When did happiness die?
That’s the question I found myself asking as I walked through a shopping centre to the sound of children screaming, music skipping, and what I can only assume to be an underpaid marketing executive asking people to ‘hashtag Rastamouse’.
I looked down to where the sounds were coming from to see the kind of thing you don’t expect to find on a Thursday lunchtime – a large reggae mouse dancing on a grey, lifeless stage, while a handful of children sat in front of him wondering who he was and how they were meant to engage with him socially.
Now, being much older than Rastamouse’s target audience, I wasn’t entirely sure who he was. I now know that he is a crime solving rastafarian rodent who is part of a band known as Da Easy Crew. When he’s not busy laying down dem beats, he spends his time working as a vigilante detective for Da President of Mouseland. Thank you Google.
I didn’t really know what Rastamouse was doing in Meadowhall, but I knew that hashtagging him wasn’t something the half-interested crowd were going to do. A hashtag is meant to be a way to group conversations and share experiences, and while everyone there was sharing some kind of experience, none of them looked like they’d ever used Twitter. Out of the toddlers and their middle-aged parents, I’d imagine only a handful owned a smartphone and fewer still knew what the little bird logo at the bottom of their home screen was for.
But still, the man on the microphone persisted.
“On stage now is some other mouse. Look how cool she is. While you’re enjoying the show don’t forget to hashtag Rastamouse. Please hashtag Rastamouse. I have to put a report together on this next week and the hashtag was my only idea.”
In the crowd a few children laughed at the funny words the man was saying, while their parents took hundreds of photos that they’d be filling their Facebooks with when they got home. None of them were hashtagging Rastamouse. Even Rastamouse wasn’t hashtagging Rastamouse. Rastamouse’s band were sneaking off behind the stage to have a cigarette. They were not hashtagging Rastamouse.
Skip to Tuesday morning. The Bank Holiday Weekend is over, the hangovers are kicking in and Jesus Christ has once again failed to rise. A marketing manager opens up their Hootsuite account expectantly, before calling in their young executive.
“You told me branded hashtags were what all the big names in entertainment were using now,” they say.
“They are,” he insists, “I asked everyone to hashtag Rastamouse. I even made the hashtag symbol with my hands to get the crowd going.”
His boss looks at her screen and then back to him. She shakes her heads.
“7 hashtags. That’s all it got,” she says, sternly.
“That’s better than nothing,” the exec replies hopefully.
“They were all from our own accounts.”
The experiment has failed. Rastamouse retires. Reggae is dead. The hords of millennials, that vague age range between 18 and 35 that everyone seems to want to target without really knowing how, failed to turn up to see Rastamouse perform at Meadowhall and with that went any hopes of him being hashtagged. Only 2 people watched Rastamouse live on Periscope. No-one opened his Snapchat story. His carefully seeded content marketing strategy was seen by all the right people but none of them cared because happiness is dead.
The hashtag has killed happiness.
The hashtag has killed Rastamouse.
The hashtag has left Mouseland at the mercy of whatever kind of crime a TV show aimed at toddlers can get away with showing.
Bob Marley digs himself a deeper grave.