“First Kiss,” a video of strangers kissing, has become an Internet sensation.
Like a lot of Internet sensations, it’s kind of stupid, mostly staged, and less than fully honest.
But that hasn’t kept it from being shared by millions and becoming — in less than a week — the subject of many video parodies, including a dog version we’ll show you in a minute.
It was just last week that “First Kiss” appeared on the Internet, showing, or so it appeared, newly introduced couples — after much foot-shuffling and awkwardness — locking lips on camera.
It garnered more than 30 million views in less than three days, and many viewers, based on comments, found it sweet and heartwarming, almost pure, in a tongue-sucking kind of way.
Director Tatia Pilieva posted the short film on YouTube on March 10, with little explanation. The post didn’t clearly point out the film was an advertisement for a clothing brand’s 2014 line, but said only: “We asked twenty strangers to kiss for the first time.”
It was a couple of days later that WREN, a Los Angeles womenswear brand, admitted on Twitter that the video was an advertisement, and most of its kissers were actors and models.
Some bloggers went so far to ask if that constituted a “hoax.” Others viewed it as a legitimate “filmvertisement,” and its makers explained they were just trying to make something artistic and interesting.
“We make these fashion films every season,” said WREN founder Melissa Coker. “I strive to make them an interesting film that exists on its own rather than something that feels like a commercial, and it seems to be touching people — not only people who are in fashion and would see this, but also random guys who aren’t connected at all.”
That apparently left some feeling a bit manipulated.
“Knowing it’s an ad is initially forgivable until you realize that the majority of the people kissing are actors and models,” commented a blogger on the website Fstoppers. “Then the veil of whimsy is gone and all that’s left is another well planned, viral advertisement and our suspension of disbelief.”
We wouldn’t go so far as to call “First Kiss” a hoax, and sneaky advertising isn’t anything new. While television, radio and newspapers are all pretty good at passing off advertising as editorial content these days, the Internet makes it simpler than ever — both to disguise advertising and get it published or broadcast for free.
The Internet can also take credit for a rebirth in parodies, many of which have been made of “First Kiss” already — some in better taste than others.
Our favorite, of course, is “First Sniff,” the doggie version, produced by another ad agency, Mother London. Even though it’s staged, its actors aren’t acting — just being their butt-sniffing selves.