Q. What should you do if you are the U.S. Air Force Band and budget cuts have taken their toll on your advertising budget?

A. A flashmob performance.

See it here:

29 thoughts on “Flashmob Marketing

  1. This particular flashmob is interesting to me. It looks good and it impressed the passer by’s. But did the watching public fully know why the flash mob were flash mobbing? I find it interesting that an institution so grounded in rules and rank would “protest” anything, especially in a way like this that could be seen as very insubordinate, however “cool” it may be. Defense aquatints to $0.25 (ish) from every tax dollar you pay. Some might say that is too high so budget cuts make sense.

    1. Although there are a lot of rules and ranks, military men and women are allowed to protest their rights and needs just like any other US civilian. Being in the military doesn’t take away their ability to speak out. This is why movements like “don’t act, don’t tell” became a public issue. This flash mob, in my opinion, is a very civil and peaceful way of protesting. I do agree that the message they were trying to protest way probably not clear to the randoms walking around. Unless the point of the flash mob was to simply raise awareness that the Orchestra still exists in the military.

    2. Leaving politics out of it, I believe those in the audience did get the message intended for them, which is that the Air Force Band still exists along with bringing awareness to the Air Force in general. Advertising for recruiting whether it is the Air Force Band or Air Force as a whole is what was most likely hurt, and these soldiers are using a very cost effective and beautiful method to gain publicity.

    3. I agree with Patrick here. I think Flash Mob’s can be excellent ways to grab the public’s attention. However, it might confuse many people, in the sense of them not knowing what is going on. However, sometimes shocking experiences can be the most memorable. I also think that every group of individuals have the right/need to protest at times–even the U.S military. This is surprising in a sense because this organization seems so very rule oriented. I think this flash mob was a peaceful and creative way of protesting. However, maybe their point did not come across clear and concise due to the nature of the flash mob.

  2. This is awesome! Flashmobs are so inexpensive and get the attention of a huge pool of people quickly. In the USAF’s case, a pool of 2 million views, plus the hundred or thousands of people at the museum. Multiple people watching the event at the museum had their cellphones pulled out. Who knows how many more views this event had if you count the views on all of the videos recorded. This is a great way to raise awareness.

  3. It amazing me how this marketing effort or concept blew up in 2013, but even more so the spin offs that were created. The “Harlem Shake” movement became such a popular advertising tool. I knew personally at least three local companies, big and small, that chose to do one within the same month!: Firebrand Sports, Energy Trust of Oregon and PECI to list. It’s a great way to get low cost advertising and can reflect positively on the company’s reputation. It makes them look like a fun and youthful group 🙂

    1. Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style lol Those both were extremely popular last year. Following viral trends like flash mobs and youtube videos are a great way to get exposure at a low cost.

  4. Strike while the iron is hot, mimicking current trendy songs and using it in addition to a flash mob is an economical way for them to get the word out. People searching the internet for the new song might stumble upon this video and enjoy it. To get a video to circulate rapidly all over the internet (go viral) is extremely difficult but it creates great buzz for the company/or idea behind it.

  5. I really enjoyed that. It brought a huge smile to my face and that’s all they needed to do to get people’s attention. People are going to be interested in something that makes their heart smile and feel joy. Although they are military and people hold them to higher standards and expect for them to follow all rules and not go against what may have been decided about budget, this is a great promotional idea! It’s free and look how many people stayed and watched the entire performance. I just hope they had a sign up around them with the schedule so that people could maybe attend their concert. I think this is a great marketing strategy. Just because your budget gets cut, doesn’t mean there aren’t incredible ways to still market yourself and what you have to offer. I LOVED IT! 🙂

  6. I was impressed when watching this…. i couldn’t tell the reason behind the protest until I read the full post. I liked their choice of music and how well they were prepared. Their performance had an impact on their image as the a military force, it showed me and I guess all the audience how they are hard workers and very serious about their job.

    1. It was interesting how this performance, however impressive it was, didn’t have a very clear reason. Even without a clear reason it was still extremely effective in marketing the diversity of military positions and the awe inspiring discipline in the armed forces. The performance sounded very professional and drew attention to the military band by the public.

  7. Wow that was beautiful!! I really enjoyed watching and listening to their performance and what a way to send a message and make an impact through a strong message.

  8. It was impressive, I really enjoyed the video, got the chilling all over. The selected plays are strong and powerful, plus the singing com along with that, really done some impact to the audience.

    By the way, check this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX6oSs7FHs0, it is a flashmob done live with famous host Oprah in year 2010.

  9. This is impressive. I do feel that a lot of flash mobs leave the witnesses feeling confused. I have seen them in Portland a few times, and more often than not, I have no idea who they are or what they are doing. A few years back I was invited to participate in one. I believe it was organized by Portland Improv. Anyways, it was basically a group of 500-600 people who were going to freeze in place at a given time. The event took place during the city fair, so most of the participants were inside the fairgrounds. Once the clock struck the chosen time everyone froze. To be honest, it was pretty lame. I was not watching the time and I just ended up standing in one place for 10 minutes. I’m not sure if this flash mob accomplished anything, but it was interesting to be a part of.

  10. I have yet to be privileged enough to witness a flash mob performance. It seams like an incredibly uplifting experience. We need more flash mobs in Portland! I believe there was one on the MAX last year, but I like the idea that this might be used for publicity and artistic reasons, rather than a bunch of teenagers dancing on a train. This would have definitely been a more effective use of 45 days in creation time for a certain firm pushing cheesy tweets.

