If you have watched the news or frequented any social media outlet since last Thursday, you might have seen or heard about #TheDress, a controversy that continues to baffle Planet Earth, pop culture enthusiasts, teenagers and even scientists.
The original story
A Scottish bride named Grace received a photo from her mother vetting dresses for her wedding. She told her mom that she liked the “white and gold” dress and her mother asked which one was she referring to, since there weren’t any white and gold dresses in the photos that she had sent. Grace then asked her husband-to-be what color was the dress and he replied black and blue. She thought they were playing a trick on her, so she asked her Facebook friends, people in her community and even “random people in bars.” No one could agree on the color of the dress! (Photo: Tumblr)
From there, Caitlin McNeill, one of her friends, decided that the Internet would settle the matter, a very millennial thing to do — we take our questions, debates, curiosities and inquiries to social media. She posted a photo of the dress on Tumblr (a microblogging social network, mostly image-based), with a caption asking people to help her figure out the color. From then on, the debate raged and spread like wildfire across social media platforms and mass media in general. You can watch the whole story on the Ellen DeGeneres Show below.
The whole debate went down last Thursday night. I was online on Facebook and Twitter at about 10pm MST, when my feeds started spewing out hashtags like #teamblueandblack and #teamwhiteandgold. Other people were perplexed at the way the dress seemed to change colors depending on which monitor or device they viewed it on.
At first, I thought it was a prank by one of the social platforms’ geniuses to gauge users’ personality types or gather some other kind of intel. Then, I started to agree with how some people felt outrage that this irrelevant debate was an “issue,” instead of paying attention to things that mattered, like, say, net neutrality.
But, after many days reflecting on the debate, I began to wonder: What was it about “the dress” that made it go viral?
By all accounts, it was a strange stroke of luck that led to its virality. One that the company that made the dress, Roman Originals, must be thankful for, because they have since seen a 560 percent increase in global sales, according to The Boston Globe (and that figure has increased since last Thursday). Just so you know, the dress sells for $77, Roman Originals has more than a hundred stores in the United Kingdom and they deliver worldwide.
Today, the company’s dirty laundry has been aired out again, according to some news outlets. Back in 2007, the British newspaper The Observer investigated the retailer’s manufacturers in India and found that a subcontractor was using child labor. Roman Originals immediately issued a statement, which we found via MotherJones, saying that the now famous black and blue dress is made in China and that it is “in no way affiliated with the 2007 supplier highlighted in the story from 8 years ago,” said Ian Johnson, the company’s creative manager, to MotherJones.
And, as you may have guessed, countless of articles have popped up on the Web about the marketing takeaways from this debate.