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Using flash mobs: Idea, execution, orchestration matter, say experts

03-October-2009
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Using flash mobs: Idea, execution, orchestration matter, say experts

Mumbai was witness to a series of 24 live skits on Friday, September 26, 2009, that were performed at different locations such as colleges, malls and other shopping destinations, railway stations, etc. The skits formed part of the ground activity for the upcoming film ‘Do Knot Disturb’, a co-production of Big Pictures and Puja Entertainment, which is slated for release worldwide on October 2, 2009.

It was for the first time that Big Pictures used flash mob as part of its marketing strategy. This apart, live trailers of the movie were also played. Nevertheless, this is not the first time that flash mobs have been used in the country. Flash mob as a concept started in the US, which gradually spread to Europe and Asia. In the international markets, flash mobs have been used not only by brands but even in political rallies. However, use of flash mobs in India has not been very extensive yet and limited mainly to movie marketing.

In conversation with exchange4media, Sunir Kheterpal, COO, Big Pictures, said, “This is the first time we at Big Pictures have used flash mob as a form of communication to market our film. In fact, this is the first time any company has used this tool to market a film. The concept has worked well for us, especially because this tool allows you to reach out to the masses, which are target audience for the film as well.”

Kheterpal further said, “This is a very cost effective form of communication. The responses so far have been satisfactory. In Delhi, the flash mob activity of six people dancing to the songs of ‘Do Knot Disturb’ was carried out at nine malls in the city, which have the highest footfalls and more than 20,000 people saw this activity. In Mumbai, too, the live enactment of ‘Do Knot Disturb’ trailers by a group of five people at various places received tremendous response.”

As far as executing flash mobs in India is concerned, one of the challenges in India is dealing with security concerns (such as acquiring permission from the authorities), especially in a city like Mumbai.

Flash mobs can be very powerful

Speaking on the use of flash mobs, Shubha George, COO, MEC South Asia, explained, “As in any other form of communication, if there is a strong thematic connect with the brand’s message, flash mobs can be very powerful. Internationally, online flash mobs are gaining popularity, while in India flash mob is a relatively new concept for commercial communication.”

She further said, “I believe that flash mobs don’t necessarily require scale on ground. In fact, the interest and WOM (Word of Mouth) that it creates will magnify its impact. India will also find the concept more effective if online mobs are adapted for relevant brand communications. This, I believe, will be quite powerful.”

According to Akshay Sharma, Media Director - Buying, Lintas Media Group, “Innovation is always welcome, and a flash mob reinstates just that. A flash mob’s ability to make an impact and become memorable to the people who experience it makes it extremely effective. Where flash mobs score is the PR stories it generates and, more importantly, the word of mouth effect that it generates.”

Sharma added, “The success of a flash mob from a brand’s perspective depends on the integration of the brand or its properties at the execution level. The two critical factors for the success of a flash mob are orchestrating the act and, secondly and more importantly, getting the act to reach out to more people than the people present at the venue who get to experience it. This can be done either by tipping of select media to cover it or by recording the event and then putting it up on the Internet and letting its viral nature take over.”

Having a different take, Sanjay Sharma, Director, Synergy, said, “Flash mob is one form of direct marketing and is likely to have a high cost per contact, however, the concept may relate well only to some brands or product categories, not all.”

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