  11. This is awesome. I think it takes a lot of coordination and effort to get a flashmob to actually be successful and promote an idea or brand. Most of the time, it comes off as cheesy or confusing, but this is brilliant.

  12. I think it’s great how flashmobs initially started as a way to freak people out in public, and then evolved into choreographed performances that entertained masses in park squares, but to see this trend followed by our very own U.S. Air Force really goes to show the power of viral marketing and how a little initiative goes a long way. This will be a great way to influence those interested in music who are considering joining the military, and it also gives the entire world a chance to view the true talent and dedication our armed forces have.
    Before watching this video, I felt that flashmobs were a little outdated and repetitive, but this is a great example of how versatile and refreshing they can be.

    -Luis Cacho BA341

  13. As long as this tactic is not overused and the public gets too used to it I see it as an extremely useful marketing tool. First of all it gains the attention of the public easily once it does it causes curiosity and sticks in their heads. Once the experience is stuck in their heads they make the connection to whatever is being promoted with it. Also more likely than not the majority of the people that the flash mob is targeted to it is people who were not there in person who are seeing it on the internet or some other source. If done correctly people just simply wish to see the video organically and it will not have to be fed to them as if it is an advertisement. The overall goal with these videos is probably to create one that people share over the internet with out incentive from the advertiser.

  14. This campaign has gotten pretty popular, so that they continued to create those. I saw the video of the one from last year too and they people looked just as stunned as in this video. I think what is important about this marketing campaign is the feel of connecting with the feel of surprise. People that were here might try to find the video and like it and connect it with their social media which makes it just like other video a quick success. An important part of the Band’s mission is to have a positive impact on the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America. With each viral video, the Band gathers more and more worldwide attention from the media and on the Internet reaching millions across the globe, improving the idea of the USAF Band. Just because their budget got cut, doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to still market themselves and what they have to offer.I have to agree with some of the comments above though, that they sound create something like a banner or at least more info after the video got online, so that people actually know who they are and what they stand for.

  15. This was very well preformed, practiced, and planned out to make an impact on a lot of people. Its amazing when you plan something at the right place at the right time you can really get attention. Music is a great way to gain attention because there is not very many people who do not like it.

  16. I thought this flash mob idea for an advertising was a great idea. The idea behind using music is strong because most people will take at least 5 seconds out of their day to turn and listen. Appreciation for music is something that can go a long way. I also thought the crowd demographic was pretty strong for what the air force wanted to achieve. The only thing the video didn’t touch on was how to donate or at least explain the predicament that the air force is currently in. It might have a little more success if it was direct with its message and how someone can help.

    1. I agree that it was a bit hard to determine what the flash mob was for, but thats what sparks the curiosity for the air force! Not only are they looking to gain attention for their budget cuts, but also to highlight the image of how the Air Force wants to be viewed. Brand image!! This goes a long way, especially with the music! This is a perfect opportunity to leave it open-ended and not say this is specifically for budget-cuts but to inspire minds and hopefully recruit potential members.

  17. A flash mob is a very creative medium for an advertisement as well as a pleasant one for consumers to hear. Well done, and the instrumentals/vocals were beautiful. I agree with Dominic, the message the air force was tried to send was ambiguous. Perhaps one of the singers could have had a spoke at the end to fill the crowd in on the details of the campaign.

  18. I think this is a great, and fun, way to bring attention to your organization. Talk about surprise and delight. I think the whole flash mob idea won’t go out of fashion as long as it’s being used in fun environments.

    I’m also not surprised that military bands need to fundraise for themselves. It’s just like anything run by the government, the arts get cut first (see public schools).

    My favorite flash mob is still Improv Everywhere’s Best Buy gag. It’s just fun (well, maybe not for Best Buy). https://youtu.be/KgUIbPfhSuo

  19. Flash Mob marketing was originally launched back in 2003, in the U.S. trend setting capital of New York City. However, this guerrilla marketing tactic didn’t fully get popularized on the west coast until 2012. Flash Mob marketing has been used as a successful visual marketing tool for many companies, both locally and internationally.

    It’s an amazing tool that has given companies a highly effective marketing tool to create and build brand awareness, given that it is spontaneous and can be easily shared through social media.

    Here is one Portland flash mob, which I personally have participated in. It has become an annual event throughout the Portland area and has circulated some serious hype on YouTube: http://www.wmtw.com/news/thriller-flash-mob-invades-downtown-portland/29427226

    Citation: http://www.magnifydigital.com/blog/using-a-flash-mob-to-create-brand-awareness/

  20. I love this as a concept for advertising.

    This is especially well done when you can increase the likelihood of eyeballs outside of the flash mob location getting on your stunt.

    This can be done creatively in a few ways:
    -Alerting press of the flash mob ahead of time
    -Hosting your flash mob somewhere press will already be
    -Quickly turning around a video of the event for online consumption
    -Hiring influencers to document and share the experience with their audience
    -Creating such a unique flash mob that people can’t help but share about it organically

  21. I just do not understand why they needed to do the flash mob.
    U.S. Air force is the government’s entity, but not a private company.

  22. That’s such an entertaining video ! I would never see the French military do that! But I’m still quite surprised to see how the US military can sometimes act as a private company to recruit new people and make communication! I don’t really know if I like that or not…

  23. I think these new forms on street marketing are really powerful, since they tend to break through the noise and have a potential to go viral. Here are some other creative forms of street marketing that don’t involve flash mobs: http://blog.allmyfaves.com/viral/21-amazing-street-marketing-campaigns/. While flash mobs being creative, I think the overall idea has been run into the ground. In order to be successful a lot of planning has to take place and the correct social media response is required.

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