By Olivia Rotondo
If you visited Instagram sometime in early January, you probably saw a photo of a simple brown egg racking up millions of likes. The World Record Instagram Egg (@world_record_egg) broke Kylie Jenner’s record of 18 million likes on an Instagram post by creating a trending moment on social media. Most people thought the egg was just a meme circling the internet that would soon phase out after 24 hours. And for the most part, it did. After Kylie Jenner posted a video cracking an egg on her driveway to get back at the account for beating her record, the egg was no longer being talked about.
But what happened after this viral moment? What followed the record-breaking was actually the most important. After the initial post, four other photos of the egg were posted, each showing the egg with more and more visible cracks. The account’s sixth post was a video featuring an animation of the egg saying “Recently I’ve started to crack, the pressure of social media is getting to me. If you’re struggling too, talk to someone” with a link to the website talkingegg.info. The site leads to a single page that lists mental health resources organized by country.
It was revealed the World Record Egg account was actually created to promote a mental health campaign for the non-profit Mental Health America. The owner of the account was Chris Godfrey, a British advertising creator tasked with creating hype for a Hulu commercial for the same campaign.
The viral Instagram egg proved that a simple post without paid promotion or the frills of celebrity and influencer content could engage with 53.4 million users. While this is an amazing feat, the message of the campaign was missed. A majority of the people who engaged with the post did not follow the account, and thus missed the posts that followed which contained the actual purpose of the campaign. Although the egg was able to get the attention of millions, people who liked in the egg to break the record did not leave Instagram thinking about the importance of mental health or with resources Mental Health America has to offer.
At the end of the day, the egg worked better as a viral moment than an effective campaign about mental health. While the idea to create engagement based on a simple post was highly effective and gained celebrity attention, from a public relations perspective, the client’s message was not included every step of the way. It was a unique way to approach the campaign, but the subject of mental health was not given the attention it deserved. It seems Instagram likes only helped the egg break its record. To increase awareness for the client, the egg needed to crack when all eyes were on it.