For anyone who has ever dreamed of getting birthday wishes from Snoop Dogg, Gilbert Gottfried, or even Stormy Daniels, there’s Cameo. The three-year-old platform leverages fan culture and nostalgia to create a new kind of social experience: Users purchase personalized video shout-outs from celebrities and influencers for anywhere between $2 and $2,500. Cameo, which takes a 25% cut, is able to solve one of the conundrums of the social media age by delivering satisfying, personal interactions between celebrities and their fans. On top of that, the famous people are paid for their talents, and fans get a shareable piece of content—the perfect viral marketing tool to expose more people to Cameo. Last year, the platform grew its talent roster from 5,000 people to more than 20,000 and facilitated the creation of more than 400,000 videos (up from 100,000 in 2018), which included pep talks, internet parody videos, and Sugar Ray front man Mark McGrath doing someone’s dirty work in a breakup (“You mean the world to her. But she says she’s having difficulty staying in this long-distance relationship”). “Every day, we’re talking to our customers, finding out who they want that we don’t have, and then trying to get them on,” says cofounder and CEO Steven Galanis. The company has also begun experimenting with brand partnerships: The Kool-Aid Man became a free bookable celebrity for a short period last summer. Oh yeah!
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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.