Cannes Lions case study: Edgy ‘First Kiss’ viral gets hearts racing with subtle branding

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This ad for clothes brand Wren took the web by storm back in March, with its strange mix of cringe-worthy and heart-warming first kisses between strangers– coming close to winning 2014’s Cannes Lions Grand Prix award. This case study looks at the secret to the viral ads success, despite its almost non-existent branding.

L.A. fashion label Wren Studio debuted an edgy video featuring strangers meeting each other for the first time, then being asked to kiss.

The cast has some famous names, including musicians, actors and models, all wearing the fashion brand's clothing as they nervously kiss an complete stranger.

The video, created by popular YouTube producer Tatia Pilieva, helped foster a powerful emotional connection to the brand for consumers.

But the brand itself was relegated to near obscurity as most consumers did not realise the video was a clothing advertisement for the company’s 2014 fall line. “Wren presents” in the video’s opening is so small and fades in and out so quickly as to go unnoticed.

But the subtlety paid off: the YouTube video was been viewed over 84 million times (398,000 likes), at the time of this writing. The 96,000 subscribers to the video’s director pale in comparison to its views — and the highly popular Tatia Pilieva had many YouTube subscribers before she produced “First Kiss.”

Wren got 516 retweets at time of writing (see Tweet below).

If Wren had played a bigger and more explicit role upfront, the power and experience of the story could have been diluted as viewers would have been more cynical about the authenticity of the subjects.

Great brands are built by many positive moments of interaction that come together to form a consistent story and experience. First Kiss is a brilliant example of curating and capturing such moments in a category leading move to do something different.

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