Video: PR stunt at Vancouver International Airport was no flash mob

Is a flash mob still a flash mob when it has corporate sponsorship?

The latest example of such a purported flash mob “broke out” over the weekend at the Vancouver International Airport.

It featured the local band Abandon Paris playing an almost-unrecognizable rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and dancers from the Arts Umbrella Dance Company doing their thing in the check-in area.

Did I mention that Tetrahedron Event Filming was on hand to record the event and post a video on YouTube so it could go “viral”?

The video of “Operation Snowflake”—viewed over 33,000 times—concludes with the logo of Air Canada, which sponsored the event.

It’s being called a “flash mob” in a variety of media.

Wikipedia—always a reliable source—defines a flash mob as “a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, then disperse”.

“The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms, protests, and publicity stunts,” Wikipedia’s article on the subject stated at time of writing.

So, why don't we just call Air Canada’s “flash mob”—like we would a "protest" sponsored by a multinational corporation—what it was?

A public-relations stunt or, to be charitable, a performance.

Because it sure wasn't a flash mob.

You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.

Comments (17) Add New Comment
wow
is there anything you WON'T complain about Hui?
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LeeD
Please.
Did you really just appeal to the authority of Wikipedia?
"Flash Mobs" have never been anything worth defending from corporate interests.
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@kmyles
Who benefits from this "publicity"? The dancers have the most to gain. People are who fly out of YVR on Canadian are not any more likely to want to fly with this company because of the above 5 minute performance. In face, some might be turned off. Get back to work and get us in the air as fast as possible.
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D-Mob
Hui's just upset his "Solo Flash Dance" only has six views on YouTube.
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Glen Callender
I don't think Hui has ever complained about me.
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Andrew Fleming
Air Canada: Even if they do something cool, it still kinda sucks.
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D. Zaster
Everything about this is fakey-flakey. The last time I was in that check-out area, I had to listen to an obnoxious Air Canada staffer demanding cash payments from all the people who had more than one bag to check.

If Air Canada wants to create a REAL flash-mob, they could get their employees to be polite and helpful to the people who pay for the privilege of being abused by them. THAT would be an event in itself. Hell, it would be g*d damned miracle.
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d-generation
its a lame quasi-astroturf PR tactic. like it or dislike it, no one can argue that these lowlife corporate pricklickers aren't desperately jockeying for position to invade your head at any possible opportunity they can find.
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crow in the tree
painful to watch this forced fake attempt
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yui
All the flash mobs that have gone viral have been "sponsored" by large corporations or large non-profit organizations as a means of public awareness. Do your homework and give some praise to the artists who gave their time to bring so cheer to the airport!
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John S.
Why not just call it an advertisement? Who the hell cares what you call it? It's not like they were throwing passengers onto the tarmac.
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Wendi G
I knew it was all over with when my little old auntie showed up in a Che tee-shirt and roach clip earrings, without understanding either one...
BigCorp always, always rips off the agenda of the free to try and make money..hopefully they will be ignored, and flashmobbery will continue undiscouraged..
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Dandy note
It's a cash mob!
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petra Hartt
poor music but at least it is something. let us hear it though for the real unpaid mobberrs. keep it up mobbers plse
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average rape ape
dance like nobody's watching? just add money
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Bob B
Cash mob... I think we have coined a new term here. Time to find a new art form to turn trendy and cool and turn it into money
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David123
What separates a flash mob from any sort of public performance then?

If Air Canada can pay a bunch of dancers to perform in their building why then our school play was a flash mob x10 bigger than that. We even had a set, lighting, and a script.

Or maybe call performances what they are, protests what they are, and flash mobbing culture what they are.
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