A Different, Very Real, Kind of Social Network – We All Want to Be Part of Something Bigger

April 13, 2009
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Today I’m very pleased to interview Comedian, Author and Founder of Improv Everywhere, Charlie Todd. If you don’t know what Improv Everywhere is, you may not know what I feel it has in common with social networks, marketing, and of course why it’s so fun and cool. The best thing to do is to check out their site and read their FAQ. Then if you like you can sign up as one of their agents as I have.

I’ve included a few videos of some of Improv Everywhere’s Missions in the post below to help you understand what all the fuss is about and why this stuff is all over the web.

TOM: I think what you’ve been doing is great, and from some of the research we’ve been doing on social networks we’ve seen the need for people to feel like they’re part of something larger. I think perhaps that’s part of the reason Social networks have been as successful as they’ve been. What do you think is the reason so many have embraces Improv Everywhere?

CHARLIE: I do agree that people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s exhilarating to execute something with a massive team of people. It’s also just plain fun, and a nice way to be social with others.

TOM: How if at all have you used social

Today I’m very pleased to interview Comedian, Author and Founder of Improv Everywhere, Charlie Todd. If you don’t know what Improv Everywhere is, you may not know what I feel it has in common with social networks, marketing, and of course why it’s so fun and cool. The best thing to do is to check out their site and read their FAQ. Then if you like you can sign up as one of their agents as I have.

I’ve included a few videos of some of Improv Everywhere’s Missions in the post below to help you understand what all the fuss is about and why this stuff is all over the web.

TOM: I think what you’ve been doing is great, and from some of the research we’ve been doing on social networks we’ve seen the need for people to feel like they’re part of something larger. I think perhaps that’s part of the reason Social networks have been as successful as they’ve been. What do you think is the reason so many have embraces Improv Everywhere?

CHARLIE: I do agree that people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s exhilarating to execute something with a massive team of people. It’s also just plain fun, and a nice way to be social with others.

TOM: How if at all have you used social media to get your message out?

CHARLIE: Yes, but I have been doing this since 2001, years before that term. I maintain an email list and will use Facebook to spread the word on some of my events.

 

TOM: I think much like on social networks and other web 2.0 media corporate America has been slow in accepting, and or uncomfortable with consumer generated media on the web. It seems that this has been the case with some of your missions as well. I understand Best Buy Freaked Out and called the Cops when you pulled the stunt with 80 Agents entering a best Buy with Blue polo shirts and Khaki pants. Did corporate at Best Buy speak to you afterwards, if so how did that conversation go?

CHARLIE: Nope.

TOM: The T-Mobile Dance campaign (with over 10 million YouTube views) was inspired by Improv Everywhere and received great attention on the web and in the media. What was your involvement in that?

CHARLIE: None whatsoever.

Tom: The T-Mobile campaign seemed so similar to what you are doing, do you know if it was at least inspired by your work?

CHARLIE: Based on the fact that about 500 people have emailed me to ask about the T-Mobile stunt, yes, I’d say they took some inspiration from us.

TOM: I know you’ve had interest from marketers wanting to retain your services to promote their brand, product or services. While I understand you wish to separate this type of sponsorship from the official Improv Everywhere effort, what are the opportunities for marketers to work with you?

CHARLIE: I enjoy doing corporate work when the project is right and I can keep the work entirely separate from Improv Everywhere. I sometimes work as a consultant for brands and agencies. Occasionally I will take on sponsorship for a project I put on my own site, but in that situation the content is not branded and I maintain complete creative control.

TOM: I understand you feel the “Where The Hell is Matt” with very popular on the web (over 20 million YouTube views) is a good example of a brand sponsorship opportunity. Could you explain what it is and why you felt this was an appropriate sponsorship? Who is Matt? How did the Stride Gum sponsorship come about?

CHARLIE: You’ll have to ask Matt who he is and how he got the gig. I don’t know. I think it’s a great example because it’s a wonderful video, an amazing project, and the brand tie-in is incredibly minimal, a little thank you credit at the end.

TOM: Can you tell me anything about a successful corporate sponsored stunt that you have been personally involved in?

CHARLIE: Yahoo! sponsored our Mp3 Experiment Tour last year.

 

TOM: You have a book coming out, Causing A Scene. Can you tell me a bit about what the book is about?

CHARLIE: The Improv Everywhere book comes out on May 19. It’s the behind-the-scenes story of how we pulled off some of our greatest pranks over the past 8 years.

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I included one more video of one of the more recent Missions, the “No Pants Subway Ride 2009″. But check out YouTube or Improv Everywhere for more.

 

Would you have participated? ;)

Link to original postTom H. C. Anderson – Anderson Analytics