Really? An NRA dancing flash mob? Really?

by Ben Martin, CAE on June 2, 2010 · 8 comments

Some folks seem to be intrigued or even enamored with the National Restaurant Association’s dancing flash mob at a recent event. Pardon me if I seem a bit skeptical, but I’m wondering:

  • If I were an NRA member, would this would this 21st century version of the electric slide make me more or less likely to attend an NRA event in the future? (Out of respect for others, I prefer to do my dancing in dark, crowded places, where my ridiculous moves can’t be easily discerned — some of you can attest to this)
  • What value did this add to the event?
  • How is it that everyone in the flash mob knows the dance? Was there a flash mob rehearsal? (oh, look! there was)
  • Why is there a lady holding a red “Flash Mob Dance” sign?
  • Couldn’t they have done a flash mob around something, say, restaurant-related?

The whole thing seems a bit too forced, contrived, and — dare I say, corporate — to me.

Lesson learned? Social media is usually best left to the community.

{ 1 trackback }

Splash: Refreshment for your small staff organization » Blog Archive » Friday Top Five: Post-GSAE
June 4, 2010 at 9:40 am

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Gertie Cranker June 3, 2010 at 6:15 am

Well, you know what? I think the Realtors would have loved a flash mob in Washington at their last meeting. Here’s why: they love being ‘in’, they’re big on social media in a lightweight and fun sense, they don’t go to meetings to be totally professional, and a lot of them would love to have the opportunity to ‘ham it up’. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong–but it is an appealing technique for a lot of members. Don’t sell it short.


Sue Pelletier June 3, 2010 at 10:39 am

I’m with Gertie–for the right group (aka, one with me in it), this could be a blast. The moves are simple and repetitive enough that anyone could catch on pretty quickly, and no one has to do it if they don’t want to.

I don’t know enough about its meeting to know if this was aligned with its goals or not, but having fun in the convention center can’t possibly hurt.


Joe Rominiecki June 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

I’m with Ben on this one, and not just b/c I’m not much of a dancer. This is the third dancing flash mob video I’ve seen in recent weeks (the other two were at colleges in my home state), and I find them a bit tiresome. They’re really just planned-but-unannounced dance performances, not so much flash mobs.

You raise some great questions, though. I’d say the one about value and the one about relating it more to your association’s specific industry are the most important ones, because if you focus on the latter, you might increase the former.

For people who participate, I’m sure it’s a fun bonding experience that gets them engaged, which also can’t hurt, but that kind of value could be created with any number of extra-curricular activities.

And as for whether it would make someone attend the meeting, I’d say the flash mob dance has one potential upside there: when videotaped, it could be used to go somewhat viral and attract some brief attention to your meeting among people who might not have otherwise considered going. Not sure how much actual conversion there would be, but attention certainly can’t hurt. The whole thing is pretty harmless, though, so if your association’s volunteers decide to do one, more power to them, but I wouldn’t devote staff time to setting one up.


Lynn Morton June 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

This does come off as a bit contrived to me. The beauty of the “dancing flashmob” is that the group doing it is flawless, there is not leader, there is only the group. I’d say the best example I’ve seen of it is what Steppenwolf Theatre Company did for their 2009 – 2010 season (

Why did it work?

Because they are theatre people, they live to perform. It was an extension of what they do naturally and though there was a couple that started at each location, they melted into the beauty of the ensemble.

If NRA wanted to do something in the flash mob vein, I’d say something having to doing with making food. What if everyone involved brought an ingredient and they made a meal with what was brought? You can also tie that to a more humanitarian project and prepare the meal at a local soup kitchen or something.


Maddie Grant June 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Haters. I thought it was awesome. The one we’re planning at #ASAE10 will be awesome. And yes, it has been done before (but not for ASAE) and yes, it’s a little contrived (but not one of the 100+ people signed up to be part of it has been in one before) and yes, it’s pre-planned (every flash mob is, though not every flash mob has choreography.)

Feel free to go sit in a corner and be a bah humburg all by yourselves while the rest of us have some awesome fun.


Kristi Donovan June 15, 2010 at 7:46 am

Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I had a similar reaction. It absolutely felt contrived and I don’t see what value it adds. And anyone can set up something similar with or without social media. It is a bunch of people dancing in a convention center, it is completely unoriginal, and I’m no dance diva (I too prefer a dark crowded room with blaring music if I’m going to bust a move) but the dancing is lame too. It just rubs me the wrong way. Ultimately, who cares?


Tom Keenan June 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I was a participant in the event and attended the NRA show as an exhibitor for The Brooklyn Bagel Slicer Company, Inc. I am the guy in the apron that says, “Brooklyn Bagel Slicer”, although you can’t read it.

I participated in the hope that the company’s logo would show in the video and provide some free viral marketing. I also participated in it because it was fun and a great break from regular show activities. As of today it has hit 10,000 views. Not large by other Flash Mob Dance standards, but significant just the same.

Yes there was a rehearsal video and early that morning people who were interested in participating had a room they could go to for practice, and I know that I wouldn’t have participated with out that opportunity to practice.

I can tell you that those who participated loved it, those who watched seemed to be enjoying it and at 10,000 views and still going, I believe that the NRA show received some viral marketing that it wouldn’t have received otherwise.

Will it bring any more people to the NRA show? Probably not, but would I would also ask if more people participate in a Flash Mob Dance next year? No Doubt! Why, because it was just fun, whether you can dance or not.

My only regret is that I did not, “dance like no one was watching”, and there was at least one individual who did, and I invite you to watch it again and see if you can pick the person out.


Leave a Comment