Meet the Creator of the Egg That Broke Instagram

When Chris Godfrey realized in early January that the report for “likes” on an Instagram publish was held by the superstar and businesswoman Kylie Jenner, he took it as a problem. He remembers considering: “Could one thing as common and easy as an egg be nice sufficient to beat that report?”

It might! Just 9 days after the thought, that report was cracked. Mr. Godfrey had crushed Ms. Jenner’s publish about her toddler daughter with a easy image of an egg. The authentic egg publish now has greater than 52 million likes — her publish is shy of 19 million — and the egg’s account now has greater than 10 million followers.

Why an egg? Mr. Godfrey defined: “An egg has no gender, race or religion. An egg is an egg, it’s universal.”

Mr. Godfrey, a 29-year-old promoting inventive who works at the & Partnership in London, and the two associates he has enlisted to assist him with the account have now delivered their second act. It is a business produced with and aired on the streaming service Hulu, timed to take benefit of the annual Super Bowl advert extravaganza. In it, the egg shares a narrative about how going viral has affected its psychological well being.

The egg’s audience was also amplified by Mr. Godfrey’s decision to incorporate user-generated content into the account’s Instagram stories, where posts expire after 24 hours. The egg’s main Instagram feed stayed spare and mysterious, while Mr. Godfrey shouted out followers in its stories, helping to infect his growing audience with a sense of team spirit. (The hashtag #EggGang was quickly adapted to describe the account’s fans.)

“In its infancy, it was one of those ridiculous things, like, ‘Oh, we’re trying to break this world record by just liking this random image,’” said Sam Shepherd, an executive creative director at the digital agency 360i.

That agency won industry praise in 2013 when it worked with Oreo to quickly tweet “You can still dunk in the dark” during an unexpected blackout at the Super Bowl. Mr. Shepherd described the egg’s next act as the 2019 version of that stunt.

The team behind the egg declined to talk about the money it has been offered or the big names it has come into contact with, preferring to keep the attention focused on Eugene. (Asked about one marketer’s claim that partnering with the account would be worth at least $10 million, Ms. Khan-Whelan said only that the number was “greatly exaggerated.”)

It is true, though, that building an entity — really, a platform on a platform — that reaches millions of people brings financial benefit. The egg team is being paid by Hulu. It said that Nick Tran, Hulu’s vice president of brand marketing and culture, pursued the opportunity, and that he was introduced to them though The Times, a new agency in Chicago created by the Instagram enthusiast Jason Peterson. It would not disclose what it was paid.

“Dollars always follow eyeballs,” said Andrew Essex, chief executive and founder of Plan A, a creative holding company. For the creators, the account’s success was “basically a license to print money,” he said.

Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Brown and Ms. Khan-Whelan say they are less interested in money than in promoting positivity.

“We’ve had plenty of amazing offers and opportunities that have come on to the table,” Ms. Khan-Whelan said. “So many. We’ve not really been sharing details because we don’t think this is about us. This is about Eugene the egg and what the egg can do.”

Mr. Godfrey would not comment on what the last few weeks had been like, other than to say it had been “crazy” and “a real journey.” (He, Mr. Brown and Ms. Khan-Whelan have essentially been living together, in South East London, for that time.)

“It’s not really about me,” he insisted. “It’s just about the egg and sort of where we can take it and what we can do with it.”

They would not comment on the causes they will support beyond mental health, saying that they would take each day as it comes. They plan to remain highly responsive to their audience.

“The fact that they were able to get a lot of people to look at a picture of the egg — it was the ultimate anomaly, just a complete freak event,” Mr. Essex said. “A tear in the time-space continuum. It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s not going to continue. Every once in a while something comes out of the blue and breaks the internet for no reason. This is the quintessential fluke. It’s not replicable. It’s not replicable and it’s not sustainable. With all due respect.”

(Asked to whom the respect was due, he clarified: “To the egg people.”)

The egg people are not dissuaded. They have heard from fans in Azerbaijan and Dubai. They are particularly popular in the United States, which is one of the reasons they decided to do a Super Bowl ad.

“It’s a dream to put that in the same sentence that we’re doing something in relation to the Super Bowl — it feels really special,” Ms. Khan-Whelan said. “Michael Jackson performed at halftime, and now Eugene is center stage.”

Mr. Godfrey said the team sees the Super Bowl as more than just an American event but rather as “an international moment.”

“Eugene is global, Eugene is really global all over the world,” Ms. Khan-Whelan said. “He likes football. Or she, sorry. Or it.”

Asked to respond to Mr. Essex, Mr. Godfrey did agree that the egg’s success had been a fluke.

“But it’s a fluke that caught the world’s attention,” he said. “It’s what you do with that attention that counts.”

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