Brilliant Hoax, Marketing Genius, or UGC Savant?
Whatever ends up happening with “<a href="http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=lonelygirl15
“>lonelygirl15” it will be a fascinating study of online marketing prowess in the nascent world of user generated content (UGC) and social-media. If you’ve become a fan of YouTube as I have then you probably know who she is. Her two-minute video from last week has been viewed over half a million times. Over 2000 comments have been left about it. In the past two months her 24 “episodes” have been watched millions of times. By any measure, lonelygirl15 is a media star.
Her videos chronicle a 15 year-old life complete with the friend who wants to be more than friends, being home schooled, questioning religion and hating her strict parents. All really normal stuff that anyone in YouTube’s demographic sweet spot can relate to. Clearly with the audience she has attained plenty do relate and don’t find much unusual at all. In fact that’s all part of the attraction.
However, as you watch the videos a few things that are unusual become very apparent. The resolution quality of the video is outstanding. The lighting in her bedroom, where most everything takes place, is perfect. The photography uses proportion to great effect. Add to this editing skills that are above even a professional level, multiple camera angles, a nice soundtrack edited into just the right spots, a biography and a subject that look right out of central casting and one will immediately question as I did, is this the work of a 15 year old girl? In fact, questioning the validity to this has started to pick up some chatter in the comments of her videos, a site devoted to her growing fandom, the NYTimes blog and others.
One thing is for certain. One of three scenarios will take place, all incredibly interesting. If she is real, and she has made these clips herself (or with her friend Daniel who she claims is the video genius) she has immediately mastered the genre and her future in it is secure. If it’s just a fraud then this is the first great hoax of the UGC era and hundreds of thousands of people will need to reassess their perspective of the medium. If it’s fake for commercial reasons (speculation has run in the comments and blogosphere that this is a marketing ploy for a new show or movie) then it is viral marketing genius that they could get away with this for over two months and generate so much low cost exposure and publicity for their endeavor.
UPDATE 9/08: LA Times has more info and a link from lonelygirl15 to Creative Artist Agency