Flash mobs may lose sheen if overdone

02 Jan,2012

By Neha Dewan


There was nothing unusual about the busy weekend evening at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, in the second week of December. Christmas was just round the corner, and the mall was thronged by scores of shoppers eyeing bargain deals.


It changed at 6 pm when suddenly a large group of people gathered and broke into a dance that lasted a few minutes and ended with the signature Nokia tune. It was one of the flash mobs that the Finnish mobile phone maker organised simultaneously across six cities to mark the launch of its Lumia smartphone.


It took most onlookers by surprise, but many shoppers have seen other such song and dance in recent times.


Flash mob-when a group of people suddenly assemble in a public place to perform a dance or any other short entertainment act and then disperse quickly-is perhaps the hottest marketing buzz in the country, but analysts warn it will lose its sheen because marketers are overdoing it.


Often used for the purpose of entertainment or to spread awareness about a social cause, flash mob has its modern day origin in 2003 when it was first held in a retail store in Manhattan, the US.


However, in India the flash mob kicked off in big way last November when 23-year-old Shonan Kothari led a 200-people crowd to dance to the tunes of ‘Rang de Basanti’ at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station in Mumbai. The event was a grand success, getting several views on YouTube.


Since then, there have been a string of flash mobs organised by brands, TV channels, NGOs across leading malls in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to promote shows, create awareness and generate buzz. And here lies the danger-killing the hen that lays golden eggs.


Moreover, in some cases, brands end up advertising before the show, either through social media or through word-of-mouth, which dilutes their spontaneity.


Too much, too soon? Maybe, that’s why brand experts sound a word of caution against using flash mob frequently.


And this is what made Arjun Sharma from deciding against having a flash mob last year. “We thought it would be predictable to do it again in 2011,” says the director of Select Citywalk Mall in South Delhi, who organized a flash mob in 2010. However, Mr Sharma does plan to organise another one-most likely on Valentine’s Day in February.


“It’s a fabulous way of community building as it leaves an image in the minds of the consumer.”


Perhaps that explains the need of many brands to get associated with this ‘surprise’ quotient. Santosh Desai, CEO of Future Brands, calls it a classic case of ‘interactive advertising’. “There is much talk about creating experiences for the consumer. And this acts as the perfect medium to give them that.”


Ashley Lobo’s Danceworx, which organised a flash mob on the Christmas weekend at DLF Promenade mall in the capital, now gets at least 4-5 queries a month for such shows. But Heemanshu Sharma, choreographer at Dancework, says flash mobs should be limited. “I think flash mobs can be far more productive if used less. Otherwise, they tend to become very predictable,” says Mr Sharma.


Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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