September 12, 2006

Lucy Gao’s infamous invitation

You’ve probably already heard of the global phenomenon spawned by the 21 year old Lucy Gao but it’s so good it’s worth a mention.

Lucy is an intern for Citigroup bank of Canary Warf, London. She recently sent an email to 39 of her “friends” giving them very detailed instructions on the schedule for her 21st birthday celebration at the Rivoli bar in the Ritz hotel. It gave them staggered arrival times and told them what to wear and even what to say. The email is studded with conceited comments such as “A specially made birthday cake has also been ordered and the Ritz waiters will kindly serve you each a generous slice with Ritz cutleries, etc… also on me.” Another; “I will be accepting cards and small gifts between 9pm to 11pm” Gold dust!

Anyway, the point in mentioning the story on our blog is to highlight the way in which the story itself spread. Naturally one of the stunned “friends” who received the original message was compelled to pass it on to a colleague. She then forwarded it to 12 friends who passed it to their friends etc. Within hours, the message was landing in the inboxes of most of the bankers in London and was well on its way to going global. This is a classic case of a real-world user-generated, albeit unintentional, viral. It proves to us that if the content is right the largely false view of exponential viral growth holds true.

The poor girl’s certainly found fame must have lost her dignity in a big way. This reminds one of the case of legendary Ghyslain “Star Wars Kid” Raza; the boy whose parents recently settled a cyber bullying lawsuit against his tormentors and claimed $351,000 in damages. It’s a pretty grey legal area as it’s difficult to quantify the cost of serious mental anguish –Star Wars Kid’s landed himself in a psychiatric facility for his Light Sabre larks.

Below is Lucy’s email in all its glory:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your replies and I am glad all of you can come this Friday to celebrate my 21st with me. Please read ALL the following to ensure your entry into the Ritz.

Lucy’s 21st Birthday Party at The Ritz Hotel London
Friday, 18th of August
9pm Champagne Reception
10pm Photo Shoots
10:30pm Blowing Candles
Mid-night Pangaea, Mayfair

I have arranged the Ritz to host a Champagne Reception with a selection of Ritz Champagne for all my guests, this will be on me so please come and indulge.

A specially made birthday cake has also been ordered and the Ritz waiters will kindly serve you each a generous slice with Ritz cutleries, etc… also on me.

* When you arrive, take the Hotel entry on the opposite side of the Green Park tube station [Please refer to your arrival time at the end of this email]

* When asked “how can I help you Sir/Madame?”, you reply “I am here for Lucy’s Birthday Party at the Rivoli Bar”

* You will be escorted to the lounge area next to the Rivoli bar, where you will hopefully see a gorgeous group of ladies.

If you experience any issues getting in or getting to the Ritz, please call my mobile on 07782 205 450 and my PA Ms Gill will kindly deal with your queries between 8:30pm to 10pm.


Gentlemen: Jacket, shirt, and please also bring a tie (no jeans, trainers, flip-flops, polo-shirts)
Ladies: skirt/top, cocktail dress (no denim, min-skirts, flip-flips, bad tastes)
Advice 1: It goes without saying that the more upper-class you dress, the less likely you shall be denied entry.
Advice 2: Photos will be taken between 10pm to 10:30pm, and these will be distributed once processed, therefore you may want to be well-groomed! 😉

I will be accepting cards and small gifts between 9pm to 11pm… hehehe

I very much look forward to seeing you all at the Ritz this Friday.


ARRIVAL TIMES: [Please stick to these as best as you can, thank you] 9:00pm: Lucy, Sophie Sandner, Kajai, Mandeep, Preet, Sanami, Su, Lisa, Kate.
9:15pm: Phoebe, Sophie Seugnet, Theo, Dmitry, Ed, Nikolay, Paul, Nick, Harry.
9:30pm: Marco, Andrea, Jess, Ovi, Yuki, Olga, Kim, Marcelo, Ulyana, Krystal, Dan.
9:45pm: Sunita, Alan, JingJing, Emma. 10:00pm: Anthony, Rachel, Roger, Uli, Yogi, Gharzi