Following an unprecedented online success, beating out Kylie Jenner for a singularly most liked post on Instagram, the infamous World Record Egg cracks and reveals an all too important message we should keep on talking about.
Taking a crack at being a memorable moment online is arguably one of the hardest things to achieve in this day and age of the internet. With an attention span that is fleeting, a social media behavior that is at best hard to please, and a by-the-second bombardment of original (!), organic (!!), and out-of-this-world (!!!) content, the pressure to get noticed and stand out, for whatever reason, is at a constant boiling point. So, when a deceptively simple and frankly, mundane Instagram broke the internet (and isn’t this a term everyone uses so loosely these days?) on January 5, the world was amused, but admittedly skeptical. At least I was.
View this post on Instagram
“Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner,” the account aptly named, @world_record_egg announced. “We got this.” Without missing a beat, the social media sphere jumped in on the effort, quickly racking up double-taps that almost immediately shattered the record of Ms. Jenner in just 24 hours. Ten days later, the mysterious egg accounted 30.5 million likes, with a current standing of a whopping 52,531,392—that’s almost three times the record of Kylie’s image of her daughter, Stormi’s fingers. And did we mention that the account, now called Egg Gang, has locked in 10 million followers in just a month? That is practically unheard of, especially in an era where just about anyone and well, anything is itching to make a dent online.
The euphoria of the novelty showed no signs of slowing down weeks thereafter, however it did wane by the standards of the internet. Questions started floating around: “Who is behind the egg?”, “What is it this supposed to be publicity for?”, “Why are we so obsessed with this?”, and the most existential of it all, “What comes next?”
View this post on Instagram
Even for the most thriving of creative, it will prove challenging to sustain such a specific premise, which was the exact same worry I had for one of my favorite shows of the moment, The Good Place. The philosophical comedy show is doing well, wrapping up its third season to critical and commercial aplomb. In the same vein, the egg had something in store for its audience beneath the shell. We just had to wait a little. As obedient online mongers, we followed suit.
On January 23, the egg started to show signs of cracking, making all of us wonder: What is the egg up to now? “The wait is over. All will be revealed this Sunday following the Super Bowl,” it said. “Watch it first, only on @hulu.” Ah, there it was, just another brand or product placement perfectly positioned for the lucrative Super Bowl. Or so we thought.
View this post on Instagram
In a commercial streamed on Hulu, the egg was given a caricature face and indecipherable sounds that was upended by loud cracks. “Hi, I’m the World_record_egg (you may have heard of me),” it politely introduced itself. “Recently, I’ve started to crack. The pressure of social media is getting to me. If you’re struggling too, talk to someone. Talk to someone. We got this.” Revealing to be a PSA on mental health and the onslaught of pressure on social media, the ad directed viewers to the website of Mental Health America, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. But more than just limiting itself to greater America, the actual website of the account, <talkingegg.info> lists mental health organizations around the world, imploring visitors to build the list together. (As of press time, a Philippine counterpart has yet to be listed.)
Adorably named Eugene, the egg stands to be a conduit for several worthy and timely causes, which its creators Chris Godfrey, an advertising creative in London along with his friends Alissa Khan-Whelan and C.J. Brown were intent on doing from the get-go. “The amazing thing is that they weren’t doing it for money,” he said. “From our first conversation, it was really clear this was not a marketing stunt or an ad for Hulu,” says Nick Tran, Vice President of Brand Marketing and Culture of Hulu in an interview with Adweek. “People have fallen in love with this egg, and Eugene the egg wants to continue to spread positive messages,” confirms Khan-Whelan to the New York Times. “We felt that the time was right to come out.”
Far from being a stunt, this was clearly an endeavor to not just spark but sustain the conversation on things that truly matters—and it makes perfect sense, too. “An egg has no gender, race or religion. An egg is an egg, it’s universal,” explains Godfrey about the origins of the egg. Initially imagined to be “a comment on celebrity culture and how fragile and easily cracked it is, pun intended,” he wrote in early anonymity, it has rolled over beyond the superficial and competitive, making a stride for what is truly essential.
A lesson in looking beyond the outer shell and harboring early judgments, this phenomenon has accorded us to examine ourselves and our choices, allowing the rest of the social media-driven plane to take a step back and assess their personal situations and those within their immediate reach. Comments ranging from pointing out its sheer brilliance to eventually enacting a sense of kumbaya-like community spirit from everyone reached by the post in varying degrees and platforms, this was a clear realization of doing good with what can be described as a deplorable, decaying landscape. And nothing speaks truer and harder than the discussion of mental health, one that is closely gnawing at the voice and spirit of the world on an exponential level online.
While the rest of the lifeline of Eugene the Egg seems to be unclear at this point, it has already stirred our consciousness in the best way possible. Now, the discourse is going full steam ahead, as it very well should. With a future unknown, we truly hope that this effort becomes a precedent for the rest of the world to use social media and the internet for a greater good, and not just spew an obscene amount of hate that we really do not need any more of. So, for whatever it is worth, thank you, Eugene the Egg, and we cannot wait for what is next for you and your cause. Keep on rolling for the Egg Gang, you got this. (Sorry, I just had to. Besides, you were thinking it.)