I made this: Chris Godfrey and Eugene the Instagram egg

How a simple picture of an egg went viral and boosted mental-health awareness to boot

I made this: Chris Godfrey and Eugene the Instagram egg

I’d be lying if I said I had this all planned from day one. Having read an article about the 20 most-liked Instagram posts of 2018, I wondered whether something as simple as an egg could be great enough to dethrone someone as powerful  and influential as Kylie Jenner. It was a challenge I wanted to take on.

After four days, we hit 10,000 likes – and I worked out that at the current rate it might be possible within the year. It then just took off, reaching one million a few days later and adding 17 million likes over the following 48 hours before successfully beating the world record around 1am on Monday 14 January.

During the initial challenge, I received countless emails. Some were about how the egg gave them hope – "If an egg can get this many likes, imagine what I can do" – while others questioned: "How can an egg get more likes than me?"

A lot of the egg’s audience have grown up with social media, not knowing any different. It’s therefore sometimes difficult to recognise how social media can impact wellbeing and mental health. Social media is an amazing tool that has the power to bring the world together. But its effects on mental health are sadly more and more entwined, whether it’s FOMO or something greater. So with the world’s attention and millions of followers, we decided to use the platform to raise awareness of this.

This was never about me – it was everyone coming together that made it into what it is. I felt revealing myself too soon would take the spotlight from the egg and its message, so I tried to keep a low profile for as long as possible. It was a bit of an open secret in the industry – I’m surprised I managed to stay anonymous as long as I did.

I won’t be discussing the money involved – but after talking to a lot of brands and agencies we decided to produce something ourselves, which became the "Cracking" campaign. We had developed a good relationship with Hulu since it first got in touch. The company was amazingly collaborative when we reached out to put our content on its platform.

It was all organic. I believe its main reason for success was the user-generated content created. It all began by asking the followers to give the egg a face ("Eugene") and then repost it on their stories, which helped spread the idea to their following. Of these, I reposted my favourites on the egg’s story, which created more buzz as users wanted to get featured.

There’s no blueprint or formula to going viral, and that’s why some may brand it a fluke. But from that fluke we created a community and a platform. And then used that opportunity to promote something worthwhile. If it serves a purpose and a reason to come together, anything can become influential. Even an egg.

Chris Godfrey is a creative (formerly at The & Partnership)