The Hundred Thousand Dollar Dentist Visit: Money From Viral

A seven-year-old kid goes to the dentist to have a tooth removed and feels woozy as the anaesthetic gradually wears off. Dad records his kid’s verbal ramblings for two minutes. Video ends up on YouTube in January 2009. It goes viral.

Just over a year later the Dad has a thriving internet business off the back of one video shot on a camera phone.  True story.

Who are these people? Where did they come from? What was the dad’s motive for filming his son in this state? And how did this translate into a hundred thousand dollar money-making marketing venture?! Let’s find out.

First, somewhat confusingly, father and son have the same name: David DeVore. So, from this point on, we’ll call them David Sr and David Jr. The DeVore’s are from Orlando, Florida and David Sr’s line of work revolved around real estate.

What was the inspiration?

David Jr had been suffering from hyperdontia– the presence of an extra tooth. David Sr filmed the footage to reassure his wife (who was involved in a meeting) that the dental procedure had gone to plan and there was no reason to be unduly concerned. He posted his findings (to his friends’ amusement) on Facebook, and then later on YouTube. His. Very. First. Post.

That post has now recorded more than 56 million hits in 15 months, and its popularity continues to grow on a daily basis at an extraordinary rate. According to the DeVore’s website, the video was the second most-watched video of 2009 (source YouTube), trailing only to Susan Boyle’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ debut audition.

Beginners luck? Not bad for a video that was designed to reassure David Jr’s mother…

But there is still a missing ingredient in the recipe. YouTube video + funny/interesting content + popularity doesn’t automatically translate as lucrative financial windfall, as Eric Cartman and the South Park crew found out to their disappointment… Stealing the immortal line from the 1996 film Jerry Maguire: “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

The Washington Post points to some answers:

On, visitors can buy T-shirts ($20) and stickers ($5). They can watch the parodies, which include Darth Vader imitating David, and a Super Bowl commercial starring Beyoncé and David, promoting consumer electronics company Vizio.

All in all, with the licensing deals, the T-shirts and a YouTube ad partnership, the DeVores have amassed “in the low six figures,” DeVore says. ‘More than $100,000.’ (This works out, by the way, to approximately $840 per second for the less-than-two-minute video). Around $6,000 of that has gone to the children’s charity Operation Smile.” 

Just think- you can pay all that money for an ad campaign, millions upon millions for a Super Bowl ad, and yet your message can be surpassed by a guy taking his kid to the dentist, who unintentionally captivates a global audience without any real marketing purpose.

As David Jr observes in the video: “Is this real life?”


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