On the Internet, being popular is less about budgets and special effects, and more about being authentic and making an impact with a relevant message. 

‘This is America’ and ‘Great Depression Cooking’

If there is one thing we have learned, watching the Internet and its accompanying social media platforms evolve, it’s that ANYONE can make a massive impact through video, whether you have a billion dollar budget – or practically no budget at all. Simply put, it comes down to being creative with the tools at hand and using honest emotion to connect with an audience.

Remember the “this is your brain on drugs” commercial? A single egg cooking in a frying pan became one of the most popular spots of the 1980s. No frills – just profound imagery.

So, in the past year, we here at Bottle Rocket Media have come to love and appreciate two completely different videos that prove the power of the medium and the theory that there is more than one way to send an important, authentic, message.

Childish Gambino—“This Is America”

Don’t worry. We’re not gonna try and break down all the important symbolism of this one. There are enough articles and blog posts out there that can tell you about the Frederick Douglas tie-in, why there is a hooded man on a white horse, and why Donald Glover didn’t try and go for a “perfect” body look (who really f*cking cares, anyway!?).

In this case, what we blown away by, besides the great creative, is the end result: the impact. Right now, the video has surpassed 450M views on YouTube, and will most likely hit 1B before too long. Yes, we like the song. But, the video came at a time when our country was clearly ready for an artistic visual accompaniment to our tense, geopolitical atmosphere.

It spurred debates and lengthy conversations on news shows, talk shows, and social media sites. There were parodies, and imitations galore, which used the breakthrough piece to attempt to raise awareness for outside issues.

While the breakthrough video’s director may have had a substantial budget to work with, he purposely (and brilliantly) created a minimalistic, industrial setting that hit on the real story behind the glitz and glamour of the commercial world. The emotion on Glover’s face is almost enough on its own to sell the message, killing the need for pyrotechnics, flash, or expensive on-location shoots.

Without any major special effects, it certainly wasn’t the most costly production of 2018 – but it may have been the most meaningful.

Clara Cannucciari—“Great Depression Cooking”

Have you not heard of the late, great Clara Cannucciari of “Clara’s Kitchen” and “Great Depression Cooking?” Truth be told, we hadn’t either. But, this year one of our astute, and apparently hungry, team members turned us all on to this elderly Italian woman, who had been on the Internet for about six years, cranking out recipes and yarns from her days as a young New Yorker during the Great Depression.

We can’t exactly explain why such a meek, soft-spoken nonagenarian would become one of the most watched senior citizens on Youtube – believe it or not, some of her videos have clocked over 4M and counting – but we can take an educated guess that it has something to do with her genuine vibe and unique role as one of the only Great Depression cooking specialists to still be vocal in modern times. Just take one glance at the media around us and you’ll notice we have become a culture OBSESSED with every kind of culinary dish on the planet, old and new—it was only a matter of time before our curiosity for 1920s pasta and peas would be sated!

Clara was clearly in the right place at the right time with her callbacks to the poorman’s breakfast, twice-baked potatoes, and her “we were happy” tales about smiling through tough times. Plus, with her grandson guiding the experience from behind the camera, we could not have gotten a more intimate look at this rare reality.

What’s more? The series was so impactful it led to the release of a cookbook that continues to be sold around the world, leaving a powerful history behind along with some good eats. We dare you to watch one of Clara’s videos and NOT fall immediately in love with her.

Do you have a tale to tell? Our advice: be authentic or beware…

Click to learn how video can help you speak your truth.