CollegeHumor Perfects the Art of Newsjacking With a Social Media Campaign

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We recently discussed the right and wrong way to handle newsjacking and use it to bring awareness and engagement to your brand. If you’re looking for a real brand using it and using it well, you’re in luck. CollegeHumor and a stuffed banana with dreadlocks are now newsjacking all-stars. Here’s the story.

A man named Henry Gribbohm recently made unfortunate headlines after losing his life savings ($2,600) in an attempt to win an X-box Kinect at a carnival. Instead of winning the X-box, he only went home with a giant stuffed banana. Although Gribbohm’s misfortunate led to lots of snarky comments from newsreaders, the popular humor site CollegeHumor has stepped forward with a great social media campaign to help Gribbohm out. They created a post on their site, saying that they wanted to help Gribbohm and also take his banana off his hands. They challenged the site’s visitors to ‘like’ the post, saying that for every ‘like’ they receive, they would put 10 cents towards helping Gribbohm get back his $2,600. If they reached 26,000 likes, they would pay Gribbohm $2,600 in exchange for his banana to make up for his loss. If they reached 30,000 likes, they would pay the $2,600 for the banana and buy Gribbohm an X-box Kinect for his kids. In just two days, the post had reached 35,000 likes, ensuring a Kinect and cash for Gribbohm and a giant stuffed banana for the CollegeHumor team.

Why is this a great newsjack?

CollegeHumor’s audience was quick and eager to respond.

CollegeHumor’s daily video releases include original videos, animated shorts and even Batman parodies, which means that their audience is constantly tuned in to their latest offerings. They’ve built such a strong relationship with their audience, that when they ask them for favors or requests, the audience is ready to give back.

It combines humor and heart.

The CollegeHumor team is obviously a funny bunch, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to do a campaign that was missing that essential element of their brand personality. Instead of making fun of Gribbohm, they sympathized with his situation and found humor, instead, in his consolation prize. Instead of presenting it just as charity, they’re turning it into a transaction for that crazy consolation prize, and tossing humor in by making it clear that they want it so badly. They’re doing a good deed, but because it’s presented in such a good-humored way, it doesn’t seem out of place.

It can ultimately help broaden CollegeHumor’s brand awareness.

Although it’s done out of goodwill, the site’s efforts will most likely result in bringing greater awareness and recognition to the brand. The initial story of Gribbohm’s life savings loss went viral and was covered by blogs, sites and news outlets alike, from The Huffington Post to the Daily Mail. The fact that a humor site is willing to step in and help remedy his unfortunate situation is just as newsworthy, and on the second day of the campaign, at least one news outlet was already reporting about it. This campaign could help broaden CollegeHumor’s audience and fan list, perhaps opening up additional opportunities for the writers/performers themselves.

Looking for more social tips and tricks? Check out our social media marketing guides.