "flip the script" and educate both media and Canadians about the incredibly diverse group of creators on YouTube.

The target audiences were broad and all-encompassing — fans and non-fans of every age. At the same time, more traditional reporters were also an important target. Most journalists were unaware of the rise in popularity of YouTube creators.

Traditional public relations was the main driver of awareness for YouTube FanFest. On March 31, the agency announced that FanFest was coming to Canada. The story landed on the front page of the Toronto Star.

Two weeks later, there was a media tour with select creators, building a press drumbeat to FanFest that emphasized the upcoming festival and YouTube's value to brands.

Next, YouTube superstar Bethany Mota appeared in all three of Canada's leading fashion magazines.

The day before FanFest, 41 journalists were hosted at Canada's first ever YouTube press junket. Google Canada's managing director Sam Sebastian spoke and 14 YouTube creators were interviewed.

On the day of FanFest, 12 media were embedded on the red carpet and another 57 journalists and their kids joined as guests. Media Profile was on the ground wrangling talent, managing media and dealing with the thousands of fans clamouring to see their favourite YouTube stars.

More than 15,000 fans came out for the North American debut of FanFest. This was triple the attendance for previous events in Asia, India and Australia. FanFest was so big, it spilled over onto Yonge Street, closing it to traffic.