Ambient Mobs

The way I see it, flash mob stunts are like ambient marketing. High impact with low reach. Except of course, with the internets, the reach is heavily extended.

Take a look at this recent one by Flip

Fail. But it’s not because it appears nearly everyone on the beach is a paid actor. This episode of the Mumbrella podcast suggests there’s no one being engaged with. But as stated above, the people physically there mean almost nothing, it’s the people who are sitting in office chairs watching it as we speak that matter.

And the fact that the initial video received 150,000+ hits in less than a week is a testimony to that.

Actually, even the idea behind this video I quite like. Flips are pretty much the most portable video camera on the market, perfect for capture the spontaneous events that happen in your life… like a flash mob.

But the execution let it down. The flash mob thing has been done, and without pushing the idea further it gets lost in existing freeze stunts and something about a mobile starting with the letter T. The initial release of the unedited amateur video also wasn’t the smartest move. Here’s a tip, when you’re trying to promote video cameras make sure the footage is of a high quality. It almost seems they wanted to rush it out to be the first to put it up, unable to give up control of their message.

Perhaps cameras could have been handed out before, something along the lines of you’ll never know when you need a Flip. Encouraging people afterwards to submit it online, then using all the angles and some of their own footage making their own version.

Of course the biggest reason it fails is because none of it is branded, not well anyway. David sums it up nicely. The idea was lost in its execution. What do you think?

No Comments
  • Marek
    Posted at November 5, 2009 10:26pm, 05 November Reply

    Agree 100%. (for a change)
    If you are going to blatantly copy an idea, at least put some effort into improving it.

    This feels very much like the case of give the client what the client wants without really advising them properly as to implications and alternatives.

  • Will Egan
    Posted at November 5, 2009 11:38pm, 05 November Reply

    I agree,

    You have to include the product in your flash mob. But I don't think it's fair to say this didn't work, look at the knowldege your sharing with the community about Flip cameras. They are not sold in many places in Australia and this will make people aware of them. Also, you target the right market by making a video flashmob, cause the people who watch it on youtube prob shoot their own vids too!

    BTW, (this isn't aimed at you Zac) flash mobs aren't old. There different, there new, and there gonna be bigger than you think. Not just for product marketing either! Chekc this out: http://bit.ly4pjpjp

    Good post,

    Has someone been asking you about this stuff somewhere, lol?

  • Will Egan
    Posted at November 5, 2009 11:39pm, 05 November Reply

    Correct Link

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at November 6, 2009 12:24am, 06 November Reply

    Have to admit, as much as I hate that song the flash mob was great. Although, bringing it to such masses (through Oprah) could see this trend peak and fad even quicker…

  • Anonymous
    Posted at November 6, 2009 8:37am, 06 November Reply

    Assuming the cost to shoot and edit this with an Agency + talent fees was $50k, 150,000+ hits is a pretty amazing return on investment.

    Try doing that on TV in a 30sec format with another $200k paid to Ben Lee for use of his song

  • Marek
    Posted at November 6, 2009 8:41am, 06 November Reply

    My question is this.
    From a consumers point of view:
    If you see a flashmob (say the T-mobile Train station one) and then they later find out its t-mobile, what happens?

    If later they see another unbranded flashmob, what associations are the consumer led to draw?

    I feel that you would think a) oh, it's t-mobile cos they do flashmobs, or b) oh they are just doing the same thing as t-mobile.

    Sure this demonstrates the use of the vid camera but how does it demonstrate something unique to the brand.

    Its the age old saying, if you can subsitute the brand in the ad for any other brand in the category, then its a crap brand building ad.
    And that's what their ads should be cos noone knows what Flip is and how its different.

  • Kruppy
    Posted at November 6, 2009 3:52pm, 06 November Reply

    Hey Marek,

    Re: "does it demonstrate something unique to the brand"

    I have to disagree with this criticism as I don't think this should be considered the campaign's objective.

    Not all marketing campaigns need to show off brand uniquness. In many cases, and a flash mob execution is a perfect example, the objective of the exercise is to create brand recall.

    Assuming branding is effectively executed – which in this case it is clearly not – then this objective can be clearly achieved.

    So when it comes to substitution, I gotta say, who cares if you can substitute another brand in, as long as the original brand is recognised in order to be recalled at time of purchase..?

  • nat
    Posted at November 8, 2009 10:22pm, 08 November Reply

    Agree with you Zac on this one.

    Also, when people are getting PAID to be in a "Flashmob" it isn't a flashmob, it's a publicity stunt. God, listening to certain marketers talk about "flashmobs" like they are some unique marketing platform like social networks just reminds you how many old farts there are getting their pop culture updates from Mel and Kochie on Sunrise. SO PLAYED OUT!

  • Kruppy
    Posted at November 9, 2009 10:54am, 09 November Reply

    Hey Nat,

    I think flashmobs (although you're right, a more apt description would probably 'publicity stunt') is certainly a unique marketing platform. With millions of views on youtube, it cant be ignored as a potential vehicle to reach people.

    Geez and here I am thinking that I'm still a spring chicken at 27…

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