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February 2015

California DMV creates YouTube video series

In an effort to educate California citizens about how to complete various DMV tasks easily and efficiently, the California Department of Motor Vehicles created and launched its DMV Answerman video series on YouTube in 2012. The series has really taken off, with six published videos collectively achieving over 85,000 views by the end of 2014.

“A lot of the time the DMV is very overwhelming for people, so we had an idea to create some YouTube videos to relay information in a fun and entertaining way,” says Jessica Gonzalez, public information officer at the California DMV.

The videos provide answers to some of the most common DMV questions. To date, the California DMV has published six videos, and three more are in the works. The topics are:


Fortunately, the California DMV has the tools to create, shoot and edit the videos in-house. They hired an actor to play a quirky and goofy Answerman, hit the streets of Sacramento to get real people to ask him questions, and then went back to the DMV’s TV studio to edit the footage into a segment.

According to Gonzalez, the toughest part of the project happened at the beginning.

“I think the biggest challenge, especially when dealing with state agencies, is that you need to get the facts right in order to get the buy-in and approval of your organization,” she says. “Outside of our Public Affairs department, people didn’t understand what a script was and kept getting hung up on the creative aspect of the videos. What you should do is present the facts first, get the people in your organization to approve, and then you can write the script and work internally.” 

The California DMV saw so much success with DMV Answerman that it began a Spanish language video series in October 2014 called El Sabelotodo Del DMV (DMV’s Mr. Know It All). “The main character isn’t quite as quirky as Answerman—he’s more of a sophisticated and worldly character—but it’s the same idea in terms of relaying information to the customer,” Gonzalez says.

Gonzalez also notes that the project has exceeded the DMV’s expectations. “We weren’t really sure what was going to happen when we put it on YouTube, but it has been received really well,” she says. “It’s definitely been a great experience.”