Great ‘kill yourself trying’ selfie challenge

Everyday brands capitalize on a ‘fad’ or a compulsive youth obsession or a trending hash tag to push forward their key messages and stay more relevant to current times.

While this is okay to fuel brand recognition, it is observed that a general sense of responsibility towards welfare of the people, who buy your product, takes a back seat, because all they want to do is sell.

For example, in the early 2000’s, several brands, from branded clothing to slimming yoghurts, exploited the ‘zero-figure’ trend. And in recent years, the obsession with ‘selfies’ (Word of the Year, 2013) has got make-up brands, travel companies, packaged foods and even youth channels now our beloved MTV India, taking advantage of this through The Great Selfie Challenge.

The popular youth entertainment brand will take 5 selfi(e)sh people on an adventure around India to click epic selfies while breaking back and losing limb in the process. Participants will be able to use the sponsor’s latest range of phones to capture a selfie while cliff diving or take one posing outside a haunted house before the rumoured ghosts bites their head off. All this is to tickle our voyeuristic gene and let us watch, again, the lives of others who accomplish the most prestigious title bestowed upon them in their unambitious youth – King/Queen of Selfies.

Last year, Sylwia Rajchel, a Polish medical student, slipped while taking a self-portrait on the ledge of the Puente de Triana Bridge in Seville, Spain. She obviously didn’t have a full-fledged production crew with her so we assume participants of this challenge will be safe or the death-defying selfie tasks will be manipulated to keep viewers engaged.

In January 2015, three students in Mathura, India stopped their car near railway tracks to take a selfie on the tracks as close as possible to an approaching train. The poorly timed ‘daredevil selfie’ resulted in all three students being hit by the oncoming train, killing them on the spot.

These are just two of the many examples that occur all the time when people take their obsession to life-threatening limits. Creating engagement that thrives on this severe problem among the youth, and giving them an ego-boost through an immaterial title might work to grab enough eyeballs allowing for numerous possibilities of brand placements. Voila! Marketing wizardry!

A British male teenager went to the extent of trying to commit suicide after he was unable to take what he felt was the perfect selfie. Danny Bowman became so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that he would spend roughly 10 hours per day taking up to 200 selfies trying to get the perfect shot. As things got more and more intense for Danny, he lost nearly 30 pounds, dropped out of school and did not leave the house for six months as he kept trying for the perfect picture. During his suicide attempt, Bowman was saved by his mother. Source

To participate and convert your boredom to something whimsical and otherworldly, log on to the many campaigns that ask for your selfies.

Shall we say, may the force be with you?


An avid traveller, writer, filmmaker and adventure junkie - Ritesh Matlani started his career 5 years ago in Publishing in the Middle East. Over the years, he's explored the marketing and branding territory in interesting ways. Between producing coffee table books, running a youth media design agency and managing accounts of luxury hotels at an ad agency in Dubai, he managed to travel, learn, love and live.