A Texas mother who treated herself with a “talking” Chewbacca mask from Kohl’s delighted the internet this past weekend and gave the department store—and other retailers stocking the mask—quite a branding lift.
Candace Payne uploaded her video, tagged “Oh I’m such a happy Chewbacca!,” Friday. By Monday it had become the most watched Facebook Live video in history, with 140 million views and counting.
Since the video upload, digital content engagement around Kohl’s increased by 101% compared to the previous week, according to digital marketing technology company Amobee. The retailer then posted its own video where it presented Payne and her family with a load of Star Wars merchandise and Kohl’s gift cards, a move that lifted digital content engagement by another 187%, according to Amobee.
Candace Payne’s viral video ticked all the boxes of an extremely effective viral branding campaign—she was relatable, she mentioned (and appreciated) Kohl’s, and, above all, it was spontaneous and authentic. Payne’s delight in treating herself to the small birthday gift is infectious.
By Monday she was on television and had a spokesperson, but when she made the video she was a busy mother who reserved a small chunk of her day and her funds for herself for a change.
Kohl’s, in perhaps an obvious move, capitalized on Payne’s spontaneous shout-out by presenting her and her family with Star Wars swag and gift cards, captured on video.
That, according to Amobee, only added to the video’s viral branding lift. The whole shebang has not only helped give Kohl’s some positive attention, but also other retailers (Amazon, Wal-Mart) selling the Chewbacca mask and Star Wars merchandise in general.
But, at its core, that lift could not have been planned: by far the most valuable aspect of the phenomenon was that Payne’s motivation to share her delight in the Chewbacca mask was thoroughly real, unprompted, and unaffected.
“People can appreciate artistic images coming from brands, especially on Instagram,” Toni Box, senior director of social media and content at PM Digital, told Retail Dive. “But they definitely appreciate real-time imagery over the staged images that can be stodgy. There's something about that off-the-cuff imagery—it’s authentic, and that’s becoming more important.”