Viral-video creator Travis Chambers, JCOM grad, named in Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ young innovators
Viral videos are so six months ago.
That’s the update from a guy who made his name creating these small-screen snippets that are so contagious viewers share them with all their friends.
The thing these days is not whether the video is viral, but whether it seems viral.
And, says Travis Chambers, a Jorunalsim and Communications grad and the owner of a busy video production company, you can quote him on this.
Chambers is indeed a reliable source on just about anything relating to social media and creating popular videos.
He’s been recognized as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30,” an annual list that highlights on a national level what the magazine calls “the impressive, the inspiring and the (genuinely) enviable.”
The Forbes recognition, released in the magazine’s December 2017 issue, identifies 30 “young stars” in 20 different industries. Chambers was included in the marketing and advertising category.
The award is impressive — “My wife was way more excited than I was. She said, ‘So I didn’t marry a loser after all’,’’ he jokes. But perhaps Chambers’ special gift is his nose for change. He never grows too fond of a fad or format, and he can shift into reverse without braking.
“In the media world, whatever your model is becomes irrelevant every six months,” he says. “It’s crazy!”
You may have been among the 146 million people who chuckled at the viral video of basketball’s Kobe Bryant and soccer star Lionel Messi competing in an epic battle of selfies. Or the energetic video of 50 exercisers frolicking on Nordic Track units. (Quick! YouTube break.)
Chambers was the creative genius behind those videos. Forbes magazine cited Chambers’ production company, chamber.media, with reported revenue of $2 million in the last year, as well as the “super-viral” video ad for Turkish Airlines featuring Bryant and Messi, for which Chambers oversaw content strategy and distribution while at Crispin Porter + Bogus, an international advertising company.
That is just one line item on the 29-year-old’s impressive resume. At the time he left to establish his own video and advertising company, he was director of social media at 20th Century Fox.
Chambers graduated from USU in 2011, the year the word “social” gave up flirting and finally married the word “media.” Snapchat and Instagram were introduced that same year.
And during his months as a young intern in an ad agency, companies were spending less than 2 percent on social media. Now, he says, social media makes up more than 50 percent of ad budgets that once went to television, magazines and other formats.
“I think it’s Moore’s law of technology, whereas things evolve not incrementally but exponentially,” he said. “Because of technology and the pace that people are communicating now, it continues to be exponential.”
The same thing goes for media and entertainment. For one visible example, he says, consider Netflix. It’s only been about eight years since the video-streaming service was mailing DVDs. “Now,” he says, “they’re going to soon be the largest single media entertainment outlet in the world.”
Chambers said he knew at an early age that he was headed for a career in advertising, and by age 12 he was carrying a video camera making “funny home videos.” He was drawn to advertising rather than, say, independent film making, he said, because he liked advertising’s mix of creativity and business.
He grew up in Oregon and Washington, enrolling at USU at the urging of his parents, both former Aggies. His father David Chambers now lives in Smithfield.
As a student in JCOM’s public relations track, Chambers created his own “catered program.”
“I decided I was going to take advantage of all the resources that were available to me,” he said. “I combined my education with internships and clubs and fraternity – trying to get all the experience I could.” Among those experiences was a year as a USU Ambassador.
Chambers was in Los Angeles employed by 20th Century Fox, his disenchantment with the Hollywood culture growing, when his daughter was born. That changed pretty much everything, he says now. He took the “terrifying” leap of leaving a regular paycheck and founding his own company. He describes his decision in an essay.
The crew at Chamber, LLC, numbers about 20 people at its American Fork-based studio, and the company brings in a constant stream of contract writers and actors. The studio specializes in what Chambers calls “scalable” videos. These big-money videos made specifically to go viral, he says, are the next evolution in an industry that relies on consumers who love to share videos.
Chambers has given himself the job title of “chief media hacker,” which describes his multiple roles as writer, producer and, in the end, the most important job: distributing the video on social media channels to reach as receptive an audience as possible.
“I do all of this in a way that’s focused on being able to sell (products) as effectively as possible — and entertain and delight people,” he said. The job doesn’t end there. It continues on with the complex task of distributing the content on social media to target predetermined audiences. “We dive into the data and the quantitative side,” he said.
“The only way I could really sum up the whole thing is that I’m not just the creative director or ad buyer or producer – I’m a media hacker.”