“The Dress” shows wonders of modern technology and marketing


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Katlynn Whitaker, Photography/Asst. Design Editor

Who could have imagined that a picture of a dress could cause a global media phenomenon?

Not only did it “melt the Internet” according to The New York Times, but it served as fuel for advertising campaigns.

For those ignoring social media, here’s a quick recap. Caitlin McNeill, a.k.a. Tumblr-user “swiked,” posted a photo of her friend’s mother’s dress onto her blog. She confirmed that the dress was blue with black details, but when she took a picture of it some people saw gold and white instead. Confused by this, Caitlin posted the photo on Tumblr to see what other bloggers thought.

Who would have thought that she would receive opinions from millions of viewers from around the world, even those of celebrities.

I first saw this photo when I was browsing BuzzFeed one night, but every time I checked my phone the article was popping up on different social media sites.

Within a half hour, my news feed on Facebook was filled with people’s opinions on what colors they saw in the dress. The night of the viral outrage, the world was consumed by the mystery of this dress, dubbed #thedress by Twitter (I know, original).

Finally, scientists intervened and concluded that people saw different colors due to the way their eyes perceive light. The dress was black and blue, but some people saw it as white and gold because the photo looked washed out to them. I’m not very good at explaining the scientific side of things, but Jonathan Corum of The New York Times wrote a great explanation of how we see light and color.

Bottom line, it is a cool optical illusion, so cancel your panic-stricken eye appointments now. But for me, the most fascinating part of this whole saga was how companies were using the dress debates to their marketing advantage.

Coca-Cola tweeted that the dress “might look better in red and white.” Dunkin’ Donuts featured two donuts on their Twitter page, one with blue and black frosting, the other with white and gold frosting. They added that either way the donuts “still taste delicious.”

Some companies used the dress to discuss important issues like discrimination. The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted a picture with the caption: “We all see the world differently. We should not be discriminated against because of our beliefs.”

What started as a simple Tumblr post became a viral multipurpose symbol that companies across the globe took advantage of. Whether the motivation was to be on top of the latest trends, or prove a point about discrimination, the global marketplace thrived upon this medium of advertising that cost them little time and effort. This shows that today’s modern technology is a breeding ground for new ideas and opportunities to create a global community.

So whether the world is still in denial, awe, or disgust with the amount of attention this viral dress has received,it serves as a clear example of how social media allows for the simplest of ideas to spread like wildfire.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take a picture of my heels. They look pink in certain lights, and I want to see what my friends on Facebook think. Maybe I’ll become the next spokeswoman for Famous Footwear.

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