Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Fedex Cup's Bizarre Grassroots Advertising Scheme

The PGA is resorting to pantomime to get people excited about the Fedex Cup.

While enjoying a casual stroll through City Hall Park in downtown NYC during my lunch break yesterday, I heard a commotion on one side of the park and being the curious fellow that I am I went over to see what the fuss was all about. When I arrived at the disturbance I observed a group of "spectators" who had made two rows about two people deep and 10-12 people long with a 10 foot space between them. They were clapping, hollering and generally making a bunch of noise about something.

The two rows were facing eachother but their attention was directed towards one end of the row. What they were staring at was a golfer (I believe it was the PGA's Jeff Quinney), a caddy and some people holding "Quiet Please" signs. The golfer stood as if he were pondering his next shot and took a few warmup swings. Finally, he took a swing, the crowd (amongst whom were clearly a dozen or so actors who must've been associated with the event) went nuts and the golfer put his club back in his bag and walked forward between the two rows towards his next shot. But here's the thing: there was no ball. The golfer took a swing at a fake ball off of the stone in the park and the crowd launched fake applause as if it was a hole-in-one or something. There were also no cameras other than the phone cameras held by the passers by. This went on for some time. The golfer took several fake shots (including a few fake putts) off sidewalks, curbs and whatever other surfaces they could find in lower manhattan and the fake gallery followed him around while he did it. And they walked around as if this were completely normal. No one broke character.

During this whole bizarre scene, there was no one handing out information about the Fedex Cup or the Barclays in Westchester this weekend, there was no one promoting the PGA or telling everyone what was going on, in fact no one in the group said ANYTHING except for "Quiet Please!" I thought for a second that this was some kind of activist group protesting golf or symbollically trying to make some statement about America's wealth disparity or something that those weird hippies do in that park all the time. Only after I noticed the small "Fedex Cup" symbol on the bottom of the "Quient Please" signs did I put together that this was some bizarre advertisement for the Barclay's and the Fedex cup. It was kind of amusing for the dozens of Eurotourists who crowd the area during that time of day, but for anyone who regularly frequents the area or anyone who might be interested in watching golf, it was fucking weird as hell.

Now, I'm no advertising whiz, but I think the idea that pantomime is an effective way to get people amped up about the coming golf playoff seems like an incredible waste of everyone's time. When I see mime's pulling on fake ropes or escaping fake boxes it doesn't make me want to watch "The Illusionist" or read about Harry Houdini (or Marcel Marseau for that matter), it makes me want to punch that mime in the face. And that's exactly how I felt yesterday. And that's kinda how I feel about the Fedex Cup right now as a result. I'm not sure that's the result they were looking for but that's the risk you run when you starting miming through the streets of NYC.

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