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Σάββατο, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2017

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? "Free Hugs"

juan-mann-free-hugs-sign


On June 30, 2004, a man by the pseudonym of "Juan Mann"
(pronounced, "one man") started offering free hugs to 
strangers on the streets of Sydney, Australia.
Six years later, he's a bona fide viral sensation on the web, 
but he's not much richer thanks to his Internet fame.
"My life had fallen apart and had nothing left to lose,
" Mann told us in an email. "I'd spent months living alone 
in a remote part of Australia, avoiding human contact 
where possible."
Mann's life fell apart after his parents divorced and his 
fiancee broke off their engagement. 
He was studying anthropology and communcations in 
London at the time. He moved back to his native Australia 
for a change of scenery.
After living in Australia for a few months, a friend tracked 
him down and dragged him to a party so he could 
"reconnect with society again." 
At the party, a complete stranger walked up to Mann and 
hugged him, and for that brief moment, Juan Mann didn't 
feel down about himself. After the short embrace, 
he realized then that a simple hug could do the trick to 
making other people feel better.
free-hugs-campaign-international-england
After the party, Juan Mann set out to a busy street 
in Sydney and held up a large poster board sign that 
read FREE HUGS
"The idea of standing in a busy city street holding up 
a sign offering to be friendly to a stranger scared me," 
Mann told us. "I thought that if I could offer Free Hugs, 
then I could do anything."
Months later, Juan Mann was still giving out hugs when 
he met Shimon Moore, who also held a sign in his hands 
– a shoe sale sign. 
The two sign-holders talked about Free Hugs.
The next week, Moore ditched his sign for a video camera, 
tagging along with Mann to film his embraces with strangers. 
Mann and Moore became close friends, even becoming 
housemates.
Mann's life was going well hanging out with Moore, 
and giving out hugs, but the good times didn't last. 
He stopped offering free hugs, because he had, 
"to spend more time caring for my blind grandfather 
while my grandmother lay dying in hospital," 
Mann told us. He was also apart from his new friend. 
Moore had left Australia, moving to Los Angeles to 
pursue a music career.
On the day of his grandmother's funeral, Mann returned 
home and found a DVD in the mailbox, with 
"This is who you are," written on it. 
Shimon Moore had edited all the footage he took of the 
Free Hugs Campaign into a music video featuring a song 
by his band, Sick Puppies. One week later, 
Moore uploaded the video onto YouTube and the world 
watched happy embraces amongst strangers on the 
streets of Sydney.
The video became a viral hit. 
David Burch of web video measurement service TubeMogul 
tells us there are 1,279 "Free Hugs" response videos to the 
original "Free Hugs Campaign," with over 38 million views. 
Meanwhile, Mann and Moore's original video has been 
viewed over 61 million times.
Despite "Free Hugs" videos racking up almost 100 million views, 
Juan Mann has struggled to make money from the video 
and campaign.
"When [Moore] posted the YouTube video, his manager had 
me sign a contract employing that same manager as mine," 
Mann said. "I complied, believing that Shimon, as my friend, 
would make certain that we were both amply compensated 
for the video and the Free Hugs merchandise the band sells."
That didn't happen. Juan Mann feels he was screwed over by 
his former housemate. He revealed to us that all the earnings 
from the ads placed on the video, t-shirt sales, and other 
"Free Hugs" merchandise go straight to the band and 
their management.

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