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26/03/2009 by
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Using A Creative Flashmob As A Viral Element

The best way to get free publicity and free attention is by doing something remarkable and highly entertaining. Last Monday, the 23rd of March, a Belgium TV channel created a flashmob at an crowded trainstation to promote a new TV serie. Over 200 dansers created a scene which was recorded by several camera’s.

Op zoek naar Maria – March 23rd, 2009 [link]

Creative? Not that much. There has been several cases that involve some kind of same action over the past years. Lets have a look at those cases an analyze the impact.

Lets first take a look at a closer definition of the term flashmob:

A flashmob is a group of people who appear from out of nowhere, to perfom predetermined actions, designed to amuse and confuse surrounding people. The group performs these actions for a short amount of time before quickly dispersing. Flash mobs are often organised through email and/or newsgroup postings.

Urban Dictionary

As far as I know, flashmobs are created by a group of enthusiastic individuals who just like the media attention and wanted to have some fun. Later on, marketeers noticed the viral effect of these kind of actions. The first flashmob, created by a brand, is “Airport Musical” from lastminute.com to promote theatre tickets:

Airport Musical – May 19th, 2008 [link]

They kept it pretty well on topic, promoting a musical by performing a musical. The video must have caught the attention of the agency that was in charge of the promotion of the new logo from Getronics, a Dutch based ICT company. They did pretty much the same thing to get attention and awareness for their new design. A musical was performed by a group of theatre actors at the most central – and most crowded – trainstation in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Getronics Musical – Ocotber 14th, 2008 [link]

In order to get some attention for the Life’s for Sharing campaign from T-Mobile, they decided to do a similar thing at the trainstation in Liverpool in the UK.

The T-Mobile Dance – January 15th, 2009 [link]

The T-Mobile case already made in to the Viral Friday on #3 and has its own case study on ViralBlog.

The cases above have one thing in common: They’re all based on the flashmob principle and are aiming for as much as free publicity as possible. For as far as I know, there could have been a lot more then the examples above. The ones that didn’t make it into the blogosphere and failed to obtain enough publicity.
Do these kind of assets still create enough awereness? Will the lack of creativity kill the viral effect? I’m not quiet sure. Local sources will keep writing about it, but globally it won’t get the publicity it used to get. Its just not new anymore. It remains entertaining, although it reduced on the entertainment scale alot – if you’ve seen the same concept several times its not that fun any more. Which also makes it less remarkable. Will this be the end for flashmobs, created by brands? What do you think?

 

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Matthijs Roumen

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Comments (4)

  • mroumen (Matthijs Roumen) 26/03/2009, 12:06

    Post over Flashmobs als viral element staat online op ViralBlog: http://tinyurl.com/d6jkn5

     
  • ptnplanet (Philipp) 26/03/2009, 12:25

    Eine sehenswerte Sammlung viraler Flashmobs: http://tinyurl.com/d6jkn5

     
  • Lee Washignton
    26/03/2009, 13:02

    End of flashmobs. As soon as an idea is jumped on by the brand bandwagaon (brandwagon) it is killed. No longer original or unqiue and therefore no longer viral.

    You need something to make it unique – flash mob where everyone gets arrested, stupid mobile phones confiscated and thrown in trucks. Then it’s viral.

     
  • Martijn Reintjes 26/03/2009, 13:25

    These flash mob musicals remind me of a Buffy the Vampire Episode where the whole town of Sunnydale burst into song and dance under some mystical influence. The episode is called Once more, with feeling and demonstrates the power to entertain when ordinary daily routines (like the vending machine problem in the first flashmob) are turned into musical pieces

     
  • Laurens 26/03/2009, 15:23

    I think their will be more of these videos, from brands that insist that their creative agency creates a similar, brilliant idea. “Sure, we can do that” the creative agency says to the client. But they’re knowledge of viral is weak, so the result is just a stupid and weak video, performed by stupid actors and it looks more like a nice TVC than a killer viral..

     
  • Daan Jansonius 26/03/2009, 22:49

    You could argue whether or not these are actually flashmobs, seeing as the participants are all paid.

    Whilst they are certainly a hype at the moment I do believe there is still potential for brands to take this to the next limit. It’s easy to set something like this up and it’s hardly creative (Improv everywhere have been doing this for ages – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwMj3PJDxuo).

    However, I’d love to see a brand set something like this up with a group of their brand advocates, rather than having to pay dancers/actors.

    Btw, the T-Mobile ad wasn’t shot in Liverpool – but Liverpool Street Station, which is in London.