Thursday, May 26, 2016

The guffaw that broke the Internet

candace payne chewbacca mask

When Candace Payne, a Texan mom of two, slipped on a Chewbacca mask to record her bemusement on Facebook, little did she know that she was on her way to Internet stardom. Candace Payne’s love for the infamous Star Wars Wookie is rivaled by millions, but what was it about her video that got her freebies from corporations and invitations from movie studios, talk shows, and even Mark Zuckerberg?

With so much negativity and fear mongering peddled around the Internet--from climate change and violence to racism and terror attacks--along comes a happy-go-lucky woman who makes a video with her laughing hysterically wearing a Chewbacca mask. While I didn’t find Payne’s video side-splittingly hilarious, her infectious smile and childlike love for the mask made me chuckle. I could see why she had gone viral; her goofy personality and joie de vivre was something that the Internet needed. Her video made us believe that “it’s the simple joys in life” that mattered.

Nothing could be a more effective advertisement for a brand than a bellyful of laughter. But Payne’s video wasn’t a sponsored video, nor did she pay lip service to Star Wars or Kohl’s (which she only mentioned in passing as the store from where she bought the mask) or even Facebook’s Live Video feature. Candace Payne used a Chewbacca mask to talk about how we need to find reasons to laugh in the littlest of things. It was a fortune-cookie lesson on life that Facebook turned into a subtle promotion for their video feature; while for Star Wars and Kohl’s it was a free advertisement for their brand.

Given the short shelf life of an Internet sensation, the three giant corporations cashed in on the video’s popularity. Candace Payne, the content creator, was regaled by celebrities and corporations alike. She went on a car ride with J.J Abrams; met Peter Mayhew, the original Chewbacca; hung out with Mark Zuckerberg; and was thanked for only mentioning Kohl’s with even more goodies and shopping coupons.

She now has a verified tick on Facebook and might become an influencer who will be wooed by several brands, or may be like many Internet trends she will be forgotten by the end of the month. Nevertheless, her sudden fame is proof that digital media helps a brand’s popularity best when it is used by a gleeful consumer. Digital marketing strategists may come up with contests, posters or hashtags to trend a brand, but a simple video or a tweet from a satisfied customer will improve your brand’s image more than a celebrity endorsement.

Image source: http://bit.ly/27USdXk

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