Ordinarily, watching a video in which two vloggers deliberately try to clog drains would just be written off as another mindless prank.
Liquid-Plumbr has turned it into commerce, working with the defiantly silly Vat 19 YouTube channel.
In the “Will It Clog?” challenge, Vat 19’s Jamie Salvatori and Eric Christensen gamely use the “powerful clog destroyer” to see if it can cut through a huge mound of melted chocolate. Or bacon and grease. Or a fast-food combination of hamburger meat, fried chicken and meat sticks. Or thick handfuls of soapy bathroom gunk. And so on.
Because Liquid-Plumr is the sponsor of this competition -- duly noted in the video -- the outcome is kind of a no-brainer. Watching it is kind of a stomach-churner, too.
On Vat19 and elsewhere, challenge videos have become a big deal and some marketers are harnessing their power.
But few can combine a high level of yech (a plus on a certain type of YouTube video) with a product like this one. The nearly five-minute video has racked up 1.3 million views in five days. (Some of these videos start out and stay popular. The Vat19 “Real Food versus Gummy Food” challenge has gotten 35 million views over the last two years.)
“It’s not easy to garner attention in this category, which is why we tapped into the power of credible, popular influencers,” says David Kellis, director of brand engagement for Liquid-Plumr parent The Clorox Company.
Clorox has found other novel ways to promote its drain cleaner. In 2014, it introduced an online game, “Clog Culprits,” that lengthened the time visitors to its website stayed there, from one minute to an average of almost six minutes, and created top-of-mind awareness, the company says.
Another Liquid-Plumr ad for its Double Impact extra powerful drain opener got outsized media attention because of a double-entendre script in which a woman fantasizes about two hunky plumbers who arrive at her home, one to “snake her drain” and the other to “flush her pipe.”
Clorox also recently used vlogger Hannah Hart, who came to YouTube fame for her “My Drunk Kitchen” videos, to promote Glad Press n’ Seal.
It also tapped San Francisco Warriors star Stephen Curry and YouTube star Randy Mancuso for a Brita water filters video.
Recent research says some legacy brands have trouble relating to millennials, possibly because they aren’t targeting that demo where they are. Kellis says Liquid-Plumr liked “the authentic style and audience of our influencer partner” that would “generate relatable awareness.”