Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gaga over Maria

This week, media (mainstream and new, Winnipeg and international) fell in love with 10-year-old Winnipegger Maria Aragon.

This video was first posted to YouTube on February 16th, and as CBC News reports, went from 3,100 hits to over 2 million within 24 hours, after Lady Gaga herself tweeted how much she loved it.

Shortly after the viral video came mainstream media coverage, from the Winnipeg Free Press to The Huffington Post.

Local radio station Hot 103 brought Maria in studio on Thursday, where she chatted with Lady Gaga herself -- and viewership of that video went wild, too.

This is a great social media story. Perez Hilton reportedy sent Lady Gaga the link to Maria's video on YouTube; Lady Gaga liked it, and tweeted it to her 8 million followers, unleashing a wave of attention little Maria likely never expected.

Maria Aragon is a talented (and adorable) little girl -- and would have been without YouTube, Twitter, and the always hungry 24/7 media beast. But with all those things, she's talented, adorable, and a superstar... even if the latter is only for a local news cycle or two.

As for Lady Gaga...

With that little-girl's-dream fulfilling phone call on Thursday (recorded for posterity and shared online for all to enjoy), Lady Gaga won some hearts. With her invitation for Maria to sing with her on stage in Toronto a few months from now, she won a few more (and will win even more, I'm sure, at that show). And while she was at it, she got people (in this town, anyway) to stop talking about how much the new single sounds like Madonna's Express Yourself for a while.

Not bad, for 140 characters' work!

I'm not at all suggesting Lady Gaga's tweet was a publicity stunt; and even if you're suspicious of her motivations in agreeing to the phone call with Maria, I don't think you can deny that she seemed genuine, and that she absolutely thrilled that little girl.

But with that said, Maria's video does give us an excellent (and heartwarming) example of the impact social media can have in terms of publicity, given the right story.


  1. This is such an amazing and heartwarming story. Do you think since social media has arrived on the PR map, there has been an increase in these "15-minute-fame" cases? Is that all it takes, for a celebrity to tweet something about you, for you to become an instant sensation?

  2. Likely yes, and not entirely!

    Yes to the first question, about an increase in 15-minute fame cases as a result of social media (just think about Ted Williams, the "homeless man with the golden voice").

    But "not entirely" to the second one, about a celebrity tweet being all it takes: I think most of the time, an "instant sensation" will also need more of the elements that make stories newsworthy.

    In Maria's case, as I see it:

    - timeliness (the single is in the news because it's new, there's some controversy around it, and it's hugely popular)
    - novelty (completely non-showbiz kid gets attention of one of the most showbiz-zy artists around, by singing a highly produced song beautifully, using only her keyboard at home)
    - prominence/celebrity (Lady Gaga herself)
    - human interest (hard to find a story warmer and fuzzier than this!)
    - proximity (in Winnipeg, at least, local girl impresses major international superstar)

    Also, while the tweet set it off, I don't think the story would have had nearly the legs without the phone call at Hot 103 -- because that gave us an unexpected side of Lady Gaga, which is newsworthy in and of itself given her image and her fame.

  3. I can't imagine how this young girl's world has been touched by having a personal connection with Lady Gaga. Hopefully Maria's 15 minutes will stretch to a half-hour.

    I love seeing raw talent rewarded. The beauty of this story is that the outcome was unexpected, and it grew to remarkable heights.

    Pass the Kleenex box...

  4. Who knows - didn't young Mr. Bieber get "discovered" on YouTube, too? :o)