Taking a Risk on a Played Out Trend

September 10, 2014

by Kim Taylor

Flash mobs were all the rage a few years ago.  Well-orchestrated mobs have garnered millions of views on YouTube and gained worldwide attention.  Then, poof!  They faded quietly into the background.  To assemble a flash mob now—in 2014—would be inviting praise’s ugly cousin, mockery, to your doorstep.  Or, would it?

Kudos to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater for taking a chance on a played out trend and performing a spectacular Les Miserables flash mob at The Mall at Millenia to publicize the show’s opening.  With nearly 100,000 views on YouTube, coverage on NBC’s Today show and CBS Sunday Morning and more press than they probably imagined, they hit it out of the park.

Delving a little deeper into why this worked:

  1. They nailed the element of surprise.
    Actors in plain clothes carrying shopping bags and Starbucks cups don’t exactly draw suspicion.
  2. It was well-planned and executed.
    Perhaps by technical terms, this wasn’t a flash mob.  We can assume the Mall knew well in advance the performance was going to take place, and it likely wasn’t a spontaneous act, but rather a calculated performance for publicity.  However, flawless execution was a big factor for success here.
  3. Direct promotional tie-in.
    Orlando Shakes wants to sell tickets to the show.  They brought a glimpse of the show to a crowded mall, many of whom may’ve been unaware of the show’s opening.  What better way to sell than to let your buyer sample the product? 

Sometimes the reward is worth the risk.


We Have the Right to Make You be Silent

September 8, 2011

by Dan Ward

What do you do when the flash mob turns into a crash mob?

As Floyd Abrams writes in The Wall Street Journal, in an increasing number of cases, flash mobs are becoming just plain mobs, with large groups committing acts of violence.

And just like the many non-violent flash mobs that pop up daily across the country, these groups are connecting via text, twitter and Facebook.

In response, some cities are now considering or passing legislation to halt the communication behind flash mobs. Cleveland cited “improper use of social media to violate ordinances … by promoting illegal flash mob activity.” In San Francisco, the BART public transportation system disabled its fiber-optic network to prevent all cell phone usage on its trains in response to a report that organizers connecting via cell phone planned to disrupt service.

I’m no card-carrying member of the ACLU, but these responses seem like overreaching to me. Is governing the “proper” usage of social media Constitutional?  Could shutting down phone service be a greater security risk than the planned disruptions the shutdown is supposed to prevent?

I don’t have the answers. I just know I have questions. What do you think?


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