Happy Birthday Colin! A Facebook Marketing Success Story. Or is it? Reviewed by Momizat on . Update (07.03.2013) The Happy Birthday Colin trend has hit a new low, in my opinion. Just as I thought it would. Days before his actual birthday, ABC hopped on Update (07.03.2013) The Happy Birthday Colin trend has hit a new low, in my opinion. Just as I thought it would. Days before his actual birthday, ABC hopped on Rating: 0
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Happy Birthday Colin! A Facebook Marketing Success Story. Or is it?

Happy Birthday Colin! A Facebook Marketing Success Story. Or is it?

Update (07.03.2013)

The Happy Birthday Colin trend has hit a new low, in my opinion. Just as I thought it would. Days before his actual birthday, ABC hopped on board and took the chance to come up with the publicity stunt of a lifetime. The idea was that Colin would see the Facebook page on his birthday (which is March 9th). Instead, he found out about the whole thing at Good Morning America.

And I for one, find the whole idea disgusting. Not even a shred of what was supposed to be transmitted through this was preserved. Everything became nothing more than a cheap, way overrated hype. Watch the video below and share your opinion in the comment section.

And this is how you cheat over two million people into caring.



I’ve already discussed how Facebook isn’t really the greatest resource you would want to rely on when it comes to social media marketing. But there are some things it’s great at, like promoting events, artists, noteworthy people and, ultimately, life stories. And the Happy Birthday Colin page falls inside the last category, clearly showing how a simple idea can create a huge, complex hype. However, concerning this particular scenario – at what cost?

Colin’s Story Gone Viral, In a Nutshell

Colin, a 10-year-old from Richland, MI will turn 11 on March 9th (2014). His mom asked him whether he’d like a birthday party. He apparently said there was no point to it, given that he’s got no friends at school and so, nobody would come. On the Facebook page, his mom tells us that due to some disabilities, he’s acting out in school and other kids don’t take kindly to his behavior. In response, his mom decided to create the Happy Birthday Colin Facebook page where people could express their support for the little guy. Then, on his birthday, she will show him the page and hopes that Colin will be glad so many people from across the world took interest in his condition and predicament.

Mom's reasons for creating the page.

Mom’s reasons for creating the page.

As I’m writing this, the page has over 2 million ‘Likes’. I would not be surprised if it hit 3 million by March 9th. At first, local news outlets picked up the story, but now, you can even read about it on Huff Post, The International Business Times and even Daily Mail Online.

How Does the Happy Birthday Colin Page Fit into the Marketing Niche?

It’s simple. Nobody can say that hearing of this story won’t get us a bit mushy inside. We’re humans, we empathize – it’s what we do. Of course we’re driven by our melting hearts to ‘Like’, ‘Share’ and promote this sort of stuff. But in this particular case, I was a bit skeptic from the start. I mean, the boy looks normal to me. His condition has not been made public and I won’t go so far as to say that he may just be a little smarter than his schoolmates. This would totally fit the bill and would explain why other kids won’t hang around Colin.

Colin's Condition Has Not Been Disclosed

Colin’s Condition Has Not Been Disclosed

For the sake of argument, let’s suppose that his condition is real and is the source of his predicament – having no friends. Whatever the case, it’s hard to deny the impact the page made on the web. And that’s plain old marketing as far as I’m concerned. Just look at the posts – many ‘thank you’ posts, acknowledgements towards someone making a video, creating a picture or even writing a post about it. People love to know there’s a chance their voices might be heard and could make a difference. And in this case, they do. So messages are flooding in and posts are liked and shared constantly. But to what end?


Everybody Seems to be Missing the Point


First of all, I got pretty excited at first, thinking “Well, this is definitely new and interesting”. But then I saw pictures of Colin’s parents getting home with a van full of toys, games and postcards from around the world. That’s when I suddenly became slightly bothered by the whole thing. I can understand a Facebook like and a nice ‘Happy Birthday Colin’-type message posted on the page. That was the idea the mom had at first, wasn’t it? To get people’s support, not gladly receive a bunch of gifts for Colin. But they did (receive lots of presents) and had no problem with it which, in my book, turns the whole thing around and makes it something that it was not supposed to be – begging for attention. Or, at least, I hope it wasn’t about getting attention.

Van Full of Gifts and Postcards for Colin

Van Full of Gifts and Postcards for Colin


I won’t go over how there are starving kids all around the world, or that some communities of our fellow human beings lack drinking water. And I won’t point at people sending loads of gifts to a kid living comfortable with his family in the US. To each his own – everybody’s free to do as they will with their hard-earned cash. But I will ask this – how do presents, postcards and ‘likes’ on Facebook constitute a remedy for Colin’s problem (which we are led to believe is the lack of friends)? He’ll still be alone on his birthday (if what his mother posted on Facebook is true), having only his family around. Like he does now. Nothing will change. And kids can (and will) be mean, so I won’t be surprised if this whole attention trend directed towards Colin will only cause more spite and jealousy in his peers, further diminishing his odds at getting accepted into any conceivable social group at school.

Even so, I do wish the kid a sincere ‘Happy Birthday, Colin!’ And I do hope that all goes well for him. However, I can’t help but be reluctant in believing that after the 9th of March, it would all have been for nothing. Even worse, that it could actually do more harm than good.

About The Author

Content Writer

Content writer, editor and freelance ghostwriter. I enjoy writing just about anything and my number one goal is detecting and promoting quality online resources.

