Memes, Mind Share and Minimizing Public Space

Enjoy watching this wonderful video, before reading why I absolutely hate it:


Now I’ll do the unthinkable and quote myself:

The war over mind share rages on and in the very near future it would be impossible to leave your home without stumbling into an advertisement, and most of the time you won’t even know you’re in one.
   – – Shahar Golan, January 18, 2009

We are living in the age of über-fast memes, where an idea in the real world can be documented and uploaded to YouTube, watched anywhere around the world, and ‘downloaded’ back to the real world in another country. The following timeline is just one example of how this ‘cultural virus’ can spread:

January 2008
Improv Everywhere does Frozen Grand Central.
February 2008
The original stunt is duplicated all over the globe. A world map of copycats is soon enough posted for easier tracking.
March 2008
Improv Everywhere performs an original musical stunt titled Food Court Musical in front of a small shopping mall audience.
April 2008
Television’s Law & Order: SVU incorporates a fictionalized Frozen Grand Central into an episode. Actor Robin Williams plays a fictional Charlie Todd.
January 2009
T-Mobile executes a ‘Thawed’ Frozen Grand Central, mixing the Food Court Musical stunt into it and rebranding it as The T-Mobile Dance. The video is the first successful commercialized version of the stunt.
March 2009
VTM, a Belgian television station executes a Sound-of-Music T-Mobile dance.

And the dance will continue…

The fact that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is one of my favourite musicals is irrelevant. For all I care Julie Andrews could have danced right there on Antwerp’s Central Station, holding hands with the entire Von Trapp family – it still would not change the fact that we are losing the war over mind share and over public spaces.

The 3D hologram shark ad that startles Marty McFly in Back to the Future’s 2015? The ads that personally address John Anderton in Minority Report’s 2054? Why wait for hi-tech advertising, when you can get stuck in a real world commercial today? Just try and catch a train in Antwerp, New York or Tel-Aviv in the near future.

Oh… and if you’re thinking of avoiding the train all together by driving to work, better think again: KFC logos will soon be sprayed all over the road.

You can read more on this subject in Kalle Lasn’s excellent book Culture Jam: How to Reverse America’s Suicidal Consumer Binge – And Why We Must.


Yes, I do realize that by blogging about it I add to the hype needed to perpetuate this phenomenon – but just like people printing books about the dwindling rainforests, there is just no other way of stopping this.

The T-Mobile Dance: When Frozen Grand Central Meets Evolution of Dance

Since traditional advertising ceases to be effective, I am afraid the future is made out of quote-unquote guerrilla marketing like this T-Mobile ad just shot on London Liverpool Street railway station. The war over mind share rages on and in the very near future it would be impossible to leave your home without stumbling into an advertisement, and most of the time you won’t even know you’re in one.

It is a loathsome, offensive ad. Yet I can’t look away:

Check out T-Mobile’s Life’s for Sharing YouTube channel for prep videos.

Can I Get A Napkin Please?

Upon watching a musical for the first time many people find it a bit weird when a thespian just breaks out into a song in the middle of a conversation. Once a viewer accepts this as an externalization of the character’s feelings, it becomes a natural tool of the genre. How about if people just broke into a song in real life? That’s a whole different ball game, and is exactly what sixteen Improv Everywhere agents set out to do this week.
This New-York group, now a global movement, whose aim is to cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places, gained international notoriety last January, when two hundred agents just froze up in New-York’s Grand Central Station and did not move for five minutes.

This week’s stunt, which was done in a food court of an LA mall, was a rare occasion where the group actually asked management’s permission beforehand. This allowed the group to practice the night before, hook up wireless microphones to the PA system, and hide video cameras behind two-way mirrors, unbeknownst to the patrons and staff of the mall.
The result is spectacular:


Can I Get A Napkin (Please) – Improv Everywhere – Lyrics

Cashier: Lemonade,
Spilt across the countertop
There’s ice and lemons everywhere now
I gotta clean it up!
Can I get a napkin please?
I’m gonna need some just like these
I’ve got three or four
But I might need more
Can I get a napkin please?!  
Mustard guy: Aw man!
Can I get a napkin too, by chance?
I have spilled some mustard on my pants
What a pain!
It’s a shame!
This is probably gonna stain
If I don’t get a napkin
Cashier: We both need napkins that’s a fact
Mustard guy: That’s true!
It’s napkins that we lack  
Cashier: We’re agreed
We’re in need  
Mustard guy: On our knees we humbly plead
Can we get a napkin please!  
Both: Can I get a napkin please?
We promise that we’re not wasting trees  
Cashier: I’ll take one from you
Mustard guy: And this hot girl too
Both: Can I get a napkin please?
Mother: I need a napkin!
I’ve got an infant in my arms
And I don’t mean to cause alarm
She just hurled
On my pearls
She’s my darling little girl
But can I get a napkin?  
Janitor: I’m the janitor
The working man you all ignore
Sweeping up this dirty floor
Boy, my left foot sure is sore
And I
Just want a chance
To show the world
That I can dance  
All: Can we get a napkin please?
Security guard: What the hell is goin’ on here?
Cashier: We need more napkins!
Security guard: I’m on it!
Get me some napkins up here stat
The lower food court’s where I’m at
Listen up
Girls and guys
I am authorized
To search you for napkins  
All: Can we get a nap…
Can we get a nap…
Can we get a napkin, please?
We promise that we’re not wasting trees
This cashier
Right here
Needs assistance, that is clear
Can she get a napkin…  
Charlie Todd: Here’s a napkin.
Cashier: Please!



Enjoy the playback:

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