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Social Marketing Inspiration: Tootsee Roll Mom

Here’s a dose of real-life social marketing inspiration for you, from the least likely place you’d expect it: a dancing pregnant woman.

Yuki Nishizawa and her spouse, Connell Cloyd, were about to have a baby. Bracing through painful waves of contractions in her room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, Yuki hit play on her iPad and… began to dance?

It’s not what most people think of when they think of childbirth. But as Yuki explained later, her labor was starting off slow and the hospital staff were encouraging her to keep moving. To help lift her spirits and lighten the mood, she decided to break out some smooth moves.

Well, the smoothest she could muster, anyway.

Laughing, Connell picked up his phone. He recorded two videos of Yuki dancing to older popular songs and shared them with his Facebook friends:

Prenatal ritual!

Posted by Connell Cloyd on Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The buttafly… uhn uhn thats old! Let me see your tootsie roll! Click the youtube link on my page so we can reach a million veiws!

Posted by Connell Cloyd on Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Within just a couple of days, the second video went viral, clocking over 7 million views, 73,000 shares, 8,000 likes, and hundreds of comments. The first one didn’t do too badly either — at almost half a million views, any social marketer would call that a success.

But Yuki and Connell aren’t social marketers. They’re regular people who just happened to stumble across the perfect recipe for virality: five parts curious (“A woman in labor dancing? No way!”), three parts humorous, two parts cute, and a dash of good timing. It’s the kind of lucky break that brands dream of getting their hands on.

But you can’t hold out hope for getting lucky. Anyone could win the marketing lottery in theory, but in practice most never will, no matter how many tickets they buy.

But the good news is that marketing is very much unlike a lottery in that you can create your own winnings.

And the winner here was the hospital Yuki labored and gave birth at.

Not taking the easy route pays off

Brigham and Women’s Hospital could have easily piggybacked on the success of Connell’s videos. They could have simply pressed a button and shared the videos or any number of other viral articles circulating about the couple to their own Facebook wall. Instead, BWH did much better than that: they created their own content to share.

Just 48 hours after Connell originally posted the videos, BWH posted their own video: a “behind-the-scenes” interview with Yuki, Connell, and brand-new baby Coji that explained why Yuki started dancing:


Dancing through Labor Pains at Brigham and Women’s HospitalEarlier this week, Yuki and her husband, Connell, welcomed their new son into the world. During her labor, Connell recorded Yuki dancing through her labor pains here at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to share with their friends and family on social media. Little did they know that in less than 48 hours, that video would trend on Facebook, resulting in more than 4.1 million views! Dr. Bill Camann, director of obstetric anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says that any type of movement during labor is encouraged, as it can be helpful in relieving a woman’s pain and taking her mind off the intensity of labor.

Posted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital on Thursday, August 20, 2015


The video captured the human interest angle while ending on an educational note. In the post, a top BWH doctor is quoted as saying that “any type of movement during labor is encouraged, as it can be helpful in relieving a woman’s pain and taking her mind off the intensity of labor.”

As a medical institution, BWH’s promotional focus is primarily on health awareness, research and innovation, and thought leadership. It wouldn’t have made sense for them to capitalize on the couple’s newfound popularity without couching it in these terms.

On-brand messaging with a social boost

This was an insanely smart move. BWH stayed 100% on brand and got the views to boot, mainly from folks interested in learning more about the couple. Most of their Facebook posts average under 50 likes, but their video on Yuki and Connell is at 9,000 likes and counting — not to mention over 5,000 shares.

It’s a good marketing success story, but it wasn’t without hard work. Brigham and Women’s Hospital went the extra mile to create their own original content and it paid off. To be sure, making their own video took a ton of effort, but they were rewarded with a ton of engagement. Yuki and Connell got lucky, but BWH created their own luck.

Where are you finding marketing inspiration these days?

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