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Accidentally in Love

Fans of The Office will recognize the episode 'Niagara' or the one where Jim and Pam get married. This episode is special to me not so much because Jim and Pam finally get married since that was evident from the very first episode. There was no doubt about it. The thing that really struck me was the choreography of that scene at the chapel, which felt as warm as a hug to me. Chris Brown's Forever symbolized a journey encompassing many people, places, and circumstances in one song - it was wholesome and had so much more to it than just a cool wedding entry.

The thing I didn't realize is that there actually is a couple somewhere on the planet whose kids have watched The Office and said - "that's right out of our parents' wedding video." In 2007, a video called the JK wedding entrance dance went viral on YouTube. Kevin Heinz and Jillian Peterson broke all the rules of a traditional wedding procession and danced down the aisle with their entire wedding party. Since the couple's video was a heavy file, it ended up on Youtube, so they could easily share it with everyone. Views began pouring in almost immediately after the video was posted. At the time she went to bed, there were about 50 views. It had 100,000 by the time she woke up, and views kept climbing.

Soon, messages began flowing in. Calls were made by journalists to friends and family members in an attempt to contact them. A producer from the "Today" show asked if the party would recreate the dance live on TV if they came to New York City. The couple agreed. There was also the "Office" parody, that they were unaware of. They watched the episode live on TV when it aired.

The video on Youtube caught the attention of Sony which owned the rights to the song. They quickly added links to Apple Music and Amazon so people could buy the song from the Youtube page. Chris Brown’s label and publisher did not let this opportunity slip through their fingers. Not only did the song rise to No. 4 in the iTunes music store and No. 3 on Amazon, partly as a result of YouTube’s links, but Sony and Chris Brown also collect a share of the revenue from Google’s text ads on the page itself.

The power of things going viral is evident here. However, all viral things aren’t created equal.

One such instance was the case of Dave Carroll back in 2008, a musician who found his guitars thrown onto the baggage belt that transfers luggage into the plane. We all are well aware of how badly our luggage is treated even if it was covered with broken glass stickers. Since he recognised the guitar cases, he complained to the assistance on board the United Airlines flight. As predicted, he found a broken guitar and the airline didn’t seem to care.

A song he wrote in early 2009, "United Breaks Guitars," became a viral video that spurred United to update customer service training and its social media outreach practices. Despite the fact that they eventually compensated him $3,000 for the guitars, the damage was already done. A new viral anomaly emerged - one where negative occurrences could now reach people instantly, almost like entering a global courtroom.

Although some plan and dream of such fame and success, others find themselves in the middle of it by chance. Rebecca Black somehow stumbled upon YouTube around 2010. It was a place where everyone got to be creative and she watched everything. When she was just 12 or 13, she made a couple of videos, with her brother to experiment with the platform. But later, she went back to just watching. Soon after, she came across this company that would produce songs and make music videos for young talent. She wanted to experience music videos and decided to do it as an after school activity. It was only natural that she assumed the music video for "Friday" wouldn't get much attention. She was so wrong. The song caught on like the familiar ringtone of an iPhone on a crowded street.

Originally, viral stunts were accidents but are now planned events that capture audiences worldwide. They are contagious and marked the beginning of viral marketing. No matter whether you use a taped banana or a parody of an old Peloton ad, the idea remains to create unique opportunities that many people relate to while being profitable.

For all those who want to watch the wedding video, cause let's face it, you want to.


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