Thursday, May 9, 2013

Flash Mob For Hire

This what happens when the 
world's oldest profession goes viral.
 Spontaneity for Hire: Flash Mobs Go Corporate
Companies Hire Dancers to Break Out in Public; Shimmying for Shoes, Chicken
Trade-show goers roaming the floor at a natural-products expo in Anaheim, Calif., this spring suddenly faced dancers who materialized out of nowhere and erupted in a gyrating routine. Attendees glanced up from their swag bags to see dozens of shaking behinds rendering the Electric Slide to Kool & the Gang's "Celebration."
It seemed like just another "flash mob," one of those sudden gatherings of people in public places made popular a decade ago by participants who often coordinated the events via email. Hewing to flash-mob convention, the mob erupted unexpectedly, and participants later slapped videos of it on YouTube to spread through social media. 
There was one difference: This mob was paid for. 
Midway through the dance, servers clad in aprons reading "Amy's Kitchen" joined in with Travolta-inspired disco moves. The company wanted to surprise the crowd "with something new and different," says Ben Sloane, corporate events coordinator at Amy's Kitchen Inc., an organic-food brand. 
The original flash mobs often had little obvious purpose and were decidedly noncommercial gatherings by amateurs, says Bill Wasik, who is widely credited with creating the first flash mob, in 2003.

Amy's Kitchen's Mr. Sloane, by comparison, says his company paid $1,500 for the dance, hiring an outfit called Dance Mob Nation that specializes in organizing the pseudo-spontaneous mobs for corporate clients. 
Dance Mob Nation, based in Los Angeles, says it charges an average of $2,000 to $4,000 per event and as much as $10,000, depending on the presentation. Flash Mob America, also of L.A., says it charges $5,000 to $80,000 to stage impromptu dance breakdowns at corporate events.
Interested readers can go to the link to view a four-minute video pushing the mob-for-hire concept, preceded, of course, by a seventeen-second commercial message from an unrelated WSJ advertiser. Caption under the video sez in part  "Flash mobs, those unexpected performances in public places, have gone legit. Companies are paying thousands of dollars for 'impromptu' mobs to spice up conferences and sales meetings. WSJ's Linda Freund reports."

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