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A paint ad is inspiring people to film tearjerking videos about seeing color for the first time

An ad for paint has birthed a trend of sincere YouTube videos about the beauty of life on Earth.

In March, the paint and coatings company Valspar uploaded a carefully constructed tearjerker of a video, in which a group colorblind men and women give testimonials about their disability, before putting on EnChroma glasses — which help them to see certain colors they had never seen before — and looking at, what else, splotches of Valspar paint. The ad’s been viewed over 5 million times, bringing a lot of attention to a paint company. The ad also had a pleasant side effect: it inspired copycats.

Before the ad, only a few videos of color blind people’s first experiences with EnChroma — and the colors it allows them to see — had made their way onto YouTube. But since March, a few new videos are posted each week, featuring color blind people from across the world. While the advertisement was touching, the polished short pales in comparison with these moments captured on smartphone cameras. There’s no editing or artifice, each video is just a single long shot in which the reality of seeing a color for the first time gradually overtakes someone’s emotions.

This is a sunset.

This is the color in your child’s eyes.

This is purple hair.

Even the more moderate reaction is arresting in its humanity.

I adore this trend as a reminder of beauty in the everyday and an appreciation of what so many of us take for granted. Stop, the videos say, and take in what’s around you. That the idea began with an ad for paint gives me hope, however small, that marketing has the power to, if not be good in and of itself, then to inspire it.