Who’s Afraid of a Little Kiss?

Even if you haven’t seen it yet, you will have heard about the viral video entitled ‘First Kiss’. The three-and-a-half minute video, shot in black and white, shows ten pairs of strangers kissing for the first time and it has become the latest YouTube hit with over 44 million views. But there is a twist.


The video was released by the artist on Monday morning to a couple of friends. Through the infinite power of online sharing, it then reached staggering viewers in a matter of hours. All the comments on the YouTube video were exceedingly positive as viewers were intrigued by the reactions of people sharing a first kiss with a stranger. Even the media outlets who wrote articles and shared the video discussed its beauty as a piece of art capturing the awkward moment.

Then everything turned.

People started to find out that it was actually commissioned by fashion house WREN. From that point on, opinion turned. Suddenly this video was just another viral marketing stunt. A tacky set up with actors rather than real people and scripted reactions. Comments on the video went from exceedingly positive to incriminating and all the articles about the short film were focussed on deceptive marketing.

This response would be understandable if the public found out that the short film had been commissioned by global conglomerate Ralph Loren, Versace or even ChapStick. But it was produced by a tiny fashion house of four workers in Los Angeles that was looking for an alternate way to spread word about their brand as they couldn’t afford a runway show.

Video creator, Tatia Pileva, has been defending her video this week. As it turns out, most of the participants are models or musicians who are friends with Tatia Pileva. But it is not scripted. All the kissers are still strangers. And the reactions are genuine.

This isn’t exactly the headquarters for the dark arts of marketing. It’s a tiny company that thought they would try something different. And it isn’t exactly the same deceptive marketing used by global brands.

The video starts with ‘WREN presents’ and WREN are credited for their clothes in the credits. There haven’t been any efforts to conceal the fashion house producer behind the internet sensation.

Yet there has been a global turn in the reception of this short film.

What is it about the commercialised idea of this short film that makes its supporters completely change their opinion? Are we really that afraid of being exposed to advertising?