Posing as a teenager making an amateur video while confined to her room by overly religious parents, Jessica Rose Lee burst out of YouTube's daily flow of consumer-generated slush to become a cultlike national celebrity known as LonelyGirl15.
The YouTube videos were designed to appear as if a gently rebellious and quite precocious young girl was secretly talking to the entire world through her computer, while, just a door away, her strict parents sat smugly in the belief that their daughter had been firmly grounded. It seemed a dramatic and compelling real-life story that ultimate drew a large viral audience of teenagers. But professionals soon noted that, despite its filmed-in-my-bedroom look, LonelyGirl15's video was as slick as it was consistent in its pacing and editing. And the young teen herself was able to create a thematically coherent storyline through each of her appearances. Last week the whole thing was revealed as a scripted hoax.
Ms. Rose is an actress who has studied at the New York Film Academy and was hired to do the viral videos as part of an advance guerilla promotion for an unnamed movie. The incident is the latest in which marketing communications professionals have invested significant amounts of their time, skills and money to create fictional events that have been presented to the online world as if they were factual. Some critics say that the practice is helping establish the online media space as a place where readers and viewers can't really trust what they see or hear, no matter how authentic it looks. Others argue that in the new upside-down world of consumer-controlled world of media and advertising, anything goes so long as it works.
What do you think?
My question to you: Do you think the YouTube LonelyGirl15 stunt was brilliant marketing or irresponsible deception? (comments welcome)