I recently wrote quite a long piece on Microcultures for the Warc/Admap planning essay competition and was chuffed to get Bronze, with my piece published in July’s Admap issue. It’s even more gratifying to see exactly the kind of thing I was talking about bursting into mainstream recently.

To quickly explain a ‘microculture’, I define it as any niche community that has its own rules, conventions, language and relationships.

So, here’s Nikkie for Volkswagon’s ‘Don’t do makeup and drive’ ad –

And here’s Lauren Luke on domestic abuse for Refuge –

Both of these ads are twisting the conventions of the Youtube makeup tutorial to produce a shock to the viewers and spread a public awareness message.

Importantly, they both have used popular beauty bloggers. No doubt the agencies wanted to use their pre-existing following to boost their views and ‘shareability’, but it’s also important as it means giving something to that community, rather than just taking from it. As adverts for a good cause, they don’t undermine the credibility of the Youtubers themselves.

It also shows how worthwhile it is to be interested and engaged in niche communities and cultures, whether as an enthusiast or as an advertiser. These women began by creating videos in their bedrooms, without any training or fanbase, and experimenting on themselves. They now have hundreds of millions of views, a loyal fanbase and influence how women buy makeup and create looks around the world. It’s amazing how creativity flourishes in the corners of the Internet.

These adverts are a great way to use a niche audience to promote a wider good cause, and nearly 2 million views between them show how well microcultures can do in the mainstream.

What’s next? Cam girls? Haul videos? Investigate the shadow side of Youtube and be inspired.


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