Lessons from a “Certified Young Person”
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably seen New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo’s most recent tweet. You know, the one where Paul Rudd is dubbed a “certified young person.” Yeah, that one. To anyone who’s seen the recent Marvel movies, the words “Paul Rudd” and “young person” should be an odd pairing. That’s because the Ant-Man actor is 51 years old.
Did Governor Cuomo make a mistake? Nope. The tweet included a video PSA encouraging millennials to wear their masks, and it’s actually hilarious. The video features Rudd in a banana-yellow hoodie, tilted “NY” snapback, a pair of Beats by Dre and a skateboard in tow.
Rudd swaggers up to the camera and says, “Yo, what up, dogs?” He continues with, "I was talking on the iPhone with my homie, Gov. Cuomo, and he's just going off about how us millennials need to wear masks because, get this, apparently a lot of COVID is transmitted by us millennials."
A “fam” here, a “vibe check” there, a couple of TikToks and a whole lot of irrelevant props – you get the picture. As awkward as Rudd sounds in the video, the PSA took off on Twitter. In less than a day, it received almost 3 million views. As of Friday, September 18th, only four days later, that number rose to almost 8 million.
It’s clear that Cuomo’s millennial-targeted video highlights the power that comedy has for an advertising agency. A New York Times 2018 report, “The Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share Online?”, found five reasons why people share content online, one of which was “to bring valuable and entertaining content to others.” It’s safe to say Cuomo’s video checks the entertaining box. While some, like Forbes contributor Steve Olenski, warn that “humor can cheapen certain ideas,” Rudd ensures that his message hits home. After a minute and a half of playful jokes and sarcasm, he changes his tone by sincerely imploring viewers to “just wear a mask… hundreds and thousands of people are dying and it’s preventable.”
This video can also teach advertising professionals a valuable lesson in influencer marketing: Selecting Rudd as his actor of choice was a smart move on Cuomo’s part. Some of Rudd’s most recognizable work is his acting in the movie Ant-Man, an action comedy with plenty of wit and amusing one-liners. Rudd is used to making people laugh.
What’s more, Rudd lives in New York. Because Cuomo’s efforts to lower the COVID-19 cases have been concentrated in his own state, choosing a New York resident to convey his message makes way for considerable audience credibility. If it were a different Marvel actor, say, Australia-native Chris Hemsworth, playing the role of the “certified young person,” New Yorkers might have felt less compelled to hear him out. That would be like when Oprah Winfrey tweeted about the Microsoft Surface from an iPad. Bad move.
I’ll close this blog by leaving readers with a final word of advice: Keep an eye out for viral content, like Andrew Cuomo’s millennial-mask PSA. Pay attention to why certain content is more successful than others and ask what makes them shareable. Then, incorporate those elements into your own social media content and watch it take off. Trust me, it works. Or as Paul Rudd would like to put it, “No cap.”