The argument over the colour of a dress worn to a Scottish wedding this week has been the subject of much debate on the internet, but does the colour of the garment even matter? I don't think so.
At the wedding itself, singer Caitlin McNeill took a photo of the dress which confirmed, in her mind at least, that the dress was indeed black and blue. She shared it on her Tumblr blog, a fan page dedicated to Sarah Weichel. Weichel is a talent manager who represents several YouTubers including Hannah Hart. The people behind the dress, Roman Originals, also tweeted to confirm that the dress was indeed black and blue, but due to speculation they're now considering manufacturing it in white and gold too.
But as ever, that rational conclusion was not enough for the internet and social media began sharing the image across all platforms encouraging users to join team Black & Blue or team White & Gold. Taylor Swift was pro Black & Blue whilst Kim Kardashian was a staunch supporter of White & Gold. Vogue magazine weighed in with their view, The Independent turned to science writing an article to prove that we're all wired to see different colours due their varying wavelengths in different light. The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Telegraph all ran stories insisting that social media had been turned into "two warring tribes" by the picture and using phrases like "the picture that almost broke the internet".
And that's exactly why the colour of the dress doesn't matter. It could be any number of colour combinations, it probably looks different to someone who's colour blind, it can be explained away by any number of scientists or pantone colour charts. It really doesn't matter to anyone what colour the dress is. What does matter, and what people in my line of business should be taking note of, is how with the correct prompts, use of hashtags and celebrity endorsements; it's relatively easy to capture the imagination of a massive audience and leverage celebrities to get them to do your job for you.
What matters is that #TheDress is now trending worldwide with an estimated 45.9 million views per hour and over 21,000 retweets per hour. What matters is that if you can catch the imagination of the internet, then you can turn a small, harmless story from a tiny little island in Scotland into an international viral sensation. That any product, love it or hate it, can get the marketing it needs to be successful with a few very subtle nudges that send ripples out across the wider web. Because that's all the internet is, a giant pond with an awful lot of people swimming in it, all trying to make waves. Those swimmers are also hungry to belong, eager to engage and respond to clever content and get behind a cause. If enough people make enough of a splash, then the media takes notice and real waves are made.
It doesn't matter what colour the dress is. It only matters that the story is told, engaged with and shared.