A consequence of the viral marketing trend (and many other online advertising strategies) — how to distinguish between communication and manipulation: Mystery Fuels Huge Popularity of Web’s Lonelygirl15 - pdf
Lonelygirl15 appears to be an innocent, home-schooled 16-year-old, pouring her heart out for her video camera in the privacy of her bedroom. But since May, her brief posts on the video-sharing site YouTube and the social networking hub MySpace have launched a Web mystery eagerly followed by her million-plus viewers: Who is this sheltered ingenue who calls herself “Bree,” and is she in some sort of danger â€” or, worse, the tool of some giant marketing machine?
[...] CAA spokesman Michael Mand said he “could neither confirm nor deny” that the agency is representing whoever is behind the 27 video posts. (Other talent agencies and production companies contacted by The Times denied any connection.)
As to horror film rumors, calls made to several studios found no such plans â€” but plenty of fascination for the way in which a Hollywood-ready cultural phenomenon has been built from a grass-roots Web platform. Lonelygirl15, many say, is the next-generation “Blair Witch Project,” using interactive forms of storytelling that, like the 1999 hit, tries to trick an audience into thinking it’s true.
Indeed, if a commercial project does result, lonelygirl15 may prove to be a model of how to harness a groundswell created on seemingly populist, user-driven websites such as YouTube and MySpace.
Later: some online revelations? apophenia’s take and a note
Later (Sep 9) — a revelation — Lonelygirl15’s revelation: It’s all just part of the show - pdf
The latest confession to stun the entertainment world is an unusual one: “We are filmmakers.”
The team behind the lonelygirl15 YouTube mystery has come forward, claiming that lonelygirl15 is part of their “show” and thanking their fans effusively for tuning in to “the birth of a new art form.” They are not, they insisted, “a big corporation.”
Later: more from the NYTimes — Well, It Turns Out That Lonelygirl Really Wasnâ€™t
Even later (2006 Sept 16): Advertising: Trying to Figure Out How Much Tease Is Too Much; and WaPo (2006 Sep 17) — The Lessons of ‘Lonelygirl’: We Can Be Fooled, And We Probably Don’t Care - pdf