Need a good publicity stunt? Want to be treated like a celebrity? Maybe all you need to do is act just like a celebrity if you want to get the celebrity VIP treatment. It’s an off the wall marketing idea, but one that really works.
Brett Cohen, a 21-year old student at the State University of New York at NewPaltz, put that theory to the test on July 27, 2012, in New York City, right outside NBC’s Rockefeller Center Studios, and got some surprising results, which say a lot about our culture. Namely, that the cult of celebrity and fame drive our society, and drive our society wild with desire.
Here’s what Mr. Cohen did. He dressed in sharp clothes, got his hair done, wore sunglasses, and strolled out of the NBC Studios at 49th Street. He was greeted by “bodyguards” and “assistants” who he had hired to be his entourage. He also had hired photographers who pretended to be paparazzi. A crowd amassed, informed by the hired “assistants” and “paparazzi” that a “big star” was about to come out of the TV studios — but onlookers were never told who Mr. Cohen really was. That he wasn’t a celebrity, but was just a “poseur.”
People flocked to him in droves.
Said Cohen to The New York Daily News, “The idea was, ‘I bet if we walked through with bodyguards and photographers, people would go nuts.'” “And that’s exactly what happened.”
Crowds grew as Mr. Cohen continued on to Times Square, accompanied by his entourage; by the time the whole escapade was over, he had taken almost 300 photos with the onlookers.
What did it all prove? That people just love a celebrity — even if they don’t know or understand why he’s famous.
He added — “I got a taste of fame, and it was good, but it’s not something I would want as part of my everyday life.”
He also landed an interview on the TODAY Show.
As a Boston marketing consultant, I believe that his publicity stunt was an innovative idea, an off-the-wall marketing idea — and certainly one that someone — with a product or service to sell — could implement.