Might as Well Post These

We normally don’t post projects that are corporate promotions, but in the interest of not getting any more emails to the tune of, “Have you guys seen this?” here they are:

The first is a commercial for T-Mobile that aired on UK television. The second is a publicity stunt / viral video that was made to promote a Belgian reality TV show centered around a production of The Sound of Music.

The T-Mobile video came first; it was released in January. Of course there have been many flash mobs and Improv Everywhere-style events staged in London’s Liverpool Street Station, long before T-Mobile. The Belgian video was released in March, hot on the heels of T-Mobile’s success. The videos are pretty similar to each other, but what I found really hilarious was how brazenly the Belgian team ripped off the T-Mobile behind-the-scenes video. Check them out side-by-side:

Both videos are very well made and are no doubt entertaining. Of course it helps that they both had a big corporate budget and permits to use the train stations. Like I said, we weren’t going to post them since they are huge commercial ventures and not the work of the independent pranksters and artists we love to feature, but after getting 100 tips about them emailed to us, why the hell not.

7 thoughts on “Might as Well Post These”

  1. What a shame.
    Couldn’t you just have posted a message about how many tips you have received and appreciated without posting the videos?
    I certainly can’t claim to know all the motives and reasons behind Improv Everywhere but after participating in a few events, I got the impression that this is precisely the sort of stuff it would critique if given the chance.
    How are these flash mob/IE-style/urban pranks and not simply heavily calculated branding strategies. Booo.

  2. @Connor,

    I agree with you, but there’s no sense in denying that they exist and that they have been extremely popular. The blog covers the trend of art/comedy/pranks/stunts in public places, and after quite a bit of deliberation (months on the part of T-Mobile, weeks on the part of Sound of Music), I decided it was appropriate to mention them and make clear that these videos are a corporate version of a trend we cover here. I felt it was important to set the record straight that both of these videos are commercials, produced by ad agencies, and made up of paid actors. These videos have spread all over the place getting millions of views and most of the coverage I’ve seen either assumes they have some relationship to Improv Everywhere (they do not), or implies that they were “spontaneous” and made up of every day people (they are people who got cast and attended rehearsals and got paid.)

    It would be silly to mention the videos and not embed them. A mention would still get people to Google them and find them immediately.

  3. A friend showed me the Belgian one a couple days ago, and I was surprised that I hadn’t seen it yet since I figured that Urban Prankster would’ve reported it first. Now that I know it was a stunt for TV, I understand why you’d be reluctant to post it since it doesn’t really fit the spirit of what these sort of Improv Everywhere style pranks are about. But it’s nice to give these sort of things a nod anyway because I simply love watching them no matter who does it, and if you hadn’t mentioned them I might never have found them. Maybe someone ought to start a blog for commercial urban pranks just so there’s no confusion :p

  4. @Charlie – Thanks for the response. You awesome. Not a typo. You awesome. Especially:
    “I felt it was important to set the record straight that both of these videos are commercials, produced by ad agencies, and made up of paid actors.”
    Just wish this statement was part of the post itself because it’s not entirely clear (to me) from the post proper that these have nothing to do with Improv Everywhere. xo

  5. The fact that these videos are commercials (or commercially produced) doesn’t mean that they don’t generate smiles in the viewers, whether at the scene or later online. Anyone with two halves of a brain can figure out that they aren’t improvisational (or was everyone but me born knowing those dances?), and it’s not as though they’re hurting anyone.

    Yes, do let people know they’re not the work of IE, but why is it such “a shame?” If they’re “heavily calculated branding messages” it was completely lost on me. At what point in the “Sound of Music” video does the branding kick in? And you can get almost clear to the end of the T-Mobil video (at least in the version I saw) without having any idea who funded it.

    Sheesh, get over yourselves, folks. There are many ways to bring a little happiness to the world; appreciating one doesn’t demean the others. Shouldn’t we just be celebrating all of them we find?

  6. I have to say that out of the two the Belgium one was much better choreography wise. I really like the different waves they had going on at the end. If anyone is getting something like this together in Chicago please let me know!

  7. @ Susan

    Surely it is detaching the scenes from their original messages and intentions that demeans them?

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