The Rutgers grads with a viral video teamed up with Hershey’s
“Smile. You deserve to be happy.”
Back in 2017, Rutgers students and best friends Mustafa Hussain and Ahmad Atieh came together to incite nothing other than positivity across campus to their fellow peers. Their video "Making Strangers Smile (Guaranteed to Make You Smile)" echoed their mission of performing an act of kindness to strangers in hopes to make their day. It did. Amassing over several million views across multiple media platforms including Unilad, YouTube and Reddit, Mustafa and Ahmad spread their passion of making others smile while also delivering a simple yet necessary message: It doesn't take much to make someone's day. A Hershey's chocolate bar, a quote and a personalized message was all it took not only to make dozens of students smile, but to gain the attention of the renowned chocolate bar company.
We got a chance to interview Mustafa and Ahmad, when the video first went viral, and now we got to for a second time. Now graduated with civil engineering degrees and a large supply of chocolate bars gifted to them by Hershey, the two have been working post-graduation. To their surprise, the chocolate wasn't the only gift they would be getting.
"They contacted us about a month ago," said Mustafa. "They wanted us to be a part of the Heartwarming the World initiative. We teamed up with producers and filmed another video."
Hershey's Heartwarming the World campaign launched on September 13th, the day the chocolate brand's founder Milton Hershey was born. On this day, it is tradition for the company to send its employees out of the office and into the local neighborhoods of Pennsylvania to spread happiness and positivity through Hershey's chocolate bars. This year, the campaign took off nationally, illustrating that every day individuals can join in on the fun to brighten someone's day. Mustafa and Ahmad were selected to be a part of this special initiative.
When asked about their original motivation to create their video using Hershey's chocolate, Mustafa replied, "I feel like Hershey's chocolate is universal. Everyone knows a Hershey’s chocolate bar. The company also has their vision. Their vision is to spread goodness with chocolate. We thought this is the perfect item, and most people like chocolate!"
From talking with the two best friends, it was clear that they had a mission, that they were passionate about making others smile. Interestingly enough, on top of being full-time students during the filming of their first video, it was revealed that it took about a month to finish crafting the viral 'Making Strangers Smile'.
What was it about making a video that could have potentially not gone viral that kept the two going? Dedication and altruism.
"When you think of a person smiling, you obviously smile yourself, and we were thinking 'What’s something we can do to motivate people as they’re starting their semester?’ As we were filming, to be honest, it made us feel even better because we got reactions that even warmed our hearts. We were doing something nice and making people smile," said Ahmad.
"There's a lot of hatred going on in the world. You don't really see too many positive videos," Mustafa added.
Ahmad built off of this statement. "Even if it makes one person happy, we did something that we wanted to."
It wasn't just one person though. Luckily for them, millions of people all over the world caught a glimpse of the best friends making peoples' days.
"We get so many emails from people saying that they've seen the video and that they want to do the same thing in their country or that they really felt inspired by it," said Mustafa.
From being on the radio in Lebanon, being contacted by news stations in Europe and Asia, and having the Hershey company see it, the two friends from New Jersey have something to take pride in, but they're not done.
"We're trying to up our production quality," Ahmad mentioned. Giggling, he still hopes Ellen comes across it one day.
"We have a lot of new projects coming up. We have a schedule set up that we’re trying to execute. We hope to do some new collaborations, but we’re not sure yet," Mustafa added.
'ItsMustafa', the YouTube account where the original video can be found, gained traction in the last year-and-a-half. Growing from a mere few thousand followers, the channel now has 28,000 subscribers with full intention of expanding.
All-in-all, the takeaway message from Hussain and Atieh's videos is quite simple.
"If we can do it," Mustafa began, "two Rutgers students – then everyone can do it. It shouldn't just be about who has a camera. You don’t even have to have any equipment. Just go out and do it."
You can find Mustafa and Ahmad here on YouTube.