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Woman Who Went Viral for Naming Her Wi-Fi ‘Old Bay Seasoning’ Explains Her Spicy Choice

3 minute read

Five years after a woman named her Wi-Fi network “Old Bay seasoning,” her life took an even spicier turn when she found out the company noticed it, and what’s more, representatives for the company showed up at her apartment.

Who was this mysterious Old Bay seasoning Wi-Fi person? Old Bay wanted to know. And so, the company set out in steadfast determination to find the Brooklyn, New York, resident behind the Wi-Fi name.

Turns out the woman is Catherine Zhou.

Old Bay went to great lengths to find the woman on social media and on the streets. It paid off. Viral snapshots of the signs in search of her taped up all over Greenpoint, where she is based, rocketed the name of her personal network to viral status thanks to a very interested audience.

“Dear whoever named their wifi network oldbayseasoning, are you our #1 fan?” the sign read.

Presumably, this coincidence resonated deeply with the company that viewed it as a marketing opportunity. Old Bay eventually descended on Zhou’s abode with a sandwich board guy and signs, and she then posted about it on her company’s Slack channel, where her colleague Michael Hoffman requested permission to tweet about it. Permission granted, he took to Twitter to share photos last Friday morning.

“Can’t stress how absurd it was to have Old Bay Seasoning show up at my doorstep five years later,” Zhou told TIME.

Amidst worries about privacy, the stunt elevated online dialogue about security concerns. But Zhou says she’s protective of both her internet privacy and security — and the viral event didn’t involve anything too concerning.

“The first thing we talked about was how Old Bay found us,” she said. “There was nothing super tech savvy or internet surveillance-like going on. One of the marketers with Old Bay happened to visit the coffee shop next to my apartment. When she saw my Wi-Fi network, she got the idea for this campaign. It was just a random coincidence. She knew enough about the baristas at that cafe for me to know it wasn’t a lie.”

Why that Wi-Fi name? “I couldn’t think of a clever network name, and when I looked around the room, the first thing I saw was a jar of Old Bay seasoning,” she said.

Fateful day.

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