1. “Me at the zoo” (2005)
This 18-second video of Youtube cofounder Jawed Karim standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo started it all. “It’s amazing how unassuming the first video on Youtube is,” Gahan says. “In a lot of ways it’s representative of Youtube — it doesn’t need to be this fancy production; it can be approachable. The first Youtube video is something anyone could create on their own.”
2. “Lazy Sunday” (2005)
Saturday Night Live stopped being cool sometime in the 1990s. Then “Lazy Sunday” happened, in which Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell rapped about buying candy and seeing “Chronicles of Narnia.” The video went bonkers on Youtube before it was taken down. “Lazy Sunday was one of the first times where Youtube went everywhere,” Gahan says. “It was like a viral moment for Youtube as well. Instantly that player was everywhere you went.”
3. “Pokemon theme” (2005)
The Youtube star universe started with Smosh, the name of comedy duo Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. In total, their parody videos about video games and pop culture have amassed 6 billion views and 32 million subscribers. It all started with their singing the Pokemon theme song. “It was right when all the coverage around Youtube was coming in, right before the Google acquisition,” Gahan says. “It really propelled Smosh to stardom.”
4. “Sunglass catch” (2007)
This Ray-Ban produced video was one of the first viral ads. Blurring the line between real and fake, the video shows two guys throwing sunglasses at one another from atop a bridge or into a moving car, with the wayfarers magically landing on the other’s face. “It was a lot of stupid tricks,” Gahan says, “but they did really well, and the videos were an a-ha moment for brands.” Marketers realized Youtube could reach big audiences.