Stop Selling Me How To Feel!

So remember that “FIRST KISS” video that went viral two weeks ago? Do you also remember that it was an advertisement? I know, true romance is dead and commerce is on the up. On the evening of March 11th, my Facebook newsfeed all but exploded from the amount of shares of this video. It was shared by not only my Facebook friends, but also through media outlets like and Huffington Post.

Though the ad began by saying ‘presented by WREN’, this gave no clear indication that it was an ad for a Los Angeles based clothing line labelled WREN, as it then went on to say “a film by Tatia Pilieva”. In case you missed it, the video involves 20 apparent strangers who share a ‘first kiss’. The footage is in black and white and the strangers embrace to an emotive song that builds as the couples get intimate. These strangers turned out to be hired musicians, actors and models aka professional performers.Every outlet I read at the time “First Kiss” initially went viral went on about the ‘cute’ concept of 20 strangers kissing for the first time; there was no mention that we were viewing an advertisement. It was about 5 hours after the clip went viral that another round of information went around on social media declaring that this video was all for the purpose of advertising.

The screenshot above is an update from Huffington Post, explaining that the short film was made for advertising purposes

So how did this ad go viral? The video was originally posted on, but it wasn’t until it was posted on the social media platform, Youtube, that it became a viral hit. After ‘FIRST KISS’ was uploaded on Youtube it was shared across various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and through email. Most notably it was shared through Reddit, where users are the most interactive. This method is called viral marketing. “First Kiss” is not the first ad to function this way, nor will it be the last.

But does viral marketing work? After the ad went viral, Melissa Coker, founder of clothing line WREN, wrote an article,How We Made A Viral Video Of Strangers Kissing And Increased Sales By Nearly 14,000%, explaining how this viral campaign was successful as it resulted in an increase in sales and a break through for Wren into the online clothing market. Coker found that using emotive content was the most successful way to have her advertisement so widely shared across the different social media platforms. Coker also mentioned that sales for Wren are now 13,6000% higher than a week before the ad campaign launched. This reinforces the notion that emotive marketing is an effective form of advertising.

“First Kiss” has demonstrated that emotive marketing is a successful way of gaining a wide audience, so the next obvious question to ask is: does it matter that we’ve been deceived through our emotions into consuming? “First Kiss” has been praised for being a work of genius and ridiculed as exploiting consumers through emotive content to sell a product. What do you think?

About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
This entry was posted in BCM210 (Research Practices in Media and Communication) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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