Ever since the recent flash mob at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus caused a flutter on the Internet, the mania seems to have gripped Delhi too. With everyone, right from event management companies, TV channels to film producers organising flash mobs, with most informing the media beforehand to ensure coverage, experts say the concept is fast changing into a big ‘publicity gimmick.’
“A flash mob is a means to convey a message. It’s about drawing peoples’ time and attention towards a cause. If pre-event publicity happens, it kills the entire idea of a flash mob,” says Piyush Acharya, 23, one of the organisers of a flash mob against sexual harassment and female foeticide that took place at Sarojini Nagar, last week.
Soon after the Mumbai flash mob, where a group of youngsters broke into a spontaneous jig on Rang De Basanti at the crowded terimus, Delhi attempted a similar mob at Janpath on December 3. But it turned out to be a dud with the cops stopping it within a minute.
“We just wanted to break the monotony in the city. We had no cause attached to it,” says Ayush Gupta, 20, the organiser from Cabbageheads, an event management firm.
However, the flop show didn't deter a number of organisers jumping into the fray. The latest addition to the kitty is a series of dance mobs conducted this week at several markets across the city to promote dance reality show -Dance India Dance that airs on Zee TV. The channel has also organised flash mobs in cinema halls during the shows of Shah Rukh Khan starrer Don 2.
“This is that time of the year when a lot of people are out shopping or partying, so we can reach out to more number of people at the same time. The highest recall value of a thing is when it happens by surprise,“ justifies Akash Chawla, the marketing head, national channels, ZEE.
Experts argue against overdoing it. “The whole basis of a flash mob is spontaneity. If it’s organised for publicity, it is nothing but a trash commercial venture. I won’t be surprised if they start paying people to dance in a flash mob,” says Alyque Padamsee, communication consultant.
“Flash mobs in the city have become too predictable and will lose their value. Only a limited amount of a thing has an impact, repetition kills it. I can’t see the cause anywhere,” says advertising expert Piyush Pandey.
What really is a flash mob?
The dictionary defines a flash mob as: “A large group of people mobilised by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration and then disperse quickly.” Wikipedia describes it as a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and/or artistic expression.