Thursday, January 7

Improv Everywhere and The Salvation Army

My friend Ryan Drumwright makes a guest blog appearance today, talking about a holiday tradition that got a bit richer this year. Thanks Ryan! Jim.

The Salvation Army bell ringers. It's not Christmas without them. While I always try to drop a dollar or two into the bucket, it can be easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy and ignore these hard-working employees.

Last Christmas, Improv Everywhere decided they were going to make one Manhattan bell ringer impossible to ignore. The group, famous for pranks such as "No Pants! Subway Ride" and "Frozen Grand Central," teamed up with a local handbell choir to execute "Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce." One-by-one 13 Improv Everywhere "agents" stood by a lucky Salvation Army bell ringer and played "Joy to the World." Smiling pedestrians stopped, took pictures and donated money. An Improv Everywhere agent recorded the experience, and posted a video of the prank to YouTube. The video now has over 432,000 views, and a Google Blogs search reveals there are 4,160 blog entries sharing the experience. It is clear the "Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce experience" has outlived the two-minute performance on 59th and Lexington. All of this is thanks to the Internet and social media.

What can we as "experience architects" take from this holiday prank?

1) Bigger isn't always better. Simple tactics can lead to a positive experience.
2) Think different. Build an experience that stops people in their tracks and hits their "E-Spot." This can be done by using emotional appeal, the element of surprise, or even the "magic of Christmas."
3) Life is better when it is shared. So are experiences. Create an experience people will want to share with friends and family both in real life and on the social web.

And now for the thing you have all been waiting for... The video!;

What's your experience?

Ryan Drumwright

Digital Strategist for the CLIO Awards at Social Rocket
Founder of the Account Planners of New York City community
Senior Integrated Marketing Communication student;

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