Discrete Advertising: “First Kiss” a New Trend?


A YouTube video entitled “First Kiss” had 20+ shares on my Facebook newsfeed the week of its release on March 10. This video had over 42 million views on YouTube within the first 48 hours it was on the web. Many comments I saw reflected on how creative the piece was and the uniqueness and “cool factor” of the film. It was well produced, and claimed to show 20 random strangers off the street, put in front of a camera, and asked to kiss passionately in front of the camera. The black-and-white video seemed to have been produced for the creative, artistic element it shared with viewers. It was a unique experience to watch 20 strangers kiss. However, news got out – this work of art was actually an advertisement, and these random strangers off the street were actually actors and models who were paid to kiss on camera.

This advertisement, commissioned by Melissa Coker, the founder and creative director of a clothing company called Wren, was designed to showcase her clothing line’s fall collection. The ad also had many parodies made of it, including “First Handjob” , “First Sniff” (a dog version), “Real First Kiss”, and more that can be found on this Buzzfeed article. After the news broke that this artsy video was actually an ad, some people were mad. Personally, I questioned the ethics of this situation.

While Wren did note that they produced the video, they did not disclose who they were. That alone is an interesting angle to think about – should it be necessary in advertising to make it clear who your company is when you are creating an advertisement? Another aspect I thought about was that the company told viewers that the people in this video were strangers off the street, giving the illusion that they were not actors or models and were not getting paid for this but were just random normal people who agreed to be a part of this art project. Things like this are seen in TV ads as well though – testimonials and the “people on the street” you see on many commercials are actors and getting paid to participate in the ad. Other examples of these aspects in other advertisements helped me to come to terms with the ad more. At first I was annoyed and almost upset that I had been duped, but the more I thought about it, the more brilliant I realized it was.

According to the New York Times, Coker said there has been a significant bump in sales at Wren and the background song, “We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow” by Soko sold 10,000 copies in two days after the video was released. It turns out that incognito ad was actually really successful and I predict that many more companies will turn to this advertising strategy soon.



Bagg, A. (2014, March 13). A Definitive List of First Kiss Parodies. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/abagg/a-definitive-list-of-first-kiss-parodies

Koblin, J. (2014, March 13). A Kiss Is Just a Kiss, Unless It’s an Ad For A Clothing Company. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/business/media/a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-unless-its-an-ad-for-a-clothing-company.html?_r=2

PimmsGirl (2014, March 12). FIRST HANDJOB (First Kiss Parody) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAnjUhQvGi0w

Pllievia, T. (2014, March 10). FIRST KISS [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpbDHxCV29A

Welkombijeen (2014, March 12). The Real First Kiss [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc3DsD7RpMc

5 thoughts on “Discrete Advertising: “First Kiss” a New Trend?

  1. When I first found out this was actually “Advertising” i was extremely disappointed. Actually “disappointed” is an understatement. This shows how low advertisers are willing to sink just to “sell” a product. People genuinely believed this was some sort of amazing human interaction that was happening. No notice was given to the viewers that this was staged and in my eyes that is unethical lying.


  2. I had seen a lot of people sharing this but I had never bothered to watch, I just did and It was certainty interesting and unique. Who cares if it was an ad, everything is these days.


  3. Yeah, this was all over my newsfeed for two days strong. I watched it, and I liked it but never once thought it could be an advertisement. I think this idea for a video (advertisement or not) was really interesting to watch, it held my attention and that is tough to do when I am online. I kind of wish most advertisements were as discrete and enjoyable to watch.


  4. This makes me so sad! When I originally saw this video, I thought it was so sweet, interesting, and artistic. I like your point about “questioning the ethics” of this. The video specifically states that they asked strangers to kiss, which while these actors may not have known each other, it is still frustrating that they were “acting” and not being spontaneous like the ad suggested.


  5. This video was recreated by a company in Denmark as a simple video, not an advertisement. I actually found it less awkward when the strangers shared a genuine experience. That being said, I think the trend that this video plays off of, anti-advertising or ads that do not really make sense, is successful. The video’s popularity speaks for the company, yet it doesn’t really explain the brand well.


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