Last week saw the most viral story of 2015 so far – #TheDress. The last time a dress caused so much controversy was probably back in the mid-90s during the scandal between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
If you happened to be in a bunker last Thursday, here’s the story of #TheDress that left the world divided. A person in Scotland posted a washed-out photograph of a dress on her Tumblr blog and asked her followers whether they saw a blue dress with black lace or a white dress with gold lace. Because the two color options are so drastically different, it did not take long before the image found its way onto Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed and other places around the web. Everyone had a differing opinion on the colors they were seeing.
Everyone did agree on wanting to know WHY the color perception was different, though. We saw many theories. Some people said it depended on your screen’s display. Some said it was because of the lighting in the room. Some said it was based on how you feel on the inside – happy or sad, optimistic or pessimistic, etc. Some analyzed the warmth of the lights in the photo, and some took to Photoshop to pull out the colors.
Despite all of the arguing, there are some marketing lessons we can take away from #TheDress that broke the internet.
1. People Like Mystery
Humans are competitive by nature. Giving your audience a seemingly simple puzzle will almost always draw interaction because they will stop at nothing to solve it, even if all they gain is bragging rights.
2. People Enjoy Competition
Rivalry has a powerful impact on motivation. We see this all of the time at sporting events between opposing fans. You should work to create a dedicated audience that loves to stand up for your brand against the competition.
3. Perception is Reality
It is hard for people to accept that others see things differently, especially when the topic is as simple as “What color is this dress?” What you should take away from this is that a person’s opinion of a brand will be based on how they choose to see it. That opinion will impact likability, growth, sales and the opinions of others.
4. We Want to Know More
The controversy of #TheDress may have started as a debate on the color, but it ended as a mystery surrounding WHY we saw different colors. People will make something out of nothing simply because we’re curious and want to understand.
5. Have Fun
News topics will always go viral, so it’s nice to see when videos of cats or a llama chase make the headlines instead. These topics are entertaining and provide a break from the seriousness events happening around the world. It’s good to laugh every once in a while.