Friday, 15 May 2009

It's ok to flash in public!

No I don't mean the dirty mack and shifty look in a local park but at least the heading made you read on. What i'm referring to is the thrill of flash mob events that seems to have sparked the imagination of us Brits. Perhaps it is the adrenaline of such an instantaneous burst of activity or perhaps it's the Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame narcissim, the Big Brother obsession with being on TV. Either way, there are some brands and agencies that are nailing the viral element of the social media evolution and creating incredible brand engagement.

If you haven't stumbled across the idea of flash mobs (where have you been all this time?!), it involves bringing together large numbers of people to act out a specific event in public locations. T-Mobile seems to have embraced this with open arms and you can see footage of their recent sing-a-long in Trafalgar Square using this Chinwag link. Scroll down to the 4 min edit and keep an eye out for Pink....actually, you don't need to do that, there is more to life. Want more examples, you can give this site a go.

The event itself is creative but it's the online marketing impact that excites me. This video has more than 450,000 views on YouTube and 1,483 ratings...not bad eh? Just think of the full social potential if the viral effect is fully exploited nationally, globally?

Having spoken to someone involved in this event (Saatchi & Saatchi organised the whole thing), it's not the free spirited utopia that you might think. Organising these events requires massive co-ordination with the local council and Police. That's inevitable, for one there has to be cover in case of an accident - who would foot the bill if hundreds of people got injured by crowd frenzy?

Do flash mobs have a direct financial benefit? I don't know how you could qualify that unless you ask people why they bought on your website/in-store and list "the flash mob in Trafalgar Square inspired me" as an option.....

However, perhaps that is missing the point. From a brand awareness point of view, it is an amazing outlet. Thousands of people coming together in waves of exaltation, hundreds of thousands perhaps millions more engaging with the creative online via social networks/seeding.

What do you think? Is flash mobbing a flash in the pan or can it become a sustainable engagement tool? Is it only for global brands that have at the core of their brand values a sense of bringing people together, like the mobile operators?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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