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Art or Advertising?
By: Alexander Villeneuve
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Wren is a small clothing company that you've probably never heard of before, but after last week, there is a good chance that you've seen their work and don't even know it.  Their video, "First Kiss," recently became the latest YouTube sensation, racking up fast 42 million views and is now approaching 61 million views. The artistic film features 20 strangers who meet for the first time and then kiss

First Kiss is a truly a beautiful video. Its black-and-white simplicity sweeps an ever-expanding audience off their feet and convinces them of an ideology of love at first sight.

According to Wren's owner Tatia Pilieva, the video “felt so real and sincere" as audiences witness the strangers "shed all these layers in front of our eyes and in front of the cameras." This sentiment really resonates, as the innocence of watching nervous strangers before they kiss reminds us of our own first kisses. 

However, it didn't take long for some of that audience to lose their innocence with "First Kiss. The video was proclaimed a "fake" when it was discovered that models were used to make the video and that Wren clothing is featured in it. Suddenly, First Kiss appeared as something a lot less pure; it felt like advertising.     

I think it's an interesting debate whether or not First Kiss is actually a good advertisement. It's a fantastic advertisement from the standpoint of return on investment; 61 million views and counting with a reported $1,300 budget. And it's only natural that this led to a "significant bump" in exposure and sales, the significance of which cannot be understated at a four-person company. 

On the other hand, while First Kiss momentarily catapulted Wren to the top of mind for many, the brand and its clothing are barely even bit actors in the video. The brand's only mention is at the very beginning of the three-minute film as "Wren presents" flashes on the screen while also never explicitly saying who designed the clothes. Thus, Wren seems to make the conscience decision to downplay the very brand that they're trying to establish in order to achieve the purity necessary to create such an appealing video. That fact surely obfuscates the high-efficiency of their $1,300 investment as it's difficult to derive brand equity from a video with so little actual branding. It's similar to hitting a home run to the moon but only getting to second base.   

Ultimately, I believe the real victory for Wren is still to come. First Kiss may not have done much to build a brand by itself, but I presume will drive the more opportunities to do so than ever before...which is the whole point, after all.

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About the Author

Alexander Villeneuve loves to hear from readers. It makes him feel important, so please contact him on Twitter or his blog.

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