How Serendipity Boosted Twitter’s Revenues

A phenomenon occurred in Twitter recently.  The company broke all past records in terms of number of tweets. The hashtag #AlDubEBTamangPanahon raked in 41 million tweets on October 25, 2015, smashing the previous record of 35.6 million tweets set by the World Cup match of Germany versus Brazil in 2014. This sensation also grabbed the attention of BBC, CNN and Buzzfeed.  What makes it all the more interesting is that it originates from the unlikeliest of places.


Eat Bulaga, a noon time show that has been running on Philippine TV since 1979, was mainly viewed by an older generation of baby boomers. Recently the show shot through the stratosphere – to be followed by Filipino millennials and centenarians alike and cutting across all social classes.  Amazingly, it was all made possible, however unwittingly, by a 23-year old newbie actor and a 20-year old lipsynching girl.

It was this unlikely couple dubbed as Aldub that also sent Twitter soaring to new hashtag heights.

How did it happen exactly?

Maine Mendoza was a pretty girl who enjoyed making herself look ugly over social media.  More for her pure love of silliness than for any monetary consideration, she would post Dubsmash videos of herself.  One day, Maine got the shock of her life when she saw one of her Youtube videos getting more than a million likes.  She went viral from then on and got the title of “Dubsmash Queen.”

Enter Eat Bulaga.  It was quick to take a chance on Maine Mendoza who then had a hundred thousand followers on Youtube and around a million followers each on Twitter and Facebook.  It asked her to guest in one of its TV segments.  She was to accompany three of Eat Bulaga’s tough, macho characters who daily braved different municipalities across the country.  Usually, if it wasn’t a trip to some of the more undeveloped suburban corners, it would entail walking through some inner cities and ghettos where they would find a lucky winner whom they’d shower with a load full of cash and goods (a table spread of food, home appliances, a truck of cement, paint, jewelry etc.).

It was just supposed to be an ordinary entertainment gig.  Maine would probably just stay for a couple of episodes as most guests do.  But by a stroke of luck, the unexpected happened.

Eat Bulaga was airing live with a split screen setup.  Alden Richards, a young, handsome actor who also hosted Eat Bulaga’s studio-based segments, was in the TV studio and featured on one half of the split screen.  The other half of the split screen featured Maine who was out in the field.

There was Maine, doing one of her ridiculous Dubsmash acts out on the street, when the camera panned and zoomed in on Alden.  Maine’s eyes widened for an instant as she saw him watching her from the studio.  She had never personally met Alden before yet she seemed affected by the fact that he was watching her.  Alden’s expression seemed to be one of hidden delight, as if he was bewitched and amused at how such a nice and pretty girl could act so indescribably ridiculous.   As for Maine, she looked like her heart skipped a beat when she realized that the cute guy was looking at her. Both actors were caught off guard.

The feelings and facial expressions captured by the cameraman in that instant were priceless – genuine and unintended by the actors themselves.  There was no script or act involved, just a fleeting moment witnessed by the TV audience and a chance to speculate on what was left unsaid.

Watch that moment here:

Eat Bulaga, wanting to boost its ratings, skillfully grabbed the fish by its tail. It used that split screen moment to build a new love team that brought the whole country into a feverish infatuation. What could have been a split second of amusement gone into obscurity was instead preserved, featured and capitalized, translating into multiple millions of revenues not only for the show itself, but for the actors and the products they now endorse.

Just a few weeks into Aldub’s media fame, McDonald’s (Philippines) decided to invest in the Aldub duo and feature them in an ad.  Some sources now claim that McDonald’s has had a 470% increase in revenues attributable to that ad alone.  A cellphone manufacturer also reported that it quickly sold out its inventory and has had to put buyers on a queue when it got Maine Mendoza as endorser.  Advertisers are now getting on the bandwagon -Tide, Downy, Philippine Airlines, Coca Cola –  confident that the Aldub duo will give them similar hefty gains on their investment.

Serendipity, old fashioned romance and semi-reality TV – funneled through Maine’s social media following and compounded by Eat Bulaga’s old media power, then marketed to a nation of hopeless romantics who like to talk a lot and who are spread across the world as OFWs.  Turns out it was the recipe media marketing dreams are made of – a recipe that translates into multiple millions in revenues.  Some say Aldub’s marketing power is already nearing that of Manny Pacquiao’s.

As for Eat Bulaga, it has reinvented itself.  It now operates outside the bounds of the usual television show.  Every day, their audience would comment on social media about the last episode that aired.  Eat Bulaga would monitor and run with those comments to come up with the next TV episode the following day.  It became a sort of interactive TV where the actors can almost instantly play out the fantasies of their audience.

The question now is, how can others use what Eat Bulaga and Twitter discovered to gain viral media success?  Can you take the same ingredients and apply it to your own product or platform?  Can you replicate serendipity?  If not, is there a substitute?  As social, TV, radio and print media evolve and meld over the internet and the airwaves, the one who discovers and invests in the perfect recipe is destined for unimaginable marketing and financial success.