YouTube's 'Bowiechick' and the spiders from marketing

After pumping up Webcam sales, cult figure receives gift offer from camera's maker, Logitech. Others offer cash for endorsements.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
3 min read
"Bowiechick" is no sellout.

At least not yet. The 17-year-old creator of the video "Breakup," uploaded to YouTube.com last month and viewed more than 300,000 times over the past two weeks, helped introduce Logitech Web cameras to scores of young people.

But despite rumors to the contrary, Bowiechick's endorsement came without any prompting from the company, according to both Bowiechick and Nancy Morrison, a company spokeswoman.

The two women spoke to each other for the first time last week. To show the company's appreciation for the free publicity, Morrison offered the teenager any Logitech product she wanted as a gift. Bowiechick has yet to ask for anything, Morrison said.

Photos: Web cam effects

"(Morrison) said they really love my videos," Bowiechick--the name comes from her devotion to rocker David Bowie--wrote on her blog. "They aren't going to pay me (which I don't care about), but it's cool because she said that if I ever see something I really want from Logitech, I can just contact her. Isn't that nice?"

Teenagers and young adults are flocking to YouTube, one of the Web's fastest-growing sites. With possibly millions watching, young people are dancing in their underwear, lip-syncing to their favorite songs or just ambling around their bedrooms. The more talented or compelling personalities could be harbingers of a new kind of Web celebrity, one that eventually could hold sway with the teen demographic, marketing experts say.

Bowiechick, as she's known at the video-upload site, has become one of YouTube's most prolific hit makers and a budding cult figure, with her often witty slice-of-life approach inspiring both parodies and tributes.

Another strong suit is her mischievous use of technology. In "Breakup," for instance, Bowiechick sprinkles computer-generated graphics throughout her recollection of a painful split with her boyfriend. As the video unfolds, she uses the effects to don a cartoonlike gas mask, snorkel gear and a cat nose.

In response to questions from the YouTube community, she also produced a short how-to video that shows off the features offered by her Logitech Webcam. That clip, called "My Webcam," has been viewed nearly 200,000 times. The company's Webcams saw a short sales spike on Amazon.com directly after the videos appeared.

"I never thought anybody would watch my videos other than my friends," said Bowiechick, who's from Oregon and whose real name is Melody. (Her last name is being kept private because she's a minor.) "All of it is kind of overwhelming."

If Logitech was unwilling to pay Bowiechick, others are offering cash. In a phone interview last month, Bowiechick said that one Web site had contacted her and offered to pay her if she would mention the site in one of her videos. She declined to name the site.

So will she try to cash in on her new fame?

"I haven't decided for sure, but I don't think so," she said. "I'm not sure how I would do it if I wanted to. I never asked for all this attention. I just want to enjoy making the movies more than anything else."