Formats Unpacked: Hot Ones (Archive)

How a format gets the world's biggest stars to eat hot chicken wings and answer even hotter questions?

Hi all,

To mark Formats Unpacked being four years old, today we’re bringing you something from the archive which newer subscribers may have missed. It’s a format that has grown a lot since it was first introduced to me by our guest unpacker, Chris Unitt.

But before Chris’ unpacking I have to deliver an important note:

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OK. Back to the unpacking. Chris writes the brilliant Cultural Digital newsletter, which is a must read for anyone interested in how cultural organisations show their work online. He’s also the founder of research and analytics consultancy One Further.

Over to Chris

What’s it called?

Hot Ones (YouTube series)

What’s the format?

Hot Ones is the show "with hot questions, and even hotter wings.” It’s a YouTube series where celebrities answer questions while eating chicken wings smothered with hotter and hotter sauces.

What’s the magic that makes it special?

The special magic ingredient - the spice in the sauce, if you will - is the way that each 20+ minute interview is guaranteed to become more compelling as it goes along. How many interview shows can you say that about?

The questions posed by the host, Sean Evans, are well researched softballs. The guests would all be having a comfortable enough time if they weren’t having to endure increasing levels of physical pain.

Army training prepares you for this sort of thing, media training not so much. By the time you reach Da Bomb - the scorching hot and apparently not-even-that-tasty 8th sauce - it's hard not to let your personality show through.

Will the guest tear into the wings with reckless abandon, or nibble them timidly? Tough it out, or sweat and swear profusely? Persevere or make excuses and quit? That’s the joy of it.

There are plenty of gimmicky celebrity interview series on YouTube right now. They’ve displaced the churned-out press junket interview in a world where, audiences are built on share-ability and you’ve got to be remarkable to stand out. I reckon Hot Ones has perfected the formula.

Favourite Episode

Similar formats?

Thanks again to Chris who wrote this almost 4 years ago. If you’d like to unpack a favourite format get in touch.

When I started Formats Unpacked the goal was to run it for a year. I’m delighted it’s lasted this long. In that time we’ve built an impressive archive of case studies that people find incredibly useful. It’s become a fantastic resource for us to use whilst developing formats for clients. Having an archive mindset is something we talk to clients about a lot.

Finally, if you’re in the content business but you aren’t getting the results you hoped for then speak to us about our Content Audit. It’s an incredibly useful way to identify where things are going wrong and how you might fix it. Just hit that button below.

Thanks for reading. See you all next time,Hugh

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