Casey Neistat — vlogger, filmmaker and founder of technology company, beme went viral last week with a video titled “The $21,000 first class airplane seat”. Emirates’ agile and reactive thinking, gained millions of free press and exposure — simply by upgrading his seat.

The video currently has over 20M views — just 200,000 views away from making it his most popular video to date.

Noticing his booking, Emirates were quick to upgrade his seat for his flight back to the big apple— hoping for some airtime on his daily vlog. Instead, Casey focused the entire episode (the flight was 14 hours long after-all) on documenting this over-the-top eccentric flight. Not bad considering GQ compares his influence with the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Jimmy Fallon (he’s also their ‘media star of the year 2016').

Stating the video was not paid for by Emirates at the beginning of the video, he captured every moment. From the ‘writing kit’ to the personal mini-bar, the media hub to the in-flight shower spa (complete with miniature shower gels of course), Casey gave an insight into the lavish lifestyle of travelling first class with Emirates.

And here’s why it resonated so well with his audience…

Despite having a young demographic watching his videos (not the typical audience for Emirates), Casey is a technology startup founder. He inspires his audience on a daily basis to setup their own businesses and chase their dreams. Casey’s global audience are the next Zuckerberg’s and Musk’s in this world. Native to technology. Hungry to achieve and thrive — just like him.

Just like Casey, Emirates marketing team are probably still on a high from the whole experience. A smart marketing decision for a free upgrade, had their brand featured in articles on GQ, Maxim, Adweek, Mashable and the Huffington Post. Generating millions of views and thousands of shares.

It didn’t stop there, It created a trend.

Casey tweeted his gratitude towards Emirates for his upgrade, highlighting the fact it was in no way sponsored. The tweet received over 10,000 likes and almost a thousands retweets.

Noticing the hype, brands and publishers joined in on the buzz. Companies like Bose tweeted back, complimenting the way he travels.

Two days later (since the video’s release), a package arrives from Gillette to his NY based office. A care package of their latest products, equipped with a hand written note signed “your guy @ Gillette”.

This reactive responsive from brands to hop on trends (when done authentically) can be hugely powerful. Not only did Emirates raise awareness with a new demographic and receive lots of free PR, they positioned their brand as forward-thinking and digital-first.

Influence marketing is expensive. This somewhat unregulated industry is costly, but can provide genuine engagement to a targeted demographic. It’s received some flak lately, but when done correctly, the authenticity of the videos that influencers produce, can be hugely beneficial.

But what sets this aside is that for Emirates this brand awareness piece was essentially free. The cost to upgrade Casey’s seat was minimal. Their ability to react to a situation and create a trend was faultless. With zero marketing spent, they enabled the creation of a genuinely interesting and compelling video. All about them.

Well done Emirates.