When native Manhattanite Jenna Livingston woke up at 7am on Easter Sunday 2012, it wasn’t to go to church. (Sorry Jesus, we still heart you.) But Jenna’s Jewish and was on a different pilgrimage: to start a viral Easter egg hunt where people could crack open a brightly colored plastic egg… from Ryan Gosling. That morning Jenna hid over 200 eggs all over downtown Manhattan, from the East Village to Soho. She’d already set up the Twitter account @GoslingEaster and Tweeted at New York City-based celebrities such as Katie Couric, Bethenny Frankel and Bravo Andy, alerting them to the hunt. None of them responded or retweeted her, so she just thought it was going to be a small egg hunt, if anything. “That morning I saw a homeless man pick up an egg and throw it away and I thought… this is not going to work. I went back to bed,” said Jenna.
Three hours later she was woken up to her phone buzzing. @GoslingEaster was ablaze. “People were freaking out tweeting me, ‘Where are these eggs?’” said Jenna. “One girl in particular left her brunch and asked me to tweet her some clues. I tweeted her a picture, and she went out and found one. Turns out Gawker had picked it up and Mashable was watching the whole thing go down live on Twitter.”
Going viral is easier said than done. If you search tumblr and YouTube, there’s mostly ghost towns filled with poorly lit, failed DIY sitcoms and people exploiting their children, making Joe Jackson and Dina Lohan look like model parents. On occasion, the success story pops up in your Facebook feed and you’ll spend the rest of the day wisely investing your time in it, staring and sharing online. I wondered, what’s the secret? “Do something really simple that people can relate to or see a truth in. If you can find something current and put a twist on it, you’ll probably have the recipe for success,” said Jenna. So it’s about really immersing yourself into the zeitgeist. The key seems to be discovering what people are talking the most about and cueing your creative energy. When Jenna had the idea for Gosling Easter, Ryan had just moved to the area. “At the time he was just coming off the heels of saving a pedestrian from a car, he broke up a fight at Astor Place, he basically unintentionally did everything to make his recent move to New York stand out,” said Jenna. The added twist? “Nobody knew whether or not it was from him, so I think that had something to do with some of the mystery and intrigue.”
Mashable was the first to uncover who exactly was behind Gosling Easter. Before Jenna revealed herself, she watched the media speculate as to her identity. Operative word: her. “The media thought it was a man. I’d read things like, ‘We don’t know who he is, the creator.’” This coming off the revelation that science blogger, Elise Andrew, who had 4.2 million Facebook fans, was a woman, causing backlash and sexist diatribes. You could search the solar system for a straight dude who would hide Easter eggs with Ryan Gosling’s picture and not find him. “Blah, blah, babes, blah, Red Sox, babes, BTW, I was up all night writing sexy headlines from Ryan Gosling.”
Not gonna happen. How did this make Jenna feel? “That part sucked. I didn’t like it at all. I mean, as if we’re not capable of doing the same things as men.” She admitted that although that was a small downside to an otherwise excellent experience, the success of the project inspired her to take things next level. For Easter 2013, she made Gosling Easter go global. Realizing that one of last year’s key ingredients was the question of whether Ryan had hid the eggs, she needed this year to be Gosling 2.0. She staged egg hunts in London, Chicago and San Francisco. “I wrote friends in each city and told them they could take credit for it. I stuffed 600 eggs and shipped them out. 600 pictures and 600 phrases. So, 1,200 different elements. Also, London is five hours ahead, I had to wake up at 3 AM to tweet the clues.” The preparation took both her and her boyfriend three Friday nights.
Next year for 3.0, she’s going even bigger. She wants to do a charity tie-in. “I’d love to hear from charities interested in being a part of Gosling Easter, I’d especially love to raise money for kids in need,” said Jenna. A smile spread across her face at the idea of the Easter 2014 venture. “Next year we’re hiring interns. I can’t do all that.”
P.S. Jenna informed us that she strongly feels Ryan knows about the project as the journalists who have interviewed her in the past have reached out to his PR team. Hey Ryan, why don’t you give Jenna a “HEY GIRL” for all the great work she’s done?
Featured image designed by Patrick McInerney.