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  • Writer's pictureLiz at the Flaxen

We Spent 96 Hours In The Desert… | Zac Efron: Putting the "Why" in YouTube #003

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Intern Zac is back with another insightful first impression, this time on the HUGE debut YouTube upload by megastar Zac Efron. And of course I've shared my expert opinion on just how this single upload drove 1.2 million views and 454K subscribers in just 1 week. Bonkers eh? Well Intern Zac seems to thinks so. We have quite different opinions on this one so let's pick this apart and figure out what happened...

Zac Efron, We Spent 96 Hours In The Desert… | Off The Grid

Liz Says:

This video is part of growing trend of mega stars starting YouTube channels, with Will Smith's content being the most talked about and arguably the best executed so far. The crazy traffic for Efron's video came from a few obvious places. Zac Efron’s social following is massive (38 million instagram followers). Searches for Zac Efron have peaked this year according to Google Trends due to the hype around Zac's portrayal of serial killer Ted Bundy in the upcoming movie, so the timing for this launch was excellent. Plus YouTube tweeted their support for this video. Leading to immediate backlash from the community calling it out as favourable treatment that grass roots and YouTube native creators rarely get.

So lots of people found the video quickly. But they watched it because it works really well. It is great platform specific content that centres on a very high profile celebrity. This is a lesson for us all in how to start a YouTube channel and yeah, I’m a little jealous this isn’t my project!

Zac Says:

It is easy to see from Zac Efron's demeanour throughout the video that he is relatively new to the concept of vlogging and that his brother Dylan seems more clued up. A quick look at his brother's Instagram profile shows that he is a self-proclaimed film maker. I do find Zac Efron quite unlikable in this video especially in the smugness of the way he speaks. I think this is typified when he talks about this enriching experience of going off grid and camping out, with his massive boat and jet skis, as if it is something everyone should be doing more of. It is almost as if he is forgetting that most people aren’t as privileged as he is so don’t have the resources or time to do such a trip. Despite that, Zac Efron has promised weekly videos and after an interesting first video I am excited to see how he develops his channel. We can presume that his brother will play a big role in future videos, given his filming experience and his speech at the end of the video. In this final speech Dylan talks about how he is excited for more travels with his brother which may give us a hint as to what is to come.

Liz's expert opinion (the Why!):

Everything about this video is a textbook example of how to do YouTube. The content structure, metadata, thumbnail, branding, programming strategy, even the channel banner and end cards are excellent.

Taking a look at the content structure, we can liken it to a finely crafted meal (disclaimer, I was hungry at time of writing).

Aperitif: The content is teased right from the get go. From frame 1 it is abundantly clear that this content is candid, behind the scenes and access all areas. It is narrated by Zac Efron who right away gets really personal and shares a vulnerability with this new audience which wets our appetite for the rest of the video and indeed future uploads.

Appetiser: We follow with a montage of beautifully shot, incredibly aspirational action scenes. If we didn’t know this video was going to be adventure-based we sure do now. Fill me up Team Efron!

Pallet Cleanser: The clever team have popped a title frame in at 44 seconds. This shows that the video is official and lends it some authority. It also positions it as part of a series called "Off The Grid" which screams to us “subscribe for more!”

Video meat: I'm not sure that's a term. Hey it is now! The main section of this work starts with ‘Day 1”. This device plus the video title work together to help us as viewers understand what we’re in for. We know we get to sit with this video for 4 days of glorious action and yep, we're going to do it. You got us Efrons!

Dessert: Assuming we've all got this far the end cards remind us to subscribe again and point us in the direction of new content. And I'm sated.

Yes this is indulgent, self promoting and at times patronising (thanks for pointing that out intern Zac!) but it's also very good!

What do you think? Ping us a message at

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