The following excerpt is from the article MP3 Event Mashed Up Fun, Cooperation, Sales written by Cindy Ruckman, director of Publications for the National Association of College Stores, and published in Campus Marketplace.
One evening last August, more than 300 students sprinted madly around the University of Wyoming’s campus in Laramie, stopping only to perform crazy group acts like a slow-motion “light saber” battle with glow sticks to the sounds of “Chariots of Fire.”
It was an MP3 Experience and all the doing of the University Store.
“This created a lot of buzz on campus,” said Manager Misty Eaton in the Flash Session, Visual Impact and Marketing Trends in Retail, at CAMEX 2013 in Kansas City, MO. Her co-presenter was Delinda Bahm, sales executive for Components Design Studio, Lawrence, KS.
The event also gave the store an opportunity to sell a lot of tee shirts, repurpose its catalog photography for an in-store apparel promotion, and partner with other campus groups.
An MP3 Experience is “similar to a flash mob, however, it’s all audio,” Eaton explained.
In short, participants download an audio file to a phone or music player. Then at a designated time and gathering place, they all play the file together and follow its instructions, such as forming a dance train, having a group dance-off, or creating a mass of light with their collective phone screens.
“We got the idea from Improv Everywhere, a company in New York. They do this in masses in large cities,” Eaton said. However, when her staff first approached her about doing the event, she was dubious about the amount of detailed planning and preparation involved.
“We literally had to treat it as a movie script. Lots of rehearsal,” she said.
The store decided to produce the event with the help of five other campus entities, including student government, housing and dining, and the student activities office.
In addition to downloading the audio file from the University Store’s web site, participating students needed to pick up a prop kit from the store in advance. The kit contained things participants would be using during the MP3 Experience, such as a kazoo, crayons, a bubble-blower, “and some really cool glow sticks,” Eaton said.