“It’s all about capturing lightning in a bottle and enabling creators’ relationships with their fans through one-on-one connections—and also to monetize that,” says Arthur Leopold, president of Cameo. “In these tumultuous times [Tariq] was someone who could bring a feeling of joy to the world. Our team identified that and immediately reached out to Recess Therapy to try to get in touch with his parents.”
Tariq and his mother, Jessica (who has withheld their last name for privacy reasons), both liked the idea and began making videos for $30 a pop. Demand quickly became overwhelming, though. And before long, Tariq was back in school, so prices increased to temper the demand.
Today, a Corn Kid Cameo will cost you $220. (Prices fluctuate. That rate is $30 lower than the $250 asking price on Wednesday.)
Business videos start at $1,000, and Tariq has made several of those as well. His spot for Chipotle went viral, generating nearly 24 million views on TikTok and becoming the brand’s highest-performing TikTok and Instagram posts of all time.
Wait for it pic.twitter.com/4ivkt8YJMy
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) August 27, 2022
He has cheered on the Nebraska Cornhuskers . . .
Go Go Go Big Red!!!
-CORN KID ???? pic.twitter.com/YQ4vSpqkor
— Nebraska Huskers (@Huskers) August 25, 2022
Shoe manufacturer Mache Runner enlisted him to unveil its $300 Maize shoes . . .
And he announced a new flavor of RxBar protein bars.
Pumpkin Spice RXBAR is back! Sorry Team Corn fans… To help break the news and soften the blow, we partnered with Corn Kid to help announce the return of your favorite not so basic fall flavored protein bar. We promise… it still has the JUICE! ???? Shop that link in bio and have a corn-tastic day! ???????????? itsitscornrcornkidrcornsongrcorntokhithasthejuicempumpkinspicempumpkinspicelifempumpkinspiceeverythingmpkinspiceseason
♬ Luxury fashion (no vocals) – TimTaj
If the leap from viral hit to influencer seems fast, that’s a credit to Cameo’s talent acquisition team. A group of roughly 30 people at the company are tasked with finding the next big thing before it has hit that level of stardom.
For the past five years, the Cameo group has scouted and recruited creators and people who have passionate, strong databases. TikTok influencers alone have 80 pages of listings in the company’s talent library of 50,000 personalities. But Corn Kid could be the team’s biggest get to date.
Some 85% of his Cameos have been shared with others. And he has been, in the past week, in the top three people on the platform in terms of page views and bookings.
“We have a saying internally about how we need to be thinking about how we can capture virality,” Leopold says. “So many people have 15 minutes to 15-day moments of fame. With social media, that time period can elongate, and 15 seconds can oftentimes turn into a full year. Think about the yodeling kid from a few years ago—10 or 15 years ago, that would be something you saw on the nightly news, and everyone would have a laugh and that would be that. Now . . . [the yodeling kid is] headlining festivals.”
It doesn’t hurt that “celebrities” are no longer confined to television, movies, music, or sports. Audiences and platforms are much more specific, which, ironically, has broadened opportunities.
“The definition of fame has changed so drastically in the past five to seven years with the rise of these platforms and reality TV,” Leopold says. “Leonardo DiCaprio is not nearly as famous to a large percentage of talent as the Corn Kid is . . . because he’s not as consistently in front of people.”