This advert from 2010 was one of a series of TV advertisements from T-mobile where a ‘flash mob’ was used to promote their mobile phone network. The advert shows real life people arriving at Heathrow airport, where they are unexpectedly greeted by unknown strangers singing songs to welcome them home.
The use of flash mob tapped in to a new craze, and those unfamiliar to it were surprised and entertained by the spontaneity and good humour of the phenomenon. Flash mobs raise spirits and bring strangers together; performers create, and the general public experience, a seemingly selfless act of happiness together. This is evident in the public’s reactions and is emphasised by the brand’s slogan ‘life is for sharing’. The heart-warming element of the advert, as well as its entertainment value make people happier, thus optimising the ‘How do I feel about it?’ heuristic (Schwarz & Clore, 1988). According to this heuristic people make mood-congruent judgments causing them to evaluate an attitude object (T-mobile) with their current mood (happy). This effect is exaggerated due to the airport setting; an emotive place where people are generally excited to be reunited with their loved ones, thus causing this loving emotion to be transferred to the brand.
The promoted product is hinted at when the people at the airport record the experience on their mobile phones. Putting the product (phone) in this unusual situation (flash mob) fits Greenberg, Mazursky and Solomon’s (1999) extreme situation template, exaggerating the attributes of the product (capturing the experience or telling your friends/family what you have witnessed). Furthermore, featuring real people makes use of the ‘just plain folk’ altercast where similarity between the source and recipient of a message increases persuasion. Viewers of the advert believe that they are similar to those ordinary people, therefore such special, spontaneous events could happen to them also, and as such it would be beneficial to use t-mobile to capture/share the event. Evidence of this similarity altercast comes from Stotland, Zander and Natsoulas (1961) who found that shared music preferences between a participant and confederate increased agreement of nonsense syllable ratings.
Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.
Schwarz, N., & Clore, G. L. (1988). How do I feel about it? Informative functions of affective states. In K. Fiedler & J. Forgas (Eds.), Affect, cognition, and social behaviour (pp. 44-62). Toronto: Hogrefe.
Stotland, E., A. Zander & T. Natsoulas (1961). Generalization of interpersonal similarity. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 62, 250-256.