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GQ Posts Huge Video Growth Thanks to Starry Digital Shorts

Dwayne Johnson, Steph Curry and more narrative shorts have views up nearly 300% from 2016

Conde Nast men’s magazine GQ posted an impressive 300 percent gain in video viewers  over last year thanks to the cheeky digital shorts the brand has been making with its cover stars.

The videos, like a scripted comedy short in which Dwayne Johnson auditions for sequels to “Goodfellas” and “Home Alone,” are responsible for 85 million views on the GQ site alone. That’s not counting millions of views through third-party platforms like Facebook and the magazine’s YouTube channel.

The content represents a pivot from the traditional way video is used to promote magazine covers — which typically manifests as extended behind-the-scenes footage from photo shoots and a few quick sound bites from a star.

“We try to ask ourselves, ‘What’s going to feel like a natural fit?’ Super-funny, late-night types of things can be a perfect fit,” GQ Executive Video Producer Dorenna Newton said.

Indeed, content featuring bold-face names has been boiled down into viral novelties over the past few years.

Take the success of SpikeTV’s “Lip Sync Battle” or the enduring power of “Carpool Karaoke,” currently airing as a web series exclusive to Apple TV. The GQ team pointed to an April cover featuring NBA star Steph Curry as evidence of how they’re trying to break out.

“We didn’t try to make him be funny or perform, but we had him do something that he was very passionate about — an intense game of street ball,” GQ Executive Digital Director Mike Hofman said of the clip, in which Curry plays a game of horse with unsuspecting high school kids

The team shoots on location or builds sets to scale at Conde Nast’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center. They also recruit name directors and Hollywood up-and-comers like Vikram Gandhi (Netflix’s “Barry”), who helped Robert Pattinson find the best hot dog in New York City to promote his August cover.

“There are a lot of studios out there that wish that they produced films with The Rock and Robert Pattinson this year,” Hofman said.