4 Things We Learned Chatting to Chris Godfrey: the Creator of the Egg That Broke Instagram

We spoke to Happy Yolk's Chris Godfrey about his creative process as part of our industry series; The Inside Yak. Here are four tips he’d give to brands and creatives:

After Chris Godfrey stumbled upon an article featuring the most-liked posts of 2018, starring Kylie Jenner, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber, he took it as a challenge to go after the number one spot. He asked himself; “Could the complete opposite ever compete on that level?”

It turns out it could. Just nine days later, they beat the record. The simple image of an egg against a white background now has over 54 million likes, and that year, Chris Godfrey found himself in TIME’s roundup as one of the most influential people on the internet.

Two years later, the anthropomorphized egg, called Eugene, has its own Instagram page dedicated to ‘positivity, with a dose of realism’. Chris has since launched Happy Yolk: an integrated social, PR and design agency. They “bind people, brands and culture around ideas that spark joy and get the world talking.”

We chatted to Chris about his creative process as part of our industry series; The Inside Yak. Here are four tips he’d give to brands and creatives:

Pursue Personal Projects

When he launched The World Record Egg, Chris was working a day job in advertising. Although he was proud of the work he was creating, “it wasn’t really work that was making a difference in the long term. It didn’t change society, or it didn’t relate to people on a personal level.” Chris’ ambition was to create conversations in culture and by launching The Egg That Broke Instagram as a personal project he was able to do just that. 

“Personal projects are where the magic can really happen” Chris explained. They give you the opportunity to put something out in the world that’s entirely your own. It’s an open approach to creativity in contrast to client briefs that often impose boundaries on creativity, “You almost have these invisible walls around you.” 

“It’s important to be opportunistic because you don’t know where it will take you,” Chris explains. Following through on personal projects are also a clear indicator that you are passionate and dedicated to your craft, so they can lead to opportunities that may not have happened otherwise. 

Finally, don’t be put off by a lack of budget. The whole egg campaign cost just £120. 

 

There’s Value in Writing Things Down

Chris is a list guy; he writes everything down.

We all have thoughts and sporadic ideas jostling around in our heads. Whether it’s an idea for a project or a new skill you want to learn, what’s important is to jot it down onto whatever you have to hand. These ideas may not turn into anything or they may develop and fire up a spurt of inspiration. No matter what the idea is, write it down. “It’s not an idea until you get it out of your head and do something with it. Otherwise, it’s a thought,” Chris says.

The same goes for a brief. There’s value in writing down your initial thoughts and hit-or-miss ideas as you never know where they may take you.

Lastly, writing down your thoughts frees up space in your mind. Rather than leaving them in the back of your brain, “put it on a bit of paper…you’ve removed it, then that allows more thoughts to come in.”

Freeing our minds from niggling thoughts helps us to switch off. So, write it down, relax and your mind, subconsciously, will connect the dots. 

Stay Authentic

“There’s no blueprint for going viral.” Chris explains, “You can have the right ingredients, whether that’s shock, whether that’s what’s so culturally topical right now…but you can’t force it.”

That’s where authenticity comes in. Consumers relate to brands that are a reflection of themselves and they can spot authenticity a mile off. 

As brands are increasingly tackling prevalent and serious issues such as climate change and mental health, it’s imperative they do it authentically to avoid mere tokenism. 

“For me, it’s not about chopping and changing year and year, it’s about understanding what you’re passionate about and following through on that,” Chris said. 

Authenticity must be built into the brand’s core. Brands that are successful in this align it with their company’s missions and values. They build on that foundation as they grow and in turn, it allows for more opportunities to arise. 

“Social media users are very switched on, and that goes back down to young children; they know what fake news is, they know when brands are trying to force something.”

Having clearly in mind who your audience is will help you keep faithful to your values, because trying to build a message that appeals to everyone is unrealistic and lacks authenticity. 

The importance of staying authentic

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

While authenticity should always be at the forefront of everything a company does, don’t shy away from taking risks if it aligns with your values. 

A brand Chris admires is Tony’s Chocolonely, “I just find them absolutely brilliant.”

He talked about the chocolate company’s recent campaign called ‘A Sweet Solution to The Bitter Truth’ in which they call out the industry giants about their unjust practises. “To be a challenger brand in an industry like chocolate, which is probably dominated by one or two umbrella companies is pretty ballsy and I really rate what they did,” Chris says. 

Chris mentioned how the press has recently revealed a niggle in Tony’s Chocolonely’s own production line. Nevertheless, their mindset and mission to tackle poverty, unfairness, and exploitation in the cocoa supply chain are admirable.

“I think we should be careful to berate brands too much because, yes, everyone should be called out if they’re saying something and not doing it, but we live in a world where things take some time, so we have to allow that process to develop,” Chris explains.  

“If we don’t allow them time, then big brands and even new brands might not want to take on that challenge, for fear of being called out. It’s about finding that balance.”

Taking risks in a competitive industry is tough. But it’s important to consider the alternative; if we don’t take risks, how will we ever make a difference? How will we engender change? 

Tony’s Chocolonely is just one example of a brand putting social impact at the heart of what they do. “I think brands making a difference should be applauded.”

Similar to where Chris started with the World Record Egg, we all love a challenge.

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