An egg is the most popular synthetic influencer ever.

World Record Egg, the world record holder for most liked Instagram post, accomplished what every Instagram star aims for – Huge exposure and a massive brand deal.

And I still don’t understand it.

Here are the top wins and losses from the Hulu Egg Campaign.

Wins:

  • The egg has unlocked synthetic influencers for the masses. The 10 million followers of @world_record_egg may not be able to put the name ‘synthetic influencer’ to it, but these fans deeply engaged with an entity of completely digital origins.
  • The team behind the Egg built a 10+m strong audience, tested and validated a concept and then sold the audience / concept combination to a major Streamer. That’s impressive and breaks ground. Others will be following this path.
  • Hulu got their money’s worth in both exposure on the Egg account and in earned media. By engaging with the Egg, and getting a mention on the main channel (sans #ad!), Hulu eared a lot of exposure.
  • The Egg team timed their campaign perfectly. They built massive hype around their stunt account, sold the concept to Hulu, and executed a campaign in time for the Super Bowl. They did all of this in one month. That is no small feat.

Losses:

Number of Likes for each post on the World Record Egg account
  • Hulu’s Instagram tease made it seem like this promotion was going to be for a 90s nostalgic throwback show, like a reboot of Saved by the Bell. At 8pm on Super Bowl Sunday the big reveal occurred, and it was the Egg talking about mental health. That was a jolting nonsequitar.
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  • Using the huge Egg platform to raise awareness about mental health is a noble cause. From a strategic marketing perspective, however, it made no sense. If the goal of the Egg and Hulu partnership was to have an important public conversation, why would they have a ‘Pen15 club’ post teasing the partnership on Instagram? You don’t prompt your audience to think cute 90s, then give them a suicide notice. It’s the wrong context.
  • Compare the Egg campaign, which is in a way a public art piece, to a song like Logic’s 1-800-273-8255. Both have large audiences, both have an important message, but Logic did it within a context where people were receptive to the message. 1-800-273-8255 has 320 million views on YouTube, is a real artistic expression and its title is a literal call to action. It makes the Hulu campaign seem inappropriate and tone-deaf.
  • Prior to the reveal, super fans of the Egg, known as the #EggGang, were already upset that the Egg sold out. “You ruined the egg” is a rampant comment in the Hulu post. This is something future synthetic influencer campaigns should keep in mind. Finding the right partner to promote the right message is marketing 101. For an irreverent and large account like the Egg, the only uniting factor is the account itself. What do you do, besides sell merch?
  • Once the novelty wears out, there isn’t much left. You can see that when looking at Instagram likes per post on the world_record_egg account over time. Future synthetic influencers will need to drive value without hoping for earned media, because the level of coverage the Egg received will not be matched again for a long time.

New concepts often have an early break out hit prior to sinking back to relative obscurity. Remember when bitcoin hit $19k? I’d be surprised if we see another synthetic influencer get this big again anytime soon.

Synthetic influencers are here to stay, however. There will be more break out hits and then they will become ubiquitous. It will be some time before another one gains the national media attention World Record Egg did, however. That gives creators more time to perfect their craft, and ensures the next one will be far more compelling than an egg.