What Is A Reaction Video?

3 Examples From The Fine Brothers, Coca-Cola & Valspar

[This article has been updated from when it was originally published on September 8, 2016.]

The standard definition of a "reaction video" is one where the subject is reacting emotionally to some other video they are watching. It is a common tactic some video marketers and producers will use to hijack the existing interest in a popular topic in order to get views for their own video.

The Fine Brothers' Kids React Videos

The Fine Brothers have built a following of more than 20 million subscribers to their YouTube channel that features children, teens, college kids, parents and grandparents reacting to various pop culture topics. Fine Brothers videos routinely earn millions of views, so they've kind of perfected the science of the reaction video, strictly defined. Here's an example, showing kids reacting to Lady Gaga:

But reaction videos more broadly defined are built around any type of reaction that will, in turn, prompt a reaction from viewers.

Coca-Cola's Happiness Machine

We've discussed Coca-Cola's Happiness Machine video before in the context of how a video goes viral but it is also an excellent example of a reaction video. Simply put: Dispense surprising things from a Coke machine and record consumers' reactions to it.

What makes the video is that Coke captured the delight of the students as more and more surprising things came out of that vending machine. The viewer feels that delight by proxy.

Valspar's Color For All Videos

Another excellent example of a reaction video comes from a paint company.

In March of 2015, Valspar launched its #ColorForAll campaign to highlight its work with EnChroma to develop sunglasses to help colorblind people see colors. How cool is that?

According to EnChroma, "A person with red-green color blindness sees the world differently. Their red and green photopigments have more overlap than normal, making them unable to see certain colors." You can read more about how color blindness works at EnChroma's website. Here's a video explanation of what colorblind people see compared to what the rest of us see:

With Valspar's help, EnChroma found a way to alleviate this by creating a specialized lens that filters out specific colors. Here's some early media coverage of EnChroma that helps explain the product:

But Valspar really brings EnChroma's glasses to life by coupling storytelling with an emotional punch. This is an example of the art of the reaction video. They let others do the talking by recording the stories of colorblind people and then capturing their reactions to finally seeing the world in technicolor:

The video packs an emotional punch because we've been set up by the protagonists' stories: The man who saw only shades of gray in his child's drawings, or the woman who was teased for not knowing "girlie shades." We learn their stories of experiencing a monochromatic world, so when we see their reactions to finally seeing the world in full
color, we experience their discovery, their awe and wonder vicariously.

The proof is in the numbers. The Valspar Color For The Colorblind [original] video earned 5.4 million views to date [at the time this story was originally published], and:

  • 25,300 YouTube likes
  • 23,800 YouTube shares
  • 1,500 YouTube comments
  • 5,400 links to the video
  • 324 325 embeds of the video
  • 7,100 Tweets
  • 3,200 Facebook likes
  • 1,900 reddit votes
  • 1,200 LinkedIn shares
  • 1,100 Google+ shares