Looking at The Sunny Side of Things: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of @World_Record_Egg

When @world_record_egg dethroned Kylie Jenner as the account holder with the most-liked Instagram post, fans anxiously awaited to find out who was behind the account.

Over the course of one suspenseful month, the account posted photos of the egg slowly cracking, and everyone — ourselves included — wondered what would be revealed when the egg finally broke open.

Would it be a celebrity, a political endorsement, or a massive ad campaign?

As it turned out, it was Eugene, the egg, delivering a message of hope.

“Recently I’ve started to crack,” Eugene said. “The pressure of social media is getting to me. If you’re struggling too, talk to someone. We got this.”

The long-awaited video ends with an invitation to visit talkingegg.info, leading users to Talking Egg Foundation, a global initiative to eradicate mental health stigma by raising funds to support the foundation’s partners, including Mental Health America and Crisis Text Line.

Who's behind @world_record_egg?

Following the month-long build-up, the account’s creators were revealed to be three advertising creatives: Chris Godfrey, CJ Brown, and Alissa Khan-Whelan, who said it really did start as just a challenge to get the most-liked photo on Instagram.

But why an egg? It has “no gender, race, or religion,” Godfrey told the New York Times.

From the account’s inception, the account exploded in popularity — all organically — and it took just nine days to break the world record.

People around the world got behind the egg’s objective quickly, and it went viral. It was just so random and simple — using a stock photo of an egg to break a world record — and in many ways it was the absurdity of the challenge that united people in their support.

The choice to use the platform for good

The trio didn’t launch the social media challenge to start a mental health initiative but saw an opportunity to do good and ran with it.

In an interview with Good Good Good, Khan-Whelan, who is co-founder and director of Happy Yolk, the umbrella company overseeing the Instagram account and foundation, said, “I would love to tell you we had a big, grand plan.”

They decided to align with a cause near and dear to them. The account’s three creators all worked in advertising and public relations, and they were struggling to connect any lasting impact to their work. Khan-Whelan said they all agreed they needed “something more” in their lives, something to work on that felt “more purposeful.”

“A lot of people were waiting for us to sell out,” Khan-Whelan said. “We had lots of different brands come to us to monetize the egg, but nothing felt right.”

After initially declining a partnership with Hulu, the Happy Yolk team ended up pitching the idea to animate the egg into a character and spread a message of mental health awareness, and the PSA premiered exclusively on Hulu after the 2019 Super Bowl.

The account’s followers were inspired that the team didn’t “sell out” by partnering with advertisers to turn a massive profit off the now-legendary post’s success. The team knew they were onto something big and quit their jobs to focus their efforts on Happy Yolk, which now also leads digital marketing campaigns for some of the world’s most recognized brands.

“[The egg campaign] gave a lot of people this feeling of hope,” Khan-Whelan said. “It seemed to connect with a lot of people.”

Now more than a year later, Happy Yolk is expanding their mission to create what Khan-Whelan calls a “positive corner of the internet.” They launched a positive news Instagram account, @sunny_side_news, and will soon announce a YouTube channel featuring Eugene in short entertaining videos that offer a mental health takeaway. The YouTube channel will be a “deep dive into Eugene as a character,” Khan-Whelan said.

“We’re in a very hyper-connected world,” Khan-Whelan said. “Social media fatigue can cause quite a heavy weight on your mind. [With our positive news account and YouTube channel], we want to make the internet feel like an easier place to be. If there’s any opportunity to bring light to the darkness, we should.”

A version of this story originally ran in The Unconventional Activism Edition of the Goodnewspaper in May 2020. The Goodnewspaper is our monthly print newspaper filled with good news.
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August 30, 2021

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