By: Sarah Emery
Black and blue or white and gold? Social media users worldwide were intrigued, frustrated, fascinated, and irritated (often all at once) when a seemingly simple picture of a dress went viral. A bizarre optical illusion caused the dress to appear black and blue to some people and white and gold to others. It felt like everyone from Rob Lowe to your great-aunt was posting on social media about which colors were “real.”
Many companies and celebrities alike immediately jumped on this prime public relations opportunity, many garnering thousands of retweets on Twitter and likes on Facebook. It was one ad posted at 12:08pm SAST (or 5:08am in Oxford) on March 6th that took the Internet by storm.
Designed by South African ad agency Ireland/Davenport and then taken to the South African branch of the Salvation Army, the ad portrays a bruised woman wearing a white and gold dress with the words “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” The ad has gained support worldwide, including news organizations and and has been retweeted over 15,000 times. A second PSA posted a few hours later stated “Because they cover it with white and and gold” and showed a beaten woman putting on makeup. Although the second ad has gained less traction, both have been hailed as groundbreaking and stunning by international news organizations such as Time and Newsweek.
How do we use viral topics to promote our brands in a tasteful, yet thought-provoking way? How can social media promote social change? It’s our duty to assure that our PR campaigns make an impact on society, but we must always be careful to assure that it’s the impact we want.