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The creative mind behind the latest flashmob advertisement talks about the logisitcs of staging the stunt

posted 26 Nov 2010, 09:31 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Nov 2010, 09:34 ]

One of the creative minds behind Saatchi and Saatchi's latest flashmob talks about the logistics of serenading unwitting passengers at Heathrow airport - and filming the event for an advertisement.

Warm welcomes from loved ones to airline passengers are a familiar sight at airports, but arriving off a flight and being serenaded by a flashmob of strangers is not the sort of greeting anyone would expect.

It did happen to some very surprised passengers at London's Heathrow Airport recently, in an elaborate production that took two weeks to rehearse with dozens of professional singers.

As unsuspecting people walked out of arrivals, professional singers bombarded them with travel-related songs such as "Passenger", "I've Never Been This Far Away From Home", "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Return of the Mac". Other performers made musical instrument sounds with just their mouths.

Eighteen different cameras were set up discreetly all around the terminal to record every move.

The flashmob was the creation of ad giant Saatchi & Saatchi for a viral ad campaign for mobile phone company T-Mobile

Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Partner Paul Silburn said the planning was meticulous.

"We had a night rehearsal a couple of nights before the actual event when Heathrow was closed. We got there at 11 '0 clock at night and went through until 5am when the airport reopened and we managed to get everybody in place and that's where we spotted where things might potentially go wrong and then adjusted what we were doing to take those sort of things into account. And then people also knew they were allowed a certain amount of flexibility to react to what the public might do," he told Reuters Television.

He said the idea was to create a moment and the element of the unknown helped with that:

"It's spontaneity. It's the kind of moment that would make you reach into your pocket, get your phone out and tell somebody about it so it has to have a believability and a spontaneity about it, it shouldn't feel contrived, even though we have spent an awful lot of of time planning it and rehearsing it, on the day it should feel quite organic."

Saatchi staff in the baggage area had their eyes out for potential targets, like the man who came out of arrivals to have "Return of the Mac" performed to him. He has become a firm favourite with people who've watched and commented on the ad on YouTube.

It's the third flashmob from Saatchi & Saatchi for T-Mobile.

The first was a huge group dance at London's Liverpool Station in January 2009. It's had almost 25 million hits on YouTube. Three months later the company staged a huge public sing-along in London's Trafalgar Square with popstar Pink.

Silburn said he believes the ads have touched a chord with people partly because of what's happening in the world right now.

"I think there's a lot to do with the economy and the way that people are feeling. We're going through some pretty tough times at the moment so bringing a moment to people that puts a smile on their faces I think resonates with people a lot. It kind of helps them forget about things like bills and jobs and that kind of thing just for a moment,." he explained.

And as an advertisement, it's proving to be very effective, with almost 4 and a half million views in less than a month.