YouTube Romeo, Adland Slickster or Both? You Decide

Creator of Viral Love Letter Wears His (Self-Promoting) Heart on His Sleeve

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Rupal Parekh
Rupal Parekh
What is love in the digital age? Self-promotional and unoriginal, judging by this video uploaded to YouTube three days ago by one Walter C. May. Right about now, several of my gullible friends -- bonafide ones and social-network buddies alike -- are tweeting about this viral love letter with oohs and awws, and awarding it likes on Facebook. It's been posted on Gizmodo and was mentioned on Twitter by Katy Perry yesterday.

In an interview with the Village Voice, Mr. May said he created the video with the help of his friends, a band called The Daylights, to show his girlfriend how much he loves her. The couple has lived in Los Angeles, but now she is enrolled in an MBA program at Duke University that will take her to the opposite coast for the next two years. He told the Voice he wants her to find it organically, and hopes "it will be a nice Christmas-y surprise."

Sounds like a real sap, right? Whether Mr. May truly has romance coursing through his veins, only those who know him could say, but one thing's for sure, he's no earnest Romeo. He's a slick commercial and video music director, per his website,

He claims to have done commercial work for brands like Liberty Mutual, Bacardi, Lincoln, Bombay Gin, EA Sports, Domino's Pizza, Chevrolet and Snickers. Oh and that Katy Perry tweet? Not random. He has worked with her too. Says Mr. May's website: "Recently, he has been exploring his director's hat by working with new major label and indie acts such as Katy Perry, The Jonas Brothers, Mickey Avalon, Drake Bell, Andy Davis and The Daylights."

In other words, the band that penned the love letter to Mr. May's girlfriend also pays his bills. Here's one of the videos Mr. May has worked on for the group.

Now, from the perspective of the band, this was probably a pretty smart way to go. It's virtually free, insta-publicity. From the perspective of his girlfriend, though, maybe not so smart.

"I didn't want to go overboard," Mr. May told the Voice, noting that he wanted to show his beloved that "the thought really does count."

Indeed, it does. And in this case it turns out that the thought wasn't his -- it was one that was already used in this 30-second advert that Buenos Aires-based agency Madre did for Nextel this summer. It's also been used by a band called the SoftLightes, three years ago.

UPDATE: Walter May himself has an opinion in this debate. He writes: Thanks for having an interest enough to write an article. I have been working in advertising for the past 10 years and I am currently the "In-House" director and editor at Los Angeles-based 72andSunny. The video was truly made for my girlfriend. All the lyrics are personal to us. It may sound funny to you, but my friends love and care for each other tremendously. I have made videos on my own dime for my roommates, the Daylights, because I believe in them. They helped me write the song as a payback for all I have done for them. I look at myself as a romantic and as a professional and sometimes the two overlap. I hope this clears up any questions you may have on my intentions for making the video. Thanks again for the article.

Rupal Parekh is Ad Age's agency editor.
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