Commercial makes Red House Furniture a YouTube sensation
If you channel-surf during the late night hours, you'll find a number of low-budget, semi-professional commercials of auto dealers, law firms and any other local companies. Now a YouTube ad of a High Point furniture store is taking this art to another level. WFAE's Simone Orendain has more. People around the world know about the Red House Furniture Store in High Point all because of this: "Can't we all just get along?" ask Red House employees of different races, as they sit on a sofa. "At the Red House Furniture, we can!" A month after its YouTube debut, this ad had more than a million hits. In the online video world, that's huge. Red House Vice President Steve Patalano and the staff just didn't see it coming. "Within 24 hours after it came out on their website our phone started ringing off the hook," he says. "Then within three days the radio and TV stations started calling and doing interviews. Really it hasn't stopped here it is a month and it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger and bigger!" The commercial aims to sell furniture based on a hot button topic: Race. Images of black people and white people shaking hands flash across the screen. First, curious viewers from all over wanted to know if the store really exists. And whether the message of racial harmony is for real. Patalano answers, "From the customers to the employees, we're all a big family up here. We didn't see anything wrong with saying, well I'm black and I love the Red House or I work at the Red House." The Red House is a relatively small family-owned business approaching its 50th anniversary. It's off High Point's Main Street. Inside the store, workers have a new uniform, it's a red tee-shirt bearing the images of Richard "Big Head" Pina and Johnny "10-gauge" Hill with the phrase, "The Red House where all people buy furniture." The shirts are selling too. Patalano says within the week mugs and koozies should be coming in. Pina's real life job is sales manager. "For us it was a general commercial. We looked at our customer base and we decided we were comfortable with it. In terms of how the general public views it, everyone has a different eye." The commercial was made by the Fayetteville-area video production and entertainment duo "Rhett and Link" -- Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal. You can see and hear them singing in the ad. "Yeah, it was risky. I thought people would react and call it racist or something like that, which happened," says Link Neal. He says it didn't take long to receive messages that asked if the commercial is racist. "So within those first few hours we wrote up this kind of manifesto response we turned on the webcam and Rhett just read it," Neal says. Here's a portion of what Rhet McLaughlin read for a YouTube response to critics of the commercial: "It doesn't promote hatred or intolerance, rather it's the very opposite. This commercial promotes inclusion and reconciliation, if not in a comical way. And to point out the obvious the irony in this video is that it's completely ridiculous for people to relate furniture to their race. People of all colors are welcome at the red house, which is something we take for granted in the year 2009. but there was a time in the not so distant past during which things as simple as a water fountain were not for everybody." McLaughlin says when they first got to the Red House they saw a pretty ordinary furniture store and no off-the-wall characters. But they found a running theme as they brainstormed with employees. "Richard 'Big Head' -- the black guy from the commercial, (said) 'You know, we're kind of like the Rainbow Coalition here. We're black and white and we serve black and white people.' And we were like, 'Well, let's run with that!'" Credit manager Johnny "10-gauge" Hill says the ad really depicts what the store is about. He says the day they shot the commercial was pretty typical. "You could see the people who came in that day. Black, Hispanic, Asian. We had all them people come in that day," says Hill. The ad didn't cost the Red House anything. It was a thank you gift from the store's credit and fraud check company. So as far as manager Steve Patalano is concerned, it's an unexpected windfall.
'Internetainers' Make Money Off YouTube Hits
YouTube celebrities Rhett (left) and Link are part of a growing number of filmmakers who are finding ways to profit via the Internet. The duo makes sponsored videos that don't look sponsored. Courtesy of Rhett & Link hide caption
YouTube celebrities Rhett (left) and Link are part of a growing number of filmmakers who are finding ways to profit via the Internet. The duo makes sponsored videos that don't look sponsored.Courtesy of Rhett & Link
The Making Of The Red House Furniture Commercial
The Making Of 'Fast Food Folk Song'
Many viral Internet videos become famous by accident, such as the YouTube hit of Susan Boyle, who sang on a British television show one night and was watched by millions online the next day.
But a growing number of filmmakers are finding ways to profit from the Internet by creating content that is professional, poignant or just plain funny.
Few are more successful than Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal. They are comic filmmakers or, as they call themselves, "Internetainers." They have produced more than 200 videos from their basement studio in a small town in rural North Carolina. Those videos have been watched more than 16 million times.
Rhett and Link, as they're known on YouTube and on their own Web site, met in first grade.
"We were friends right from the start," says Link. "You know, looking back, you can see that you were wired to be an entertainer. Every opportunity there was to get in front of a group, Rhett and I said, 'Yeah, let's do a rap song.' "
"At the Beta Club Convention," adds Rhett.
"Yeah, who raps at the Beta Club Convention?" says Link, laughing.
But despite their early inclinations, neither of them thought of pursuing careers as entertainers. Instead, they went to North Carolina State University together, and they each got married and got jobs as engineers. But they still loved performing. A friend's wedding gave them another chance. Link remembers part of a song they wrote for the rehearsal dinner.
"We've seen Greg naked," he sings. "Soon you will, too. Hope you enjoy it, more than we do."
The song got a big laugh, and after the rehearsal dinner, says Link, their wives gave them the last push they needed to make a go at what they really wanted to do.
"And at that point, our wives say, 'You got a knack for that. You need to do more of that. That's what you need to be doing.' It was like the green light to say, 'Well, let's start setting our sights on something besides engineering,' " he says.
But engineering was a paying gig — making funny Internet videos was not. Rhett's father-in-law gave them free studio space in the basement of his dentist's office, and they went about making this their career. They and their families lived month to month for a while, until they hit on a plan to make sponsored videos that don't look sponsored.
One of them was the Taco Bell drive-through song, which Taco Bell paid for. Their latest viral sensation is sponsored by a company called MicroBilt. MicroBilt's clients are small businesses, and they wanted Rhett and Link to design a customer-appreciation campaign. The comedians came up with the idea to make fake local commercials for real stores. In the video for Red House Furniture in High Point, N.C., they use the touchy subject of race to comedic effect. The video has more than 1 million views on YouTube.
Some day soon, Rhett and Link may be more than "just" Internet famous — maybe they'll do an independent film project with an actual budget.
But for now, they're back in the basement, where the motivation is just to try to be funny and pay the rent — if Rhett's father-in-law ever gets around to asking for it.
Dave DeWitt reports for North Carolina Public Radio.
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Joel Handy2 months ago
hiz overwhelming compassion and unconditional love that he had for playing , helped him to endure to capture the true essence of greatness , while his heart was true and real ,he waz'nt full of pride or envy , he had to overcome much pressures , racial tension's, he waz in my opinion a true inspiration , as he took alot in , the discrimination, the Racsim, and wow he took all of that negativity of his generation , suffering and sacrifices were evident in his life , however James Marshall Hendrix did'nt succumb to fail , but he achieved hiz dreAmz ,Rest in Peace Jimi Hendrix
Jordan3 months ago
One note is that he has a guitar phrasing on this song I haven't heard in other Jimi recordings. You can see it when you look at the tableture. He rolls the last note away. Sonically, it's beautiful, and I'm not sure I've ever heard it emulated since.
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Red house youtube
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