In 2009 Rasmus Albrechtsen began offering men’s hairstyling tutorials on YouTube. He called his channel “Slikhaar TV,” as in “slick hair.” The channel scaled to over 2 million subscribers.
Then came YouTube’s artificial intelligence-driven browse feature, showing viewers the videos that likely interest them. Suddenly, Albrechtsen’s 2 million subscribers seemed less impactful. He’s now producing videos “for the browse feature more than for the subscribers.”
Albrecthsen is based in Denmark, where I’m vacationing. He and I recently discussed Slikhaar TV, By Vilain (his line of hair products), and the impact of AI on video marketing.
The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: What do you do?
Rasmus Vilain Albrechtsen: I co-founded two businesses with my twin brother, Emil. We have Slikhaar TV, which is a YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers offering men’s hairstyling tutorials and advice. We launched it in 2009.
Then we have By Vilain, where we develop and sell hair products for men, such as waxes, pre-stylers, shampoos, and accessories.
Having a brother as a business partner is nice, although it has challenges. We are identical twins, but we have different personalities. I’m more into the creative, vision space. Emil is more into executing and operations. He’s also our CEO. We complement each other pretty well.
Bandholz: Organic YouTube views can be hard to come by.
Albrechtsen: It has been turbulent on YouTube. We can thank the browse feature for the turbulence. It’s getting smarter, using artificial intelligence to help viewers discover their unique interests.
We have 2 million subscribers, but we don’t have 2 million viewers. We have 2 million people who, once in 14 years, chose to push the subscribe button. Their lives may be different now.
So we’re trying to produce videos around trends for the browse feature more than for the subscribers.
Bandholz: Similar to the TikTok model, right? The number of subscribers doesn’t affect how a video performs.
Albrechtsen: Yes. TikTok is extreme in some ways because viewers will forget you tomorrow if you’re not feeding into the trends. If you personalize content and build yourself as someone that folks want to get more of, they will remember you and return to your channel because you moved them in some way.
To stand out, it’s basically a brainwashing process. You entertain them, but they don’t remember you. To be memorable, you keep at it.
I had an experience in my fitness center. A guy approached me and said, “Are you that dude that always pops up in my feed?” It’s super interesting when individuals notice you because you must have left an imprint in some way.
So the challenge is producing memorable content so viewers can find you. Folks may browse 100 videos an hour, 10 to 20 seconds each. If your content makes an imprint, you can use it in an ad later on.
Then, if they watched your content a couple of times in the browse feature, they could respond to a commercial with your product. They don’t know where they saw it, but they know it’s tied to good content, so they trust it more.
Bandholz: Have you done endorsement deals with celebrities?
Albrechtsen: We have a few endorsements. But if the question is, “Have we paid for endorsements?” the answer is not directly. They happen through informal networks — some football (soccer) players, a few celebrities — but it’s not on formal contracts. It’s usually folks who use our products. So it’s not a typical endorsement where you pay Cristiano Ronaldo a couple of million dollars, and he’ll mention you, and you can use his name in the marketing of the product.
A celebrity endorsement could be a good strategy, but we are not pursuing it because of the price point. We would probably pay around 80,000 U.S. dollars for a year’s contract with a high-end celebrity.
I’d rather stick with guys who consistently create expert content within a specific niche and provide value in a specific area — not just entertaining by showing luxurious lifestyles.
Bandholz: Where can listeners follow you?