It was 100 degrees in Dallas yesterday and that helped inspire Facebook Live posts at WFAA, the TEGNA-owned ABC affiliate in Dallas. It was a riff on the classic TV news cliché of frying an egg on the sidewalk on a hot day, but with an artsy twist (and for a good cause).
WFAA Digital Editor Alisha Ebrahimji* came up with the concept after seeing tons of Pinterest posts in which the same effect was achieved with a hair dryer. The idea is was to attach 64 Crayola crayons in rainbow order to a canvas and then let them sit under the heat of the Texas sun on the roof of their station, melting them into a cool piece of art. The station’s digital team set up a camera focused on the canvas next to a thermometer and a clock and let it roll on Facebook Live and quite a crowd built up online to watch, but there was one issue (as pointed out by local publication D Magazine in a blog post that updated along with the live stream through the day): Crayola crayons begin to soften at about 105 degrees and have a melting point between 120-147 degrees.
“A sister station in Charlotte tried it, then our meteorologists kept talking about a heat advisory for Dallas this week, so I thought, ‘Let’s give it a try and see what happens,'” Ebrahimji said in a Facebook Message we sent asking about the post.
So, the station’s first attempt was a hit — at least in terms of Engagement. The post had nearly 18,000 total Engagements and more than 677,000 views as of this writing. However, it ended in failure as the crayons didn’t quite get hot enough to melt before a strong gust of wind knocked them to the ground and out of view after an hour and 17 minutes of streaming.
“When it blew over, my heart sank (dramatic, I know),” Ebrahimji wrote. “But I knew there was another way to make it work. [News Operations Manager] Bill Fesh suggested putting it on the ridges on the roof since it wouldn’t blow over there.”
In the comments of the stream, Embrahimji turned the disappointment into a social poll. She asked followers to “like the comment if [they thought] it would be a huge flop” and to “give it a heart [the ‘love’ reaction]” if they thought the crayons would melt. The audience was doubtful — they received more likes than loves.
But Ebrahimji and the station would not be denied. A short time later, they launched a second live stream with the canvas on the rooftop where it was a good bit hotter. On the second attempt, the action got going just before the 52-minute mark (seemingly with the purple section leading the charge, for those who were wagering on it). After the full four hours of live streaming allowed by Facebook Live, the project looked like a success.
The second stream garnered an additional an additional 5,300 Engagements and about 200,000 more views. And of course, success inspired imitation.
About 45 minutes after WFAA began its first live stream, KXAS, the NBC O&O affiliate in the market, launched their own stream of cookies baking inside a car. KXAS’s post amassed more than 12,000 Engagements and more than 475,000 views. A couple hours after that, WFAA’s next door neighbor, The Dallas Morning News, took to their roof and Facebook Live to melt some desserts (and some Texas-shaped butter) in a race as their Audience in the comments made their picks on which would be the first to become a puddle. That (much shorter) live stream had about 525 Engagements and 16,000 views.
All in all, it looked like a day of fun summer projects around Dallas to attract some attention during the slow summer months. Even better, WFAA’s project was for a good cause. The station is auctioning off the resulting art on an eBay account over the weekend, and the resulting profits will go to Community Partners of Dallas, a charity that will use the funds to buy school supplies for children in the foster care system.
Click here to view the auction and bid before it closes on Monday, July 31, at 3 p.m. CT.
UPDATE (7/31): The auction has closed and the winning bid was $3,150. That will buy a lot of school supplies!
*Full disclosure: Alisha and I worked together briefly before I joined Share Rocket.