Cultural Trends

A wise coach once said, “Championships are won at practice.” This classic sports cliche sums up the immense, behind-the-scenes effort that is an essential element of any winning team. What fans see on game day is merely the end result of hours and hours of physical and mental preparation, from hitting the weights to bonding with teammates over videos games. For the die-hard sports fan dreaming of an all-access pass into this daily routine, YouTube provides an open door.

As havens for a close-knit team, sports locker rooms are notoriously difficult for your average fan to get into (just ask Drake). So, we decided to search YouTube for the keys to the door. What we found is an emerging trend for video content that savvy sports brands should consider adding to their alignment strategy.

locker room videos on youtube

Locker Room Tours

In general, “tour” videos on YouTube are a huge trend and can be seen across many different verticals. We recently talked about “car tours,” and also gave a broad overview of the trend in our Beyond Reviews report on video styles influencing consumer purchases. Imagine a space, and you can probably get a tour of it on YouTube. There are even “fridge tours.” The popularity of the tour video comes from its intimacy and authenticity, as you are guided through a private space by someone who has lived in it long enough to know every inch and corner like the back of their own hand.

“Locker room tours” are no different, as they frequently feature current or former players who have spent long hours and endured triumphant and painful memories all inside these elaborately appointed athletic spaces. Here is a look inside the Memphis Tigers’ locker room with linebacker Akeem Davis:

And because YouTube is where any niche interest can thrive, here is a recent tour of the Syracuse lacrosse team’s locker room with ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Kevin Rice:

While these players are surely biased in the assessment of their own team’s facilities (considering they are likely also attempting to woo future recruits as much as please their super fans) their genuine pride is undeniable. The act of opening up a private space for the world to see (and judge) can take some guts, but the possible payoff in building fan loyalty can be immeasurable.

locker room tours video data on youtube

Locker Room Speeches

We’ve all seen the epic halftime speeches from our favorite films and TV shows. But, like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell once sang, ain’t nothin like the real thing, baby. Not to take anything away from an actor delivering a great speech (we’re looking at you, Al Pacino), but there is a big difference between perfectly rehearsed lines and the kind of spontaneous moments of inspiration delivered in the real-world locker rooms, in the midst of real games with real stakes. These moments are everywhere on YouTube.

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is one of the most popular locker-room speakers out there, firing up teams around the country. Here he is talking to the Stanford men’s basketball team before an NIT tournament game:

If that doesn’t get you “pissed off for greatness,” check your pulse. Or, just check out the YouTube comments to see what you’re missing:

locker room speeches on youtube zefr data

Locker Room Celebrations

After all the hard work during practice and all the motivational orations from the coach, the emotional release from a team after a hard-fought victory can be really powerful. This is especially true if it means the team is raising up the championship trophy.

Just watch this video of Michigan State after winning the Rose Bowl in 2014:

The locker room can barely contain the energy from the players. The feeling of pure joy is so palpable, it jumps from the screen. Often in such moments, words escape the players as they try in vain to describe their emotions. Only video can accurately capture what it really feels like to be named a champion.


Rabid sports fans never warm the bench. Once the referee blows that final whistle, or sounds the horn to end a contest, fans do not sit idly by, waiting for the next game. In the past, ZEFR has spoken to the power of the fan, but nothing compares to the power of the lifelong fan of an athletic team. The actual games are only one part of a sports fanatic’s life. With the emerging trend of locker room tours on YouTube, sports fans are quickly flocking to this insider look at their favorite team.

In today’s digital video landscape, aligning your brand only with the timeout and halftime breaks during a televised game misses an enormous opportunity to reach the most dedicated sports fans. Whether it’s those special moments in the locker room, or any of the other countless steps on an athlete’s journey to greatness, contextual targeting on YouTube allows your brand to reach the right audience in a way previously unimaginable. If your marketing playbook doesn’t include a comprehensive YouTube strategy, it’s time to gather your team and give them the speech that ensures victory.


Get future posts delivered to your inbox

Brand Spotlight

This Sunday marks the kickoff of America’s favorite cultural tradition – watching Super Bowl commercials. In between the commercials, there will also be an important sporting event taking place between two football clubs known as the “Seattle Seahawks” and the “Denver Broncos.”

All kidding aside, whether you’re talking about the action on the field at MetLife Stadium or the big budget commercials on TV, what’s clear is that YouTube has already made a huge impact on Super Bowl XLVIII.

The Ads, Teasers and All

While YouTube has always been a destination to watch the best Super Bowl ads, the biggest trend for brands the past couple of years has been to release teasers, creating buzz and anticipation around the upcoming game day spot. And, in many cases, brands are simply releasing the ad in full and attracting tens of millions of views online well before the first commercial break on Sunday.

