Why We Love “Hump Day” So Much

Camels love hump day, and so do most American workers.

Chances are you’ve seen the Geico insurance commercial starring a camel excitedly interrupting everyone in the office on Wednesday, also known as hump day.

The video has social media by storm and goes viral every single week, according to David Waterhouse, of the technology research firm Unruly.

The “vast majority” of branded videos usually peak on day two, but the Geico ad has attracted a “huge spike in sharing activity” every Wednesday since its launch on May 22, Waterhouse said.

It may seem obvious that a commercial about hump day would garner more hits on Wednesdays. But experts say there is something more profound going on.

Most American employees are not happy at work, and they welcome any sign of the weekend, according to Rich Hanley, director of Quinnipiac University’s graduate journalism program.

“The commercial fed into that preexisting condition,” Hanley said. “When you get to the middle of the week the end is in sight; the proverbial hump has been passed. Americans celebrate this by sharing this video.”

There’s plenty to celebrate, namely the end of another unhappy week for many Americans who feel miserable at work.

A recent Gallup poll found that only 30 percent of Americans are engaged in their jobs.

Seventy percent of American workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged from their workplaces, the 2013 State of the American Workplace Study also said.

Actively disengaged workers are defined as employees who are “miserable and roam the halls spreading discontent,” Gallup CEO Jim Clifton wrote in the report.

The brains behind Geico’s camel ad are capitalizing on that.

“People seek out this [hump day ad] in particular because people are always looking for a pick-me-up during the week,” said Wade Alger, Creative Director at The Martin Agency, which created the Geico Campaign. “This one people keep coming back because it’s a weekly tradition.”

There is a disagreement between academics of when exactly "hump day" was first coined. Estimates seem to range from the early 1900s to 1970. Hanley, who follows the intersection of social media and advertising, said the phrase became more common once American workplaces became more computerized. The phrase TGIF – Thank God It’s Friday – originated around the same time, also celebrating the end of an unpleasant workweek, Hanley added.

Workers rejoicing on Friday have added another YouTube tradition to their weekly ritual: watching (or at least sharing) Rebecca Black’s music video “Friday.” In the song, Black proclaims such end-of-the-week nuggets as, "Gotta get down on Friday" and “Everybody is looking forward to the weekend.” YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon said views of the pop music video still spike weekly on Friday. The video came out in March 2011.

So are jaded employees wasting time on the company’s dime by watching viral videos all day in the office? YouTube says: not necessarily.

“Our data differs a bit from what you might be thinking—the peak time for watching YouTube is during primetime evening hours across the globe,” McLernon said by email. He cautioned that people are more likely watching web videos at home than at work.

Nevertheless, it’s the message of the videos, more than the medium, that seems to resonate with workers.

Hanley, of Quinnipiac, said it doesn’t matter whether people watch videos at work or home. Either way, Americans are uniting around the feeling of relief they get as they head toward the weekend, he said.

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