More Bridezilla: Viral Fame, the Day After

If there’s a downside to unexpectedly exploding onto the viral video scene, it’s that you’re probably not ready to handle your fame. Unless you’re a marketing firm, an ad agency, or an experienced auteur, you’re likely to find yourself scrambling to field phone calls, answer e-mails, and generally get your story straight for the media. Confusion begets confusion, and soon enough nobody involved knows what’s what. Just ask Andrew Struthers, who found himself at the mercy of YouTube, Comedy Central, and some Irish guy who pilfered his hit video.

The situation gets more confusing when the video in question is a hoax. Such was the case with the vid Bridezilla which, in addition to being fiction masquerading as a real-life scene, was claimed after its discovery by two different parties. The video’s origin was soon cleared up when the creators appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America. But that wasn’t the end of the story for me.

On Monday evening I received an e-mail from someone purporting to be a friend of Ingrid Haas, the woman who filmed the video. My correspondent said that Haas was launching a media company at bridezillamedia.com, and that I was the only person he had informed. How? He found me on Google. Why? Haas and her friends were appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live the next day, and he wanted to get the word out.

Haas, he said, was starting her own company, and her friends weren’t involved. I visited the site which, not to be unkind, didn’t look like a legit business. I suspected a scam. After all, the original video was a hoax, and my correspondent’s e-mail address was from a Canadian university. Were they trying to keep the gag going? [1]

Eventually, my correspondent put me in touch with Haas. But when I called Haas, she gave me a different story. She said she wasn’t considering a solo venture, that all the girls were sticking together, and that she wasn’t really ready to publicize the site. OK, I said, but who’s the guy e-mailing me? He’s a friend in law school, she said, who had offered to make a website in case she started a company.

At which point I sighed audibly into the phone.

So you see the problem here. Nobody was prepared for the clip to go viral. Not Haas, not Sunsilk, and not the fella who e-mailed me. And while there hasn’t been any adverse effects from the confusion — on the contrary, Haas and company were poised on ABC, and I have no doubt they’ll find new work — I think the story above is fair warning to anyone planning a viral video. Get your stories straight ahead of time. Hire a marketing firm if need be. Don’t confuse us lowly reporters. We ain’t that smart. And in exchange, I promise to stop being so suspicious of Canadians.

[1] At this point, as I was trying to determine the site’s registration, I mistyped the URL into Netsol’s WHOIS service and mistakenly thought the site was registered to a different company. My apologies for anyone who got caught up in my mistake.

Steve Bryant is a New York-based writer. His work can also be found on the Reel Pop blog.

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