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It’s Laurel, Not Yanny.
May 22, 2018
26 February 2015 “the dress” went viral. Reading that might awaken memories of heated debates and friendship rifts - just kidding, kind of.
The debate of “the dress,” whether it is white and gold or blue and black, might seem like old news, but the great debate has re-emerged once again under a new name. Perhaps “names” would be more accurate.
A couple days ago I was scrolling through my newsfeed, the black hole of all time and productivity, to find captions left and right referring to a Yanny and Laurel. Who were they, and why were they the center of everyone’s inside jokes overnight? The two names are actually different interpretations of an online dictionary audio pronunciation for the word laurel (a group of shrubs and other greenery with glossy leaves).
When I came into work, Yanny and Laurel came up during our StrawberryFrog morning brainstorm - and of course, all the creatives and my fellow strategists already knew about it. We realized that the real question shouldn’t be what name do you hear, but why hasn’t this breed of viral content been tapped by the marketing industry? There are several videos and articles explaining why there are variations of what people hear and see with these memes that basically act as instruction manuals, so why not use them?
These viral sensations are disagreement virality movements, similar to what StrawberryFrog is all about. They get people to engage in conversation that can be considered provocative and ultimately create a movement - something that we do at our agency on a regular basis.
Point blank, people are passionate about being right. When it comes does to it people want to win, and they will show these clips and memes to as many people as possible until their opinion has the majority rule. These viral disputes have become soft news icebreakers that people feel comfortable engaging with rather than serious political news or hum drum small talk about the weather. Sensations like “Yanny and Laurel” burn bright and fast which makes them difficult to latch on to. But a true movement agency like StrawberryFrog doesn’t catch up, we launch the sensation ourselves. If we can (authentically) position ourselves at the center of next great debacle by creating our own version, we may not win any Lions, but the awareness, WOM, and organic press/impressions would accompany every water cooler chat and friendly debate of “what do you hear?”
-Ariana Sher, Business Strategy Intern