Flash mobs are a highly versatile and incredibly useful tool. They can be used to create brand awareness, to launch a new product or announce a promotion, and they can also be turned into creative team building exercises. There’s no denying it: being part of a flash mob is exciting and the kind of preparation that goes into planning an effective flash mob has all the characteristics of an ideal team building activity. It fosters cooperation between team members, improves morale, strengthens leadership and promotes an emotional response towards the brand and the company. We have used flash mobs as corporate training tools on several occasions and we always try to incorporate elements of creativity and fun in our projects. The brief C&A gave us presented us with the perfect opportunity to employ this amazing format at its best, achieving two goals with one exercise: brand awareness and improved teamwork.
We were tasked with planning a flash mob in Verona for our client C&A, an international chain of fashion retail clothing stores. The event was to follow a meeting, in which the new company strategy was to be presented. The strategy involved a new claim and a whole new message, complete with its own theme tune. The new company claim was connected to the “Feel Good Fashion” Movement and its musical identity was upbeat and positive. All these elements, you might have noticed, can be integrated perfectly within a team building strategy: there’s music and creativity, a positive outlook on fashion (and therefore on the industry the brand operates in) and there’s the need to restructure brand identity before the launch. All the ingredients, in short, for a cheerful, exciting and engaging team building exercise.
A Flash mob
Our project was to take place in Verona, a city with an outstanding musical tradition, and also a popular tourist destination. Thousands of tourists visit the city centre every day, to admire its magnificent architecture and soak in its romantic atmosphere. And no place in Verona has a more romantic atmosphere than Juliet’s house, with the balcony in which one of the most famous scenes in literary history took place. The balcony itself overlooks Piazza delle Erbe, which was the set location for our flash mob. Having received the new theme tune in advance, we had it rearranged and prepared a series of video tutorial, with the aid of a team of choreographers and dancers. We took care of the audio and video production, making sure we had a version of the song that could deliver the message in the short time we had at our disposal. The most interesting part of the exercise – as is often the case when planning a flash mob – was getting people who have no particular experience of dancing or music to perform in front of a large crowd. Our “artistic cast”, as it were, comprised 40 between store and brand managers and the preparation took a grand total of 30 minutes in the back of the local C&A store. We hired a team of professional music and dance coaches, who divided the participants into two sections: percussionists and vocalists/dancers, who successfully conveyed the idea of “feel good fashion” in front of thousands of tourists in one of the most beautiful squares in Italy.
What we achieved
A flash mob, particularly one that relies on nothing more than people, with little to no props involved, can provide instant and widespread visibility with very little expense. The marketing value is obvious: the flash mob is an interesting and entertaining event, that bystanders are sure to film and photograph and then share on social media, providing high-value viral content promotion practically for free. The team building side of things is equally interesting. Dancing and playing music in front of a crowd can be embarrassing to those who are not used to it and don’t particularly enjoy being in the spotlight: sharing that embarrassment and overcoming it together, to the point of being proud of the team’s collective achievements, is a powerful morale booster. Moreover, dancing and singing in unison to percussive music is a complex exercise: in order to be in synch, participants need to work as a real team, listen to each other and create harmony. Music is at once the most and the least democratic form of entertainment, in that everyone is essential, but it implies fixed roles and clear leadership. Ask any professional musician: the feeling of coming together with others to create perfect harmony is among the most satisfying a human being can experience.