Aaron Taube at Business Insider points out why this strategy is paying off for brands:

“With the average 30-second slot at the Super Bowl costing brands a cool $4 million, it would seem counterintuitive that they would spoil the surprise by giving away details about the ads in advance, let alone the commercials in their entirety.

But that logic doesn’t take into account that the Super Bowl is no longer the only game in town. Though the Super Bowl’s audience of 110 million American viewers will almost definitely make it the most watched television program of 2014, brands are beginning to find they can reach large numbers of consumers just as easily online.”

As an example, with almost 23 million views in just 2 days as of this writing, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” spot reminds us why cute things on the internet tend to perform well:

Check out YouTube’s very own AdBlitz channel for a full collection of ads from this year’s game. Plus, the channel will let fans vote for their favorite ones.


The Teams, But Mostly Richard Sherman

As we revealed last week, Richard Sherman set YouTube ablaze with his post NFC Championship comments. Since then, his view count has only climbed and climbed, so ZEFR ran another search to see what Mr. Sherman’s reach looks like as of today:

Richard Sherman videos uploaded since Jan. 19: 3,504
Total Views: 24,883,105
Total Comments: 59,204

As for the brand image of the teams, ZEFR also ran a search to see whether the Seahawks or Broncos found their way into more YouTube video titles since punching their ticket to the big game two weeks ago. Here are the results:

Videos with Broncos in the title since 1-19-2014: 2,928
Broncos title view count: 3,790,743
Videos with Seahawks in title since 1-19-2014: 3,889
Seahawks title view count: 10,911,764

So, it’s fair to assume that the Seahawks can thank Richard Sherman for their victory in this particular matchup.

But, when it comes to making predictions, is there a better method of expert research than a video game simulation? EA Sports has the answer with their 1.7 million view hit:

Hard to argue with that life like analysis.

The Fans, The Ultimate Winner

Of course, what we’ve shown above only scratches the surface of what YouTube has to offer for anyone interested in the big game, and the result is a major win for the fans. When brands create engaging content for the platform, it not only results in high view counts on their own channels – it also inspires amazing user generated content, and the scope of that content is simply unparalleled.

Trying to figure out what to wear on Sunday to really show off your team spirit? YouTube has you covered:

As you’ll see, the story goes much deeper on YouTube once you uncover the passion of the fans. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to look. And, for a global event like the Super Bowl, the depth of content never seems to end, creating an opportunity unlike any other.


Get future posts delivered to your inbox

Cultural TrendsEvents

One of the first viral events of 2014 emerged this week after the final whistle of the NFC Championship game in Seattle. In case you missed it, here’s what pretty much everyone, football fan or otherwise, can’t seem to stop talking about:

Now, this particular video upload by user ROCKHEADSTUDIOS has almost 2 million views as of this writing, and nearly 3,000 comments. But, while those numbers alone may sound decent enough for a 30 second sound bite posted just three days ago, you can bet that the story on YouTube goes much deeper than just a single, high view count video. Whether it’s all the re-uploads, the remixes, the parodies, personal response videos, etc., the conversation just keeps building, and its impact goes farther and farther the closer you look.

So, we decided to run a search using ZEFR tech to get the full picture thus far:

Richard Sherman videos uploaded since Jan. 19: 2,348
Total Views: 13,681,072
Total Comments: 31,072

Thus, as indicated by that 13+ million views figure, it’s clear that the full depth of activity surrounding a viral event on YouTube isn’t always readily apparent from a basic search. If you’re only looking at the most watched videos, then you’re failing to capture the true level of engagement that is actually happening on the platform.

This engagement happens in various ways. As an example of the sorts of creativity waiting around every corner of YouTube, check out this masterful edit, which provides a perfect commentary on the importance of “context”:

Moreover, when looking at YouTube as a discovery engine for related content, the viral event itself can spill over onto other related videos and affect their performance in a huge way. Consider the timing of these two videos from Nike and Beats by Dre respectively, both featuring Richard Sherman to varying degrees and both uploaded on the same day of his now infamous interview:

The Beats by Dre video in particular is almost too perfect, and a quick look at the comments section says a lot about why the video has nearly 1.5 million views already:

youtube data youtube data

youtube data

youtube data

Certainly, many of the comments generated from this event have been less than exemplary of the kind of discourse you might wish to see in 2014, as plenty of commentators have discussed at length. Nevertheless, the YouTube comments will keep on coming, and the views generated from this viral event will continue to rise. And, ultimately, what matters is the ability to recognize the full scope of the conversation going on. Only then can you try to measure the impact and properly understand the implications.


Get future posts delivered to your inbox