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Comments (10)

  • GetOverYourself

    Why would you write this article and try to tear down something nice for a child?
    You seriously have some mental issues.
    Get over yourself.
    Your article reveals a lot about your own miserable self.

    • Mihai Micsa

      I wasn’t even going to approve your comment, but then I thought – why not? You’re just proving my point – this is far from being ‘something nice for a child’. It’s for people like you to reaffirm their self-worth through a simple click.
      Luckily enough, you and others like you won’t ever miss the chance to reveal your true selves. I mean, really – judging and ‘diagnosing’ me with a mental illness just because my opinion is different than yours? I truly believe that even Colin would be ashamed of you.

  • Melissa

    I think you have construed this page all wrong. The family did not ask for the massive attention, cards or gifts. “Mom” simply wanted a few of her friends and family to post well-wishes for Colin on his birthday. The public took this viral, not the mother. You do not know what will be done with the gifts, perhaps they will be donated in Colin’s name, perhaps they will fund his college education. And you do not know the folks sending the gifts; they may also be donating to those starving children you referred to. Will Colin still BE alone with his family on his birthday, maybe. But will he FEEL alone, absolutely not. This little boy has unknowingly brought over 2 million people together world-wide to celebrate his life & love, lessons have been learned and taught. The “mean” kids at school should be jealous, it was most likely their behavior that helped create the situation, however, I believe most of them are going to WANT to be his friend due to his new-found “celebrity” status. If not, then that’s their problem. Colin knows he has millions of people who care for him, he needs no confirmation from the bullies at school. This little man is going places in life much farther than this page. This might be his 15 minutes of fame, let him have it!

    • Mihai Micsa

      Far be it from me to take his 15 minutes. But I think I am entitled to an opinion. And you may be right about what you say, but, as is my case, it’s only what you ‘think’ is going on. If I were any of the parents, I would’ve announced that gifts will be returned, because that wasn’t the point.
      And as for bringing 2 million people together… I don’t know about that. However, I’m fairly certain most ‘likes’ are the result of an established trend right now, and not of people actually caring about the issue. Also, let’s be honest – we’re talking about two million clicks, not two million people actually contributing with something.
      All in all, I do hope you’re right and I really do hope I’m wrong.

  • Melissa

    One more note, I’m wondering why the comments posted on YOUR page have to be approved by you? If you are going to put yourself into something that may bring controversy, be prepared to take the heat. Don’t set yourself up to pick and choose what you want people to see.

    • Mihai Micsa

      I get hundreds of spam comments each day with links to other websites. Some of them are handled by a plugin, others need to be reviewed by an editor (me). Any and all non-spam comments on this article have been made public. Just look at the first one.
      Of course, I completely understand you being skeptical. And a short answer would be: my playground, my rules. But I can assure you I’m not a hypocrite, regardless of what others may think.

  • Angie

    I agree on worrying how this will affect his relationship with his classmates in the future. Let’s face it…kids can be cruel, and this may only contribute to the problem.

  • Belle

    This is an incredibly depressing and incorrect outlook on the entire situation.
    So Colins’ mom wanted Colin to have a few friends and in the end a bunch of people gathered together in an act of LOVE!
    They’re not “celebrities” and they were absolutely not trying for a publicity stunt!
    I know you’re not alone in this.
    To many people seem too bitter to believe miraculous things DO happen.
    Anything GOOD that occurs has to be a “publicity stunt” or have “other motives” because for some reason it seems pure compassion has become a fantastical idea.
    Well if anything I’m sorry that you believe all that.
    It’s not going to make you any happier.
    Nor is spreading this negative outlook.
    Even IF people agree with you negativity feeds on negativity.
    You’ll just end up in a free-fire rant of anger.
    To conclude I direct you to a quote by Adam Horowitz
    “I suggest you let go of cynicism and embrace hope and optimism.”
    Please have a wonderful day, Mr. Micsa.
    I hope you see something that makes you smile.
    I mean it. ♥
    Everyone deserves happiness.

    • Mihai Micsa

      I would’ve really believed (better yet put – “would’ve liked to believe”) that you’re this nice person who still sees the world in big, bright colors. And I can’t pick a bone with those kind of people – they’re genuinely nice and it’s impossible not to like them to a certain degree. Impossible even for me – and as you might have noticed, I’m not that much of a people person.

      But you’re not one of those nice people. Because, in your first sentence of that heartfelt speech you just gave, you used the word ‘incorrect’. And as I make it my business to mind words, their uses and missuses, I couldn’t help but notice that smudge on your ‘kindness’.

      That kind of smudge will soon be hopefully reminiscent of organized religion, Victorian teaching methods and self-righteous hippies… with fairies on their spines and butterflies on their titties. http://bit.ly/1h4RfiD


  • Belle

    To start off I am sorry about that said “smudge”
    pray let me ask that you don’t hold a grudge.
    Were we person to person and speaking our edits I’d have clarified that’s not what I meant I said it.
    I’d like to state, in opinion is all that you said what I’m not in a similar squall.
    No I should not have said “you’re incorrect”
    But when you say what I’m not that seems just as direct.
    It’s an opinion which we’re all entitled. I believe in this time said opinions are vital.
    And if you proofread this statement and have issues with rants this time I’ll apologise to you in advance.
    Such is the web and the freedom to share.
    If we don’t catch a typo we may catch au contraire.
    I know you can choose whether or not to believe it
    but I AM sorry, Mike so please take that or leave it.



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