Spreadable Media Blog 6 – Artefact 3 idea

I must say, it has taken a good mulling over to finally decide go ahead with this one…..

For my 3rd artefact I will be producing an eyebrow dance. Here’s one that was made earlier by someone else:

“Girl with a funny talent” has become a hit on a massive scale, clocking up over 50,675,300 views at the time of writing. Why? On first impression it is just a girl sat in front of her computer, moving her eyebrows to a slightly odd piece of music. Admittedly she has skills in the eyebrow department, but is that really enough to attract so many views?

Lets have a closer look to see what it is about the video that has hit home with so many people.

  1. Cadbury Eyebrows

“Girl with a funny talent” is a remix! Remember this advert for Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate?

In this creepy, but undoubtedly entertaining video, two children awaiting a school photo  eyebrow-dance to an old break dancing/skating tune by Freestyle Express called “Don’t Stop the Rock”. A closer inspection of the ad reveals eyebrow movements that are so ridiculous there is no way anyone could perform them! Most, if not all the eyebrow moves were created using Adobe After Effects or a similar video production software.

Regardless, the advert proved a big hit in the UK and further a field. The Guardian reported the commercial had been named the public’s favourite TV advert of 2009.

As a result, the video went on to inspire a whole host of people to try out the dance for themselves. No points for guessing where people uploaded their attempts…..

“Girl with a funny talent” was just one of these remix videos, using the exact same soundtrack to impressively recreate the Cadbury kids’ moves. The connection to the Cadbury video is a factor in its impressive viewing figures, appealing to the same audience.

The video however has not just captured some viewers from the Cadbury ad, it has actually exceeded it in terms of popularity. Knowyourmeme.com claims that whereas Cadbury accumulated over 4 million views in 8 months, “Girl with a funny talent”scored  over 12 million views in less than a week.

How did this happen? What else is it about this video?

2. Authenticity and Personal Connection

Perhaps the fact that “Girl with a funny talent”, AKA Sarah Ellen is a real person with nothing but a webcam and a laptop to produce her video, has contributed to her success? I would argue the simplicity of her video adds authenticity. She is really performing her eyebrow dance! Or appears to be at least, I’m not entirely convinced, but it does look more genuine than the Cadbury Kids. This ‘realness’ ultimately makes it a more impressive feat than a fake, slickly produced commercial advertising a multi-million pound company.

“Girl with a funny talent” possesses the ingredients to spread like wildfire, or “go viral”, depending on your preference of description. It meets suggestions for creating a viral video outlined by Darryl McCulloch [3],  in that it “comes from a focused place of creating authentic and engaging visual content that gets people so excited that they share.” Although I am not blown over by the video (being a fellow eyebrow mover myself I am admittedly a little impressed), there are obviously plenty of people out there who have been filled with a sense of wonder by the fact that someone can have that level of control over their eyebrows. In their amazement and disbelief they have felt compelled to share it with other people they believe will feel as excited and perplexed as them. I’d say that 50,000,000 + YouTube views provides legitimate proof that eyebrow dancing was an authentic and engaging subject to pursue.

It could be argued that talent, authenticity and originality are not the only draws. The Daily Mail article reporting on this “YouTube Sensation” provides some support for this theory. The author refers to her as a “cute girl”. Reader comments include:

“What a beautiful girl! She’s gonna be a stunner when she grows up.” and

“I don’t think its her eyebrows people are enjoying, its her stunning natural beauty. The modeling agency will be calling any second.”

Comments in praise of her looks came from both males and females. The relatively large amount of such comments indicates that appearance has had a part to play in the success of the video.

Michael Wesch during his presentation: An anthropological introduction to YouTube, emphasises that the web is about linking people – “people sharing, trading and collaborating”. In creating this remix, Ellen has shared her skills whilst paying homage to previous work. Her participation has lead to much appreciation and communication from people across the globe.

Prompted by peoples comments, Ellen released a follow up video in order to answer questions regarding her age, location, ethnicity, as well as win over doubters. This is evidence of permeability (the subject of a previous blog of mine). She has created a dialogue with her audience which can only help her retain attention for this video and any subsequent work she uploads.

My Attempt

In the next few blogs I will describe the processes involved in producing my own eyebrow dance video. For now I will study the marketing methods employed by both the Cadbury video and Ellen’s in an attempt to achieve a comparable level of spreadability.

As I said at the start of this blog, it has taken me a while to talk myself round to actually doing this. I suppose I have reservations over who will be seeing it and how it will be perceived. I will be coming up with some ideas over how to shield my identity somewhat, however there may be no point in doing so as people will probably be able to trace it back to me via the blog anyway!


[1] Anon, (n.d.). “Girl With a Funny Talent” on knowyourmeme website

[2] Anon, (n.d.). “The girl with the dancing eyebrows: YouTube sensation demonstrates awkward talent of making her eyebrows wave and wriggle in tempo“on Daily Mail website

[3] Smith, M. “Going Viral—How to (Tastefully) Get Them to Spread Your Message” on Council of Public Relation Firms website

[4] Smithers, R. (2009) “Cadbury’s ‘Eyebrows’ tops website’s chart of most-watched TV ads” on Guardian website.

[5] Wesch, M. “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” on Mediated Cultures website.

This entry was posted in Everything is a remix, retechsocial, Spreadable media and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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