Thursday, 9 December 2010

And the Concept of the Flash Mob Dies a Timely Death

A year ago I was begging, and I do mean BEGGING our Sales team that we stage a Flash Mob promotion. They said no. If the idea comes up this year, I'll be begging them, and I do mean BEGGING, not to do it. Don't get me wrong. They were a good idea at the time; an idea that's come and gone.

We all have our favourites, from a "Sound of Music" performance in a train station to the most recent, the Hallelujah Chorus in a department store. Mine is the "can you hear me now?" guy with his mob following the unwitting snowboarder on his cellphone at a ski resort. Brilliant!

The flash mob is a flash in the pan that's come and gone. That ship has sailed. It's a dead parrot. Here's why:

1. It appears to be spontaneous but is actually quite planned and precisely choreographed. The next generation of Flash Mobs will be more about delightfully shocking the crowd "oh look, it's a Flash Mob!" than in delivering an excellent performance, unexpectedly.

2. They have to be a surprise. My local rag reported that there's going to be one this weekend at the Mall. The place will be jammed with expectant Mob-watchers. If you're going to catch the awestruck surprise of the unwitting audience on a cell-phone camera, they have to be awestruck, suprised and unwittingly a part of the event. This is key - the audience has to be surprised.

3. There has to be a reason for the Mob. To promote a car, or a show, or a cell-phone plan or in my own case, our booth at a tradeshow. A Flash Mob performance can't exist only to exist. It exists for a higher purpose.

4. It has to go viral. The best Flash Mob videos aren't as much about the performance, although they appear to be. They are actually about the bystander reaction. Candid Camera knew that years ago and was a hit TV show because of it.

5. And finally, it can't be old news. We've reached the stage where the next Flash Mob that breaks out in a subway station is going to be more of an annoyance than an unexpected delight.

Just say no to Flash Mobs! NO MORE FLASH MOBS!! (Can you hear me now?)

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