#TheDress — A Social Media Director and Creative Director Weigh in on the Viral Explosion | Titan Web Marketing Solutions

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#TheDress — A Social Media Director and Creative Director Weigh in on the Viral Explosion

That dress. That frustrating dress.

As the focus of 95% of today’s conversations, this dress has sparked quite the debate in our office and across the nation. Since Titan Web Marketing Solutions is a digital marketing agency, naturally we all saw this debate from our various specializations/sides.

Our Social Media Director and Creative Director each weighed in with their personal logic, opinions, and thoughts.

Social Media

Social media is about conversation.

As everyone knows, a war exploded on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other networks about a simple little dress. An image of a poorly photographed dress that some people reported seeing as blue and black, while others saw white and gold was posted online and incited a worldwide debate.

As someone who spends endless hours marketing people and businesses on social media networks, I honestly wish I had posted this photo. Roman, the dress retailer, saw near a 347% increase in sales and tons of international exposure from this frustrating debate.

While the post was not orchestrated by the company, they are capitalizing on the attention by meeting with news stations, responding to questions, and even changing their homepage to feature #TheDress. This has got to be a dream come true for them!

What can we learn about social media from this crazy dress debate?

So much.

First of all, controversy makes excellent content, especially when it’s not overly sensitive material. Since the original post asked for opinions, countless people shared the image asking for friends’ opinions. Plus, organizations such as Buzzfeed and other entertainment networks created polls, articles, and infographics all based on the dress. News networks picked up the story and interviewed citizens, vision experts, and the company that sells the dress. NBC News reported that there were over 800,000 tweets with the hashtag #TheDress. We’re all sick of hearing about this stupid dress by now.

But we’re not done yet. Think about what you did when you saw this dress and the discussion. Most likely, you voiced your opinion. Whether you just showed the image to your friends in person and sparked conversation or shared it on every single social network you own; it was hard to resist getting involved.

Why? Because you saw something concrete (in your eyes) and you felt compelled to either justify your experience or feel comforted that others were seeing the same thing you were. You were also probably interested in WHY people were seeing it differently.

This post combined two human instincts into one. Curiosity and a desire to be heard/voice your opinion. This is a formula for success when planning out content to go viral.

Even we couldn’t resist. We took an office poll to see if we were just as divided as the rest of the world. It turns out – we are.

Team White and Gold: 4  (two Interns, Search Director, and a Developer)

Team Black and Blue: 4 (Communications Director, 2 Designers, and a Developer/Designer)

Team Who Knows?: 3 (Creative Director- saw blue and gold, Content Director – initially saw white and gold and now sees black and blue, Search Specialist – sees both depending on image size and lighting.)

Creative Direction


There’s a lot of speculation as to why some people say white and some say blue. Some people (who aren’t optometrists) are saying that it’s the cones and rods in your eyes that causes you to see color differently. I’ve even seen the ridiculous explanation from BradTheLadLong that states, “Scientists have proven that when there is a big event in your life that is having a negative effect on you, your sighting of colors may vary and that is why some people are seeing black and blue.” And that basically, if your mood changes, so will the dress’s colors.

I’m here to tell you that’s all crap. All of it.

It’s not about whether you’re colorblind or not. It’s all about how your brain is translating the information your eyes see.


The real explanation goes back to color theory and lighting. 

Have you ever noticed that stark fluorescent lights put out a bluish light? Your eyes see the color, but your brain thinks “This is a white piece of paper so even though it has a slight hint of blue, it’s actually white.” It automatically color corrects the information around you.

#TheDress Was a Huge Online Debate

For example, the door in my office. The sky is clear today, so it’s casting a blue light through my window. Therefore, the door appears slightly bluish. My overhead light casts a slight yellow color, so the pad on my desk appears yellow-y. However, you and your over-perceptive brain have already concluded that both the door and the paper are white.

Your brain corrected the color. You know it’s white, I know it’s white.

So how does this all correlate to that dreaded dress? 

the dress 2

Your brain sees the dress and thinks that it’s in shadow, so it must be a white dress in shade, much like my door. However, your brain is not taking into account that this dress is, in fact, not in the shade.

There are at least two points of light in this photo: one behind that ugly dress and one on the dress from above-left. Because the light behind the dress is so incredibly bright, you think it’s the only source of light and that it’s casting a shadow on the dress. So it must be a white dress in the shade.

But take a second and force your brain to think, “what is a true, pure white in this photo?” I have found that the fabric to the left of the dress is the only true white on the same plane as the dress. This is a white point that’s not in shade, and since there is visual detail it’s not over-exposed like the light behind it. If that is truly white, then the dress cannot also be white.

the dress 3

What am I really trying to say?

the dress 4

In reality, that dress is blue with black lace. But in this picture, it appears to be either. In fact, if we’re strictly going off of this picture and not “what is real white,” and “where is the light source coming from” then no one is right. It’s a light slate-bluish-purplish gray color with ugly brown lace.

Whether you think from a social media aspect, a creative focus, or even a non-bias stance, we can all agree on one thing — we’ve had enough of this dress!