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Simulating... Sprite

Posted: 07/22/09 04:44 PM ET

My name is Max Isaacson,

I directed a pair of fake Sprite commercials, which went viral over the past five days. To say that this whole fiasco got out of hand is something of an understatement. I'm honestly astounded at how quickly this all spiraled into a serious whirlwind of assumptions, misinformation, amusement, excitement, death threats, racism, outrage and a whole lot of giddy laughter from my father. It says a lot about blogger culture and Internet periodicals, namely that scandal and sizzle have more immediate import than research and fact checking. Not to say that I'm ungrateful for the publicity -- it's been more than I ever could have imagined. And it's not to say that nobody did any real digging around -- I did have a few people call them out and contact me -- but it was much more involved than just that.

At about 9:30am on Monday, the Huffington Post ran an article regarding one of my commercials, claiming that "according to reports" it was a real advertisement, banned in Germany. After a few comments questioning the validity of this report, the thread was updated citing Current TV as its source. The credibility lent to this hoax by a media outlet such as the Huffington Post -- a News site with a representative in the White House Press Corps -- was immeasurable. The fact that the ad was fake, and labeled as such in the description of the YouTube video, didn't seem to matter to anybody until the video had hundreds of thousands of views the world over. (On a side note, only Gawker and a French ad blog called Quiet Glover caught on from the get go.)

So, after over a million views in two days, plenty of name-calling from various commenters and bloggers, and a few uncomfortable moments, what have I learned? With a ridiculous idea and a little help from your friends, you can produce an ad, professional-looking enough, to fool the world for a day. Until the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later attitude of the Internet media is stemmed, this will not be the last hoax of its kind.

I am well aware that this "ad" was over-the-top, offensive, misogynistic and, in my opinion, funny. The point was to get a reaction, and in that regard I far exceeded my expectations. I have no regrets about making these spots but for all anybody knows I may not have. No one has met me face-to-face and there's been no need or request for me to verify my identity. It's all been based on trust -- thank you for that.