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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: “T-Mobile Sing-along Trafalgar Square”


I debated with myself whether to post this or not, because while the whole T-Mobile flashmob thing started out back in February as a truly viral thing, it has now become something that is consciously being manufactured for marketing purposes. Of course, that first group dance at London’s Liverpool Street train station was devised as a marketing scheme too, but it later took on aspects beyond that, that T-Mobile could not have anticipated or even planned for. But here…

Yes, the video itself is kinda cool, and it is interesting, from a sociological perspective, to know that the 13,500 people who descended upon Trafalgar Square thought they’d be dancing — seeing how they react to suddenly being asked to sing is intriguing. But you also have to wonder: How many of these people give a shit about T-Mobile? How many of them may be actively hostile to T-Mobile, or would be, if they’d known they were being appropriated to sell cellular phone services? How many are T-Mobile customers, and how many will switch to T-Mobile because of this?

I’ll also note that I learned about this via a PR agency that specifically works to promote “viral” video — surely an oxymoron; can you “promote” “viral” anything? — and the social-networking aspects of the Web. They offered to pay me to promote this video and the ad that will be cut down from this to play on British TV. I refused any payment.



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  • Mimi

    Aha, you beat me to it (my comment on the Liverpool Street one). Like I said there, at 2:30, with the na-na-na-nas and the panoramic view of the square, I briefly forget it’s an ad and have an I-love-humanity-and-I-love-London moment.

    Which gets dimmed slightly by knowing a PR firm offered to pay you to promote this, so I’m going to go ahead and forget I read that.

  • Martin

    Urgh, maybe it’s my cynical nature but I just couldn’t help but notice every single person that was playing up to the camera. Surely we human beings should have evolved past the need to do stupid things in front of a camera when most of us carry one in our pockets?

    And how can a crowd not synchronise hand waving properly? Are people’s sense of rhythm that bad? or is it (as Scott Adams would say) in’duh’vidualism?

  • Kenny

    I briefly forget it’s an ad and had an I-love-humanity moment too.

    Hah… I’m already on T-Mobile.. have been for about a decade. I’m not about to claim that I’m not influenced by advertising, but I can say that the advert didn’t change my opinion about T-mobile by a noticable degree.
    What it did, was make me think.. “Wow.. isn’t that brilliant? I wish I’d been part of that.”

  • Nyquist

    i hate this advert so much and find it so offensive that i’ve written to T-mobile telling them that after several years on contract with them I am cancelling.

    It’s ok if you have sky+ or virgin as you can fast forward through this brain dead abuse; but i object to also seeing it blown up london buses and worst of all on a massive screen at the cinema.

    I’ve also noted that this is regularly voted the worst advert in the world.

    surely whoever came up with this nightmare and whichever marketing team signed it off should be sat in a dark room and forced to watch it on loop for several days as punishment.

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