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johnny vs amber

How Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard defamation trial went viral and became a LIVE “soap opera” observed by millions
(10 min read)

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial – a civil defamation case between April and June 2022. It was recorded and shared throughout social media and the Internet, and generated a huge impact.

?Strategy & Tools

Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard Defamation Trial History Timeline

  • 2009 – Johnny Depp met Amber Heard while filming The Rum Diary.
  • 2015 – they got married in Los Angeles.
  • May 2016 – Amber Heard claimed Johnny Depp had thrown a phone at her. She obtained an order of protection from her husband. Depp denied.
  • January 2017 – the couple got divorced.
  • December 2018 – Heard wrote an op-ed (personal opinion, published opposite the editorial page in a newspaper) for the Washington Post. She talked about being a victim of sexual violence. She didn't mention Depp.
  • March 2019 – Depp sued Heard for defamation. He said he was the one who suffered violence in that relationship.
  • 2020-2022 – the defamation trial was further delayed (COVID-19 pandemic).
  • April-June 2022 – the verdict was announced on June 1, 2022. As the result of the Depp v Heard ending, Johnny was awarded $15 M in damages, and Amber got $2 M.
  • May 14, 2022Saturday Night Live made a parody of the Depp v Heard trial. At that time the media coverage of the event was enormous, and it kept getting more intense

It was live

The parts of the trial were livestreamed, which made it more attractive for the audience. It was like a reality show that no one could predict.

Livestreaming meant all the emotions were real and the tears couldn't be faked. It worked similarly to the Kardashians' case. Fans have always loved watching famous people in their natural state

Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial lasted two months

The popularity of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial was highly popular and lasted from April to June 2022. All the stages were reported in the media. Livestreaming parts of the trial made it easier to stay up to date with the events.

Building hype

That was happening before the actual Amber Heard lawsuit was probably even more important than the defamation trial.

The couple had a short but intense relationship in late 2011 and early 2012. They were observed carefully by the mass media and the fans. Their fights, divorce, and the war of motions and appeals created an event that lived its own life.

The mass media coverage

The trial, just as the previous events, was analyzed and reported by newspapers, TV, and gossip portals.

For example, Saturday Night Live made a parody of the part of the trial on May 14th, 2022. They tweeted about it the next day on their official Twitter account.

Depp v Heard as an important part of our culture

#JusticeForJohnny has become a symbol for all the ignored men that had lost their lawsuits against abusive women. #justiceforamberheard was seen as a symbolic, feminist movement for women's rights in courts.

Amber Heard is a feminist activist. She's involved in the #metoo movement. The media saw the trial as a manifestation of the female victim's suffering from domestic violence. But, when the court found Heard guilty, many sources talked about the potential death of the #metoo movement. The connection between the trial and the movement boosted the event itself.

The precedent

In fact, the verdict became a kind of precedent. In most similar cases, women would usually win.

Here, the result was different. On top of that, it was public, and a famous actress was in the spotlight. Nothing new that the media started wondering about the possible end of the #metoo movement.

Content repurposing

The event got so popular that memes and other materials were created. Searching “#JusticeForJohnny” on YouTube will give you a list of films and YT shorts. They include other celebrities talking about the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial as well as fragments of the trial from the court.

Influencer marketing

Other celebrities made their statements in the case. These include Leonardo DiCaprio, Winona Ryder, James Franco, Vanessa Paradis, and others.

Depp accused Heard of cheating on him with DiCaprio. It turned out to be true. DiCaprio admitted it and apologized to Depp in his statement. Depp's exes, such as Paradis and Ryder, all denied that Depp was aggressive and abusive. Everything was polarized and powered the entire case.

A living soap opera

At some point, The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial turned into a sort of soap opera. Just like the Kardashians, Depp and Heard have found themselves under constant observation by millions.

Shorts, live streams, recordings from the court, and tons of photos of the actors from the courtroom – the fans followed every step on Depp and Heard's way through the trial. Basically each day came with another sensational news or video.

Virality of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial

Some of the content related to the case went viral. For example, a video where Johnny Depp couldn't hold his laughter at Heard's lawyer's attempts at imitating Depp's behavior.

The media circus

The entire hype for the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial may be called a media circus. It was easy to find contradicting conclusions and comments on both sides (newspapers, media portals, celebrities on their Twitter account).

The popularity of both actors sparked the event. It also spawned many weird situations. You may try googling various compilations/summaries of the most viral moments of the trial (like the one by The Independent).

The media used part of the weirdest themes as humorous elements in their articles and posts. Making people laugh increased their interest in the event.

?Psychology

Authority Bias

The event got a lot of traction because it was about famous people. Authority bias means that people pay more attention and trust more if there is some authority concerned. This could be a star, a celebrity, or an artist.

A lot of other celebrities also took part in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial. It “meant” that it was really something very important. Many people fell for that.

FOMO Effect

People don't like missing important information. The trial and all the events connected to it were all reported and shared regularly by the mass media and the Internet.

There is still a lot of content about it on YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter. The fans wanted to stay informed about the course of the action.

Progressive Disclosure

It's easier to follow many stages of an event if it's presented partially, step by step. Amber Heard lawsuit summary shows that the entire situation had a lot of twists and turns.

New names and faces, new allegations and recordings from the court. It would be hard to follow if everything had been disclosed at the same time, after the final verdict.

Mere Exposure Effect

It was difficult not to hear about the trial. Even harder was not to remember or think about it. Most of the Internet, social media platforms as well TV and online news and gossip portals were all about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial.

People have been talking about the couple also a few years before the actual trial. Their arguments, Amber's order of protection from Depp in 2016, the divorce – all of it stirred up the hype.

Humor Effect

People remember things better if they make them laugh. Strange as it may sound, the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial had a bunch of moments that the Internet has turned into memes and jokes.

Privacy Exposed

Gossip portals and the mass media feed on celebrities' privacy. The more they show to the world, the more “clickable” the article will be.

The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial was exposed a lot. People could hear about the couple's affairs, addictions, and other problems they tried to hide. Sneak-peeking into stars' lives always generates people's interest.

? Window of Opportunity

If you have a company or want to create one, try showing your target audience how you work. The Depp and Heard defamation trial was livestreamed regularly. The fans could follow every stage of the event. It built hype.

It was so popular thanks to the celebrities. The presence of the actors and models made it much more interesting. Working with famous influencers and stars may skyrocket your sales. Celebrities can bring a whole lot of potential customers to your door.

Try designing many-stage marketing events to promote your company and services. The trial lasted for two months, but all the information was served in portions. Over time, more and more stars joined the case, which added fresh wood to that fire.

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