Peter Atencio

Driving School: Director Peter Atencio on Pepsi’s Wildly Popular Jeff Gordon Video

Pepsi stormed YouTube last week with one of the year's most popular videos: a clip featuring Jeff Gordon, in disguise, taking a car salesman on the most frightening test drive of his life. The video is quickly closing in on 30 million views, and got almost 10 million in a single day, last Friday, according to data from Unruly Media. The spot has also taken some heat, though, for perhaps not being quite as real as it seems. (Not that viewers seem to mind. The clip has almost 100,000 likes, some 25 times the number of dislikes.) Adweek spoke with the video's director, Gifted Youth's Peter Atencio, perhaps best known for directing and producing every episode of Comedy Central's Key & Peele. Atencio spoke about the video's enormous success, the controversy around it, and what it is about prank videos that he loves so much.We're up to almost 30 million views on this thing. Did you have any idea it would be this popular? Not to this level, no. We felt when we were working on it that it was going to do pretty well, just from the reaction people were having when we showed it to friends. They seemed to really love it, and were asking a lot of questions about it.Why do you think people love it so much? Well, I think people just like to watch other people go through a harrowing experience, when it's from the comfort of their own computer. And it all works out OK—the salesman is laughing and happy in the end, which I think makes people feel more comfortable sharing it. If he had stayed really angry at the end, I don't think people would feel as good about it.