This is just awesome. The Facebook tattoo video, which I wrote about here yesterday as part of a “videos that become news” article, turns out to be an elaborate fake. A viral marketing video. It’s nothing but a hoax. And what a wonderful hoax it was–and successful! The video has 1.6 million views as of this writing, and it’s barely a week old. 

The Facebook Tattoo Video Hoax

It’s been revealed that the tattoo wasn’t actually permanent, but rather it was some kind of temporary thing that disappears after a few days–no doubt it’s already gone. The tattoo artist, Dex Moelker, will surely get a higher profile from this whole thing, though I have so little knowledge of that industry that I can’t say how much it will mean to her in terms of profit or new customers.

No, the real “advertiser” here is Pretty Social. Who’s that, you ask? Well, they’re a company that lets you buy gifts and trinkets printed with… wait for it… your Facebook friends’ faces. In the original video, the company is specifically thanked, and they’re listed as the “tattoo designer” in the video’s description.

Here’s the original clip in case you missed it:

Why Did The Hoax Work?

Viral hoax videos work best when they are squarely on the line between being incredible and being hard to believe. On the one hand, most viewers were critical of the girl, having a hard time understanding why anyone would get such a silly tattoo–and such a big one, covering the entire arm. On the other hand, the clip is completely believable, because honestly… people tattoo unthinkably weird crap on their bodies every day.

Have you ever seen one of those tattoo-parlor reality shows on cable? Watch just one episode and you’ll realize that there’s very little limit to what some people are willing to permanently ink on their bodies. There are entire Tumblr sites devoted to photos of ridiculous tattoos. So ultimately, even though viewers largely thought this woman was crazy, they didn’t have any trouble buying the fact that the tattoo was real.

Over the past few days, the video has received hundreds and hundreds of mentions on mainstream news sites, blogs, and everything in between. It fooled nearly everyone, and it did so because it was a perfectly executed concept intended to be believable and unbelievable all at the same time. In the end, for relatively little cost, Pretty Social was able to use an extreme example to demonstrate their service, and got it in front of the eyes of millions. That kind of thing could put a business on the map, no?