If it seems too good to be true on YouTube, then the video you’re watching probably isn’t real. This was once again proven by a recent hoax that went viral about paternity issues and international one-night stands.
The videos are a two-part series. In the first clip, a young woman who identifies herself as Natalie, talks about a visit to Australia from Paris that left her pregnant and with no contact info for the one-night stand who is now a father. She’s allegedly turning to YouTube to help her find her missing man.
There are some red flags in the video, like that it was monetized immediately, and feels rehearsed. Still, it racked up 1.8 million views in a few days. Before things got too out of hand, the title of the video was changed to “I FOUND HIM!!!!!!!!!!!! check my new video to see.” When users click to the new video “Natalie” is replaced by an older man who reveals it was all a social media marketing hoax to promote Holiday Mooloolaba, the site of the alleged tryst that left her pregnant.
Andy Sellar admits immediately that it was all a social media viral video attempting to get a vacation spot on the map. Sellar runs Sunny Coast Social Media, which he describes as a company that does viral videos for small businesses. At first he apologizes for the hoax and says he knows a lot of people are going to be upset, but then promises they’ll be doing a lot more of these hoax videos in the future. Commenters are not impressed.
“Bad marketing,” wrote The Multi Channel. “I am now linked this company up to the word untrustworthy.”
“How exactly do you think this will generate any new business for you,” questioned another user. “I’m familiar with there’s no such thing as bad publicity but why would anyone think ‘gee they had me pretty good, I’ll definitely go to them from now on!'”
What’s most shocking is the pricing for Seller’s services are dirt cheap. Facebook design and management are only $225 each. To think Holiday Mooloolaba spent so little to have their business name tarnished by a shady viral video.
Screengrab via Natalie Amyot/YouTube