Archive for October 2010

Beyond the Beat

October 19, 2010

For a short time anyway, I’ll be writing a recap & analysis piece for Beyond the Beat on each home men and women’s soccer game at OSU.  I’ve written three so far and have maybe five more to go over the remainder of the regular season.  It’s fun!

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Two cents on the latest PR stunt from OSU

October 4, 2010

Last week, there was a 3-months in the making flash mob on the MU Quad at OSU:

While the title music from the Bollywood film “Salaam-E-Ishq” boomed through the air, first one, and then another dancer stepped out of the crowd to join in the energetic choreography.

In all, more than 70 Oregon State University students and staff — co-conspirators in the surprise event, which had been months in the making — shed jackets and sweatshirts to reveal bright orange T-shirts and join in the synchronized dance moves.

Except that, you know, an event three months in the making and run by an intern who is working for OSU University Marketing and planned the event as part of OSU’s multi-year Powered by Orange campaign isn’t a flash mob.  It’s a PR stunt.  One GT commenter says as much:

But this wasn’t a flash mob — this was a PR stunt, months in the making, with details planned right down to having photographers and video cameras. Planned buy the folks who are charged with using social “new media” to advance the OSU brand and make folks feel good about being on campus.

A second commenter disagrees about the motivation of the person who organized things:

I feel that you’re being disrespectful to her in suggesting that she had an agenda beyond that of bringing together a diverse group of people to share in her love of dance.

Unfortunately, the most charitable explanation I think is viable is that even if her intention was pure – and frankly, as an intern at OSU Marketing, I have trouble believing that – it just means that the organizer of the event was used by OSU’s Powered by Orange campaign to advance the university’s image.  After all, flash mobs don’t usually happen with such buy-in from on high – and nor do they result in everyone wearing a T-shirt made just for the event.

This actually reminds me a bit of coolhunting, which is not a good thing.  I know a few people involved in this PR stunt, and they don’t seem to realize that one more activity that could have been filed under ‘play’ has now been subsumed under the Society of the Spectacle.  The lack of critical thinking/awareness is really depressing.