DEBATE: Was Hello World Doomed From The Start?

9 November 2017, 14:35

Hello World poster
Hello World poster. Picture: other
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

Was it ever going to work?

Hello World Live was something of a mixed bag. For some, it was a wonderful experience where fans got to meet some of their favourite YouTubers, see a great show and have a nice time. For many others, it was a nightmare of endless queueing, elusive YouTubers and a £99 ticket that didn't seem worth it.

But with everything that was promised ahead of the event, with all of the 'too good to be true' feelings that were swirling in the air before it took place, we have to ask - was it ever even possible for the event to succeed?

hello world
hello world. Picture: other

What were the issues?

I'm aware this sounds very doom and gloom. The event was not a natural disaster, people did not plunge into lava - it was merely a YouTuber event that left a bunch of fans feeling disappointed. But stay with me, let's run through why the fans were disappointed and then see if it was even possible for them not to be disappointed.

Hello World
Hello World. Picture: other

Issue 1: what are the YouTubers going to actually do?

The first issue, and the one that sort of speaks to the heart of a lot of the problems with YouTuber events, is the question of what exactly the YouTubers are gonna, you know, do at the event.

If you are a YouTube musician, you will play music, if you are a comedian you will perform, if you are a baker you will bake, if you are a Lean Machine will do fitness workshops - but a vlogger? What does a vlogger do at an event they are headlining? And more importantly, what does a fan want a vlogger to do at an event?

The only answer is: meet fans. Vloggers build their name and their audience off the back of creating a relationship with their audience. The talent they bring is the ability to befriend thousands if not millions of people. There, when attending an event, their 'performance' will be to meet those online 'friends'.

Which brings us to our second issue. (By the way, feel free to read these 'issues' in your head in a Dua Lipa New Rules voice).

via GIPHY

Issue 2: meeting and greeting

"Hello World is not a meet and greet." - This phrase was repeated over and over by YouTubers, before and after the event. "It's not a meet and greet, it's an immersive live show."

The organisers and stars of Hello World knew, to their credit, that it would be impossible for an entire stadium full of fans to meet their favourite YouTuber. But they didn't actually do anything to solve that problem, instead they simply repeated that it "isn't a meet and greet" and then... did meet fans at the event. But, of course, not all of them.

For real though. If a fan has paid £99 to come to a Zoella event, they're doing it to meet Zoe, or to at least get a Zoe experience. Many fans couldn't meet their fave because of the queuing, so the only thing they were left with is the live show and the show floor - which happens to bring us to be our next issue.

Issue 3: what does 'immersive live show' even mean?

Hello World poster
Hello World poster. Picture: other

'Immersive live show' was the marketing phrase used to sell Hello World Live. But what does that mean? YouTubers were using it as an argument against the event being a meet and greet, but the word 'immersive' literally means that fans would be involved in the action.

An 'immersive show' is one where fans take part in the action. A show you simply stand and watch is not an 'immersive show', it is 'a show'. If you are standing at the side of a swimming pool and looking at the pool, you are not 'immersed' in water.

The idea was that the event was meant to be a living thing, with stuff happening everywhere all the time. YouTubers were meant to be popping up all over the place at different stages and doing interactive things like baking workshops. There was also the promise of things like 'carnival rides'.

Marketing material ahead of the event specifically implied that attendees would be actively involved in the events of the show (in an immersive fashion, if you will). Take a look at this highlighted sentence from the event website, which is pretty cheeky in hindsight:

From the official Hello World website
From the official Hello World website. Picture: other

Did that happen?

Did that happen? No, of course it didn't. You have a stadium filled with fans, it's impossible for all of them to have a hands-on fun experience like that, just as it's impossible for all of them to meet their faves. An immersive live experience just isn't possible with that amount of people unless you are operating on a Disney World-like scale.

The show floor was strangely empty. There were no rides, there wasn't even very much merch on sale (there was a book building, but it didn't actually sell books?) Fans spent a lot of time just wandering around waiting for a YouTuber to appear at one of the little stages, which they seemed to do relatively infrequently. It was, in a word, odd.

From the official Hello World website
From the official Hello World website. Picture: other

How could it have worked?

It seems to be that there are two clear ways that this event could have really worked (or even, could work, if they bring it back for 2018).

Solution 1: Make it smaller

Hello World was, in many ways, self-contradictory. It was an intimate and interactive event, hosted in a massive space with massive crowds. The only way that kind of 'immersive' action would work is if you scaled things right down, so that attendees at least have a chance to catch a glimpse of a fave. We were at the event and when on the main floor you often had look over three or four rows of fans to even see a YouTuber when they appeared in their curious little appearance pens.

We The Unicorns had the pleasure of taking part in 'Hangout Live', an event put on by Shout Magazine, and it was a blast. It worked because it was a similar setup to Hello World, but on a much smaller scale, so that if you wanted to walk over to, say, Mikey Pearce, and grab a picture, you could.

Realistically though, they probably won't do this. If you have an event that can sell a stadium's worth of tickets, then management companies are always going to want to do that. This is a business, after all.

So, if it must be a huge event, then we move on to solution 2.

Solution 2: Just make it a meet and greet

Just cut to the chase and do a big meet and greet.

It's what the fans want, it's what they came for. Fans want to meet YouTubers. And come on, let's be real, it's not that hard to meet a bunch of fans who adore you.

All these fans want to do is tell you how much you mean to them and have a picture; it's not exactly working in a mine.

Summer In The City faced issues with meet and greet organisation in the past but now they've got in down to an art using a ballot system. You can still do your finale live show (which fans, incidentally seem to have enjoyed) but just also give them a meet and greet.

Luke Cutforth meets a fan at SITC
Luke Cutforth meets a fan at SITC. Picture: other