So last Wednesday 9/7/2011 I had the pleasure of being an attendant of a “Free Cee-lo Green Concert” with a friend of mine. I am always weary of the word free these days especially when a company is promoting such as free. As we get to Hard Rock Live at Universal I quickly come to the conclusion that this is going to be some sort of spectacle.
I was unaware of the “Summer Krush” campaign until I had entered the doors and boy was I going to get a lesson tonight in marketing. Quickly I became aware that this event was going to be used to promote the Samsung Infuse 4G (Exclusively at AT&T) as the MC of the evening reminded us about every 30 minutes and probably 50+ times during the evening.
So it’s a marketing event. That’s cool. They had little kiosks everywhere featuring the phone and accessories as well as games you can get on Android. They had a neat set of displays that showed the phone could be connected to an HD display so you could game on a big screen. Angry Birds was prominently featured. They had swag of all sorts from shirts, cups, cap stick, and various other nonsense. I am fine with all of this. In fact I think this is a great way to get a captive audience to view a product they never would have cared about educated about a product. It helps to know I am interested in changing careers to marketing in the near future so I am always interested in spectacles such as this.
They even had something I had heard about in tech blogs but never seen in person. They had a live-feed Twitter wall. Two projectors on each side of the stage displayed a very Matrix-esque mesh of current Twitters that had mentioned @SummerKrush. This is another great marketing ploy as it not only got people to use Twitter to promote their concert and thus their product to all of their respective audiences, but they offered prizes for random tweets they would show. The wall was a great idea and I think a lovely party favor. People tweeted random nonsense just to get on the wall. At first you could tell the monitoring was strict and only the most devote “Please @SummerKrush let me win a ____” but as the night progressed and the marketing team started hitting the sauce more racy tweets such as “I wanna grope this girl in front of me @SummerKrush” and more showed up on the board. It provided mild entertainment in what we would soon realize was a much longer ride than we invested in.
They really packed the house for this one. They had two lines outside. One for people who had signed up for this event prior (and thus were emailed tickets instead of requesting them from the site) and then the people who had just printed them off from the site. We waited outside for a good 45 minutes after doors were suppose to open it even started raining. Whatever it’s a free concert going to work through the small faults regardless. Little did we know that Cee-Lo wasn’t going to hit the stage until 10:10. So we sat as a captive audience while their MC pimped AT&T being the most wonderful network and this phone being the second coming of Christ himself. They even gave away a guitar and phone to people from the tweet wall. All the while we got top 40 Billboard Pop hits dating back to 2000. It felt very much like a high school prom with more drunk under age kids than I care to be near and their creepy chaperone parents.
They made no mention on when Cee-lo would get on stage and sort of shrugged off any mention that he was even playing that evening. A lot of the crowd feared we had been suckered and Cee-lo would “mysteriously” not be able to play that evening. The tweet wall humored up as they couldn’t control the influx of “I don’t care about phones or guitars WTF is Cee-lo!!!” posts. I can attest that I even mentioned them to get this point across.
As all hope was lost the curtains finally opened at 9:45 to show a filled stage with plenty more AT&T/Samsung promotions. The band had yet to even do a sound check as a few of the roadie crew scrambled around the stage. I’ve been to plenty of concerts and maybe it was me but no one of the crew seemed anywhere near concerned about the ability of the equipment they just needed it setup so they could play and get the hell out of here.
Finally after 10 Cee-lo finally hits the stage
I am very happy that he did not phone in his performance. It is very hard to tell how artist will perform at these promotional events as the crowd is normally not their “fans” and they are paid at a far different scale as if