As they said on CNN, it’s the story of James Earl Jones meets Susan Boyle.
Who amongst us hasn’t seen the video?
The reporter from the Columbus Dispatch posted his video of a kind homesless man with a velvety voice on his newspaper’s website on January 3. The next day, Reddit.com (without permission from the newspaper) posted the video on YouTube; viewers posted it on Facebook, Twitter, forwarded it in emails and the video quickly hit marketing paydirt: it went viral.
(Ironically, the Columbus Dispatch filed a copyright claim against YouTube, since all of the video traffic was going to YouTube and not to their website. YouTube removed the video, along with millions of views and thousands of comments. Go figure. Read more here.)
By Thursday morning, Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice was being interviewed on the “Today Show” and had been offered so many jobs (including one by the Cleveland Cavaliers) that he’d had to hire somebody to field all of his offers. Following the “Today Show”, he went to Kraft Maccaroni & Cheese to record voiceovers for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, seen on ESPN on Sunday, January 9. (How’s that for a tie-in?) On Thursday night, Ted Williams was on the Jimmy Fallon show proclaiming a little man crush on Matt Lauer.
By Friday, he was back in the “Today Show” studio with his mother, with whom he was finally reunited and to whom he gave all of the credit for his positive outlook in life. His emotional reunion, in which Williams repeatedly calls out “Hi Mommy!” and hugs his overwhelmed mother, telling her “I got a haircut” was seen here:
What is it about a video that makes it go viral? Marketers across the country constantly puzzle over the mystery of what causes people to forward a video along to others… I’m sure the father of the little boys in the famous “Ouch! Charlie bit my finger!” video never imagined it would become a worldwide sensation. (268 million views!)
Something about the Ted Williams video caused people to pass it along. Matt Lauer said he thought the grace, dignity, and kindness which Williams demonstrates in the video caused people to care.
One thing I like about Ted Williams is his effort to be truly transparent. He doesn’t hide his history with drugs and alcohol or his brushes with the law. He tells us of the hassles involved in getting an I.D. and an affidavit of residency from a homeless shelter in Columbus, in order to get on an airplane. And he’s not afraid to admit that he’s working with a therapist to help with the overwhelming emotions that come from literally living on a street in Columbus one day, and being on the “Today Show” in New York two days later. He tells us how much he misses his mother and hopes he’ll see her soon. Williams is authentic and good-hearted, and not afraid to admit his flaws.
I also appreciate the genuineness of Mrs. Williams. As happy as she is to see her only son, and that he’s finally on the brink of getting himself off the street, it’s obvious she’s not 100% sure that he won’t go back to his old ways. She even admits on the “Today Show” that it really embarrassed her that he was on the streets holding up a sign asking for money.
I sincerely hope this all works out well for Ted Williams. But I think it’s fair to say that without social media, he’d likely be sleeping in homeless shelter in Columbus, Ohio tonight.
- Columbus Dispatch Orders YouTube To Take Down Golden Voice Video (dailybragger.com)
- Ted Williams Is the Luckiest Homeless Man Ever [Instafame] (gawker.com)