First and foremost, just in case we have caught anybody who hasn’t seen the picture yet – What colour is this dress?

Whatever colour you think it is, go and ask some other people. You may notice some difference in opinion, and become convinced that those who see it differently are trying to wind you up. But they aren’t – whereas some people see the true colour of black and blue, others see the dress as white and gold.

So what gives? Well, to begin with, here is the science. It is all to do with the way your eyes communicate the image to your brain, as this video explains.

So while the people who see it as black and blue are “right”, those who see it as white and gold aren’t “wrong”.

So why are we talking about it? Well, here are some eye opening statistics.

The Dress Share Chart

Simply put, this one dress has been a viral sensation over the past week. True lighting in a bottle. Even the BBC felt compelled to cover it, sending out a report to quiz the public by pushing a picture of it into their face.

That video includes a brief interview with the dress designer Michele Bastock, who is clearly as surprised and confused about how big this story has got as we are.

The Dress Maker

See?

So this obviously wasn’t a PR stunt. In fact, it’s the type of story all advertisers dream of in today’s society. So why exactly did it spread as far and wide as it did? Well, it has a few key factors that all viral hits have to have.

Simplicity

The rise and rise of social mediums based upon a short attention span (Twitter’s 140 characters, Vine’s 6 second videos, Snapchats “blink and you’ll miss it” photos) mean that the simpler the content, the more likely it is to spread. This time around, most Tweet’s would simply be a picture of the dress, followed by “What colour is this dress? #TheDress”. Not only is that lighting quick to create, but also easily shareable.

Plus, the concept is very easy to translate. It requires no cultural knowledge, or knowledge of fashion, photography or the science behind vision. As long as you know what colours are, you can join in!

Quick, strong response

Further helping matters is how quick a response the people who engage with it can generate. If one person spots it in the office, they can show it to everybody quickly, as happened here at Bootcamp Media (we were evenly split between the two colours). And the response are strong – you’ll be so utterly convinced that it is one colour, and others will be utterly convinced it is the other. The debate rages on the small scale, and that inevitably escalates until the entire world is locked into a two sided battle – you’re either #TeamBlueAndBlack, or #TeamWhiteAndGold.

Adaptability

How does a viral hit become a viral phenomenon? When it becomes a meme, of course! #TheDress lends itself to adaptability. Here are just a few examples of memes that have sprung up in the past week.

What colour is this cat? (It's a chicken)

Civil War

Blue and Black Power Ranger

It has already led to some bad life choices. . .

#TheDress Tattoo

And, of course, it has reached the peak of any viral hit – a song:

So now it should be clear to you why this has dominated your weekend’s social media feeds. It will likely fade into obscurity in a few weeks, popping back up occasionally before being thrown out completely in 2015 year-end wrap up shows in the “remember this?!” segments. But the impact of #TheDress will stand for a while as the textbook example of a viral sensation. If only advertisers could harness this power!

#TheDress in a shop window

Or just piggy back on it entirely!

 

Image Credits:

Cat/Chicken: http://www.bitchyf.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/TheDress-meme-7.jpg

Civil War: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B-0Ytl-UYAEsoz3.jpg

Power Rangers: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/02/27/262609F100000578-2971409-image-a-30_1425041124556.jpg

Tattoo: http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2133570!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/

article_970/article-tattoo-0302.jpg

#TheDress: http://www.ohio.com/polopoly_fs/1.570684.1425096265!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/

landscape_500/dress28cut-02.jpg