There’s been a lot of bad news in the early months of 2017. From Wells Fargo fallout to firings at major aircraft and automotive manufacturers to hundreds of big box department stores closing their doors. There’s been wiretap allegations and rumors of wars and economic uncertainty. Well, there’s also been April, the giraffe.
Has there ever been a pregnant mother more watched than April? Perhaps a panda or two, but none in recent memory. April provided a cute if somewhat silly distraction for people inundated with the negative. She was a reason to smile in persona and online. Perhaps that’s why, when April finally gave birth recently, more than one million people tuned into the live feed. They also live tweeted their impressions on Twitter and posted about it on Facebook. April was officially a national concern.
fter the newborn calf emerged, it waited about 45 minutes to stand and take its first wobbly steps. In that time, the number of viewers increased to more than 1.2 million. This was the culmination of months of drama that began back in February when the privately-owned zoo that houses April announced she was expecting.
In that time, April’s fan base exploded. She now has her own website, even her own clothing line. April’s GoFundMe page set an initial goal of $25,000 … it’s now well over $125,000. The zoo will use those funds to help care for its animals. But that’s not all the value that’s been enjoyed thanks to April and her happy band of loyal fans.
More than a few astute viewers noticed one change as the baby giraffe was finally being born. The webcast, which was sponsored by Toys R Us, suddenly switched its sponsorship to a sister company, Babies R Us. People grinned about the switch, sending Toys R Us atta boys via social media.
The company gets a big, easy and likely very inexpensive win with this one. By understanding how the consumer marketplace is evolving thanks to social media, Toys R Us and, by extension its sister brand, will reap major name recognition benefits. They are now tied to this happy moment in the hearts and minds of more than a million viewers…not to mention all their friends and family online.
And the fun is far from over. Next on the agenda is a naming contest, which will, of course, involve all those online fans. Aside from a brief blip of “outrage” from some fringe animal rights activists, most everyone is at least smiling about April, the giraffe. Some are already opening their wallets. By getting in early and understanding what all the fuss was about, Toys R Us scored huge.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.