How to effectively organize a Flash Mob?
July 18, 2007 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Some friends and I are organizing a flash mob (specifically a bubble-blowing flash mob). We've done some research online and seen a bunch of clips from around the world but were wondering if anyone out there in MetaFilter land could offer some advice for organizing an event like this -- a flash mob, viral marketing/'street team' campaign or anything you think that may help out!

- Advice for promoting / recruiting people? (We're targeting younger, artsy, college folks mainly through myspace, facebook, email campaigns and friends of friends) - Advice for locations? (We're aiming at doing it at a local open-air mall/market, which we kinda see they'll probably kick us out for trespassing after the fact, but it'll have happened by then)
- Advice for keeping the cops from shutting us down / arresting us? (IANAL, any out there? Any legal advice? It's a crazy post-911 world and I'd prefer not to get arrested or tasered for blowing bubbles)
- Any advice on how to signal / synchronize everyone on the day/time of the event?
- Anything we may not be thinking of? (This is our first time, so any and all advice is welcome!)
posted by jkl345 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Some people you might want to email are Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner of Newmindspace. Over the past two years they've brought a much needed whimsy release valve to Toronto. I am sure they would respond to your questions.

Don't call it a flash mob though, as Newmindspace are trying to get away from the flash mob label, they've got a sort of manifesto against the mobs on their site.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:58 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Post to the activities and events sections of craigslist, as well as to any local livejournal communities that may exist. Post at least 1-2 weeks out, then every other day or so leading up to the event.

Include clearly defined rules (like, only blow bubbles at other people blowing bubbles, not innocent bystanders who don't want soap in their eyes). Have some kind of signal worked out, like "start when the whistle blows." Have a set end point.

On day/time: just pick one arbitrarily, and blow a whistle, ring a bell, gang a gong, etc., to signal the beginning of the event.

When you say "open air mall," do you mean commercial space or public commons? You have a right to free assembly in public spaces, but you can get in real trouble if this is private property.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:59 PM on July 18, 2007

posted by yoga at 5:00 PM on July 18, 2007

I have not arranged one, but I have participated in several zombiewalks.

Postering will only work if you do something like attach tags to rip off, or have a MEMORABLE myspace address. Someone did a 'Grand Theft Auto: Elm City' scavenger hunt a few months ago here but their myspace address was something utterly unmemorable like 'gtaecftworly'. But if you're in an area where you can post in hip coffeeshops, this might work. I cannot recall how I heard of the first zombiewalk in Boston, but now I'm on the 'mailing list' of the guy arranging it. (If you're in Boston or nearby, e-mail me and I can send you his info.)

w/r/t legal things: DO NOT TOUCH ANYONE not in the group or ANYONE'S CAR or jaywalk, or, if you can help it, enter any properties en-masse. Public areas are better, but if you have to be in a privately owned space, be respectful of it. I wouldn't blow bubbles near anyone's handpainted socks or vases, though, because you don't want to cover things in soap. Be aware of the wind.

For arranging people, in our case, it was easy - people who looked like zombies congregated. We met in one place, went over some rules, and then went out. For something more eventful, texting/calling is popular, but a pain to set up with people with various accounts.

One way I've heard of is to have people meet up with you earlier, and you're sitting around being conspicuous, and you synch up your watches or set up some sort of sound cue (boombox, your phone on REALLY LOUD). Everyone wanders around a bit. First cue to to gather, second, a few minutes later, is to start bubbling.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:03 PM on July 18, 2007

Response by poster: "Open air mall" = one of those 'new urbanism' type malls with public sidewalks and streets running through it.

(I know, it's a fine line. If the cops ask us to disperse, we'll just disperse. On the weekends though, crowds tend to build up in this area so it won't be anything odd, unless we get more than a few hundred people.)
posted by jkl345 at 5:27 PM on July 18, 2007

A service like BroadTexter will send out alerts to multiple people. You should have everyone sign up, just in case you need to contact everyone simultaneously.
posted by suedehead at 5:45 PM on July 18, 2007

If you want this to be a really "surprising" flashmob, you might want to have some sort of noticeable signal to begin (ie "I will be wearing a red and green striped shirt and will stand up on such and such park bench and shout 'BUBBLES AWAY!'")... I mean, obviously you should tell them what time it'll start also, but everyone will have their watches set a little differently, and personally I think it's cooler when this stuff happens all at once.
posted by Zephyrial at 7:00 PM on July 18, 2007

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