YouTube Star Disappears: Elaborate Hoax
Universal Pictures’s horror movie “Ouija,” which premieres on Friday, isn’t just the first brand to run ads on SnapChat. The movie studio has also spent the past few weeks making popular YouTube creators disappear.
Kian Lawley, who boasts of 2.1 million YouTube subscribers, fell off the digtial map earlier this month, as he stopped posting videos and shut down social media activity. That was following a video posted to his YouTube channel–ostensibly by his YouTube buddy Ricky–which appeared to show Mr. Lawley being dragged away by an unseen force after using a Ouija board.
It was all part of an elaborate stunt orchestrated by Universal and the YouTube multichannel network Fullscreen, which represents Mr. Lawley. It’s the latest example of traditional marketers tapping influential Web talent to produce content for them. Though in this case, Mr. Lawley was paid–for a brief period of time–to do nothing.
Essentially, Mr. Lawley “went missing,” disappearing from Twitter, SnapChat and other platforms where he typically maintains a devoted following of fans–on Universal’s dime.
Meanwhile, Fullscreen encouraged fans to post updates on his whereabouts via the hashtag #ouijawhereskian. According to Fullscreen, the effort has generated over 17.3 million social media impressions an over 5 million video views.
We’re going to find Kian. Gettin out the Ouija board again tonight…new video tmrw. Wish me luck.. #OuijaWhereIsKian
Eventually, Mr. Lawley, along with fellow YouTube creators Jc Caylen and Ricky Dillon (part of the YouTube group O2L), turned up at a haunted house in Chicago last weekend (and posted the video “We Found Kian“). The final video is set to debut today when “Ouija” debut in theaters.
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