Unboxing videos hit a new record and may just have gone mainstream earlier this month. We have a Texas mother who was shopping at the Kohl’s clearance rack to thank for it. A certain Wookiee and an almost forty year-old movie franchise had something to do with it, too. However this happened, Chewbacca Mom’s Facebook Live video has over 150 million views in just a couple of weeks. Go ahead, watch it again.
While Unboxing is a sub-genre of online videos (and clip is already related to Reaction videos), before Chewbacca Mom’s video (real name: Candace Payne), most of them were aimed at kids or technology enthusiasts. With this unscripted video, Payne broadened the appeal of unboxing and reaction content. Her video is powered in equal parts by her fascination with looking at herself in the mask and her infectious laugh. The key difference is that it has engaged an older demographic than usual for this kind of content.
In the days that followed, we got to watch the birth of 2016’s biggest Internet sensation so far. With an authenticity that only comes from a completely innocent act of content creation, Chewbacca Mom’s views soared to new heights experienced on Facebook Live and the brands were right there to participate in the buzz. Kohl’s, who were so prominently mentioned in the video, was quick to respond. The department store orchestrated a prompt visit to Chewbacca Mom’s house to shower the family with presents (including Chewbacca masks for the kids that Payne thought would steal her noisy toy) and gift cards that might just inspire future videos. The video of that delivery from Kohl’s already stands at over 30 million views.
The Wisconsin-based department store wasn’t the only benefactor. The toy immediately sold out at retail outlets nationwide, with other retailers enjoying store visits from eager viewers wanting to try the mask for themselves. Hasbro (who make the toy) and Star Wars as a brand benefitted immensely, too. This was pushed along by talk show host James Corden getting in on the fun, too, by inviting Payne to his show. His content featuring Payne is performing really well and clearly there is more to come. Payne is now at Disney World meeting the real Chewbacca and presumably making some videos for Disney.
What Does Chewbacca Mom Mean For Influencer Marketing
The influencer marketing lesson of Chewbacca Mom is a reminder to stick to the strategy’s core philosophy. The authenticity of the video is most of its appeal. Genuine passion for the brands at the center of the video drive both Payne’s desire to create the content as well as the appeal to customers inspired to buy the mask for themselves. The sheer joy of the video comes through because Payne is not trying to sell her viewers on the product; she is simply showing how it is a source of happiness that she can barely contain. Her concern about her ownership of the mask in her household isn’t calculated, it’s the reality of her situation. In the comments on her video, it is easy to see how these elements helped her audience connect with her video. Many viewers saw themselves in her as she worried about her sons taking away her ‘birthday present.’ The best influencers understand how this kind of connection helps build relationships with fans and subscribers.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) May 24, 2016
This is why influencer marketing is really about working with content creators who have an affinity for a brand, not just paid product placement. When influencers have a genuine passion for a product, providing them more free reign to create natural content offers the best opportunity to create a Chewbacca moment that can hit big. So compelling was the Chewbacca Mom video that it drove others to create content. Her original video inspired thousands of Reaction videos that racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Some users who reposted her video on YouTube garnered millions of views in just a few days. While some of that effort is opportunistic, the brands benefitting from this viral phenomenon gained more value as the library of related content grew.
Chewbacca Mom Could Bring More Influencer Marketing To Facebook Live
While Chewbacca Mom is almost assured of at least a short career in influencer marketing, the real winner may end up being Facebook Live. While Mark Zuckerberg expanded use of live video on the platform to all regular users earlier this year, the potential for anyone to casually create massively popular videos may have only now been truly realized. Before the Star Wars-loving lady starts a YouTube channel devoted to unboxing whatever suits her fancy, Facebook might consider chatting her up about keeping her content exclusive to their 1.4 billion-strong venue.
In fact, Facebook Live may just enable older generations to discover influencer marketing – creators and audiences alike. While Zuckerberg wants Facebook to appeal to all ages, it has become the main social network where older generations gather. While studies show that Millennials and Generation Z are more inclined to follow the suggestions of influencers, Chewbacca Mom could be the kind of momentum that ages up influencer marketing (and unboxing, in particular) in a positive way. We have already seen many short-video influencers abandoning Vine for Facebook Live and other live streaming platforms like Periscope, Snapchat and YouNow. With the promise of a wider audience and a larger demographic cross-section, Zuckerberg’s social network may have just become the ideal place for influencer marketing campaigns that exude personal authenticity.
Photo credit: Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX