Brands on YouTube: How McDonald’s and Mini Messi Won the World Cup

With the group stage matches of the FIFA World Cup now complete, we get a chance to look back and appreciate one of the tournament’s best marketing victories so far. McDonald’s World Cup ad “Gol!” (embedded below) has been getting praise from left and right for its fun, engaging, and whimsical style, all without the benefit of any high-power soccer stars. Some are even left wondering whether this might be the best World Cup ad ever:

Yet, if you really want to know why this ad feels so authentic and refreshing, it all comes back to the power of fans on YouTube. Once you begin digging around for the sources of inspiration for this brilliant video, you’ll find fan-created content at the root. And, when it comes to building a winning YouTube strategy, letting fans inform the style and substance of your content is simply a must have for any brand seeking marketing glory.

How Ciaran Duffy, aka “Mini Messi,” got his start on YouTube

One of the most impressive scenes from McDonald’s “Gol!” is when a young boy kicks a ball around a moving escalator and into a basket. Even more impressive? Well, check out the behind-the-scenes footage that McDonald’s was kind enough to provide us:

Whoa. That talented lad’s name is Ciaran Duffy, though many more likely know him as “Mini Messi.” Simply do a YouTube search for “Mini Messi,” and you’ll begin to understand why Ciaran drew the attention of McDonald’s. Although you’ll discover videos from other youngsters claiming the “Mini Messi” name for themselves, it’s Ciaran’s personal YouTube channel, “This is Duffy,” that dominates the top search results.

We also ran a ZEFR search for his total presence on YouTube, and we found 574 videos featuring Ciaran, which have attracted more than 8 million views. 

Here is the earliest video available on Ciaran’s channel, uploaded back in 2011 when he was just eight years old from his home in Dublin, Ireland:

And here is his most viewed video, uploaded in 2012, now approaching four million views:

So, who needs to shell out millions for an endorsement deal from the real Messi when the stars of the future are just waiting to be discovered on YouTube?

In this case, Ciaran reveals that you don’t always need to find that blockbuster spokesperson to make an impact. YouTube is filled with millions of video creators just like Ciaran who are simply fans with every sort of passion imaginable, and they are making compelling, authentic content about the things they love every single day. What matters is being able to find that content, understand its value, and incorporate it into your strategy in the right way.

Meanwhile, since Ciaran’s appearance in the ad, his dream of walking on a World Cup pitch came true earlier in the tournament, as he got to walk out with the Spanish national team before their match against Chile:

The end result? Smiles all around thanks to a genius McDonald’s ad campaign, inspired by YouTube, without a single hamburger in sight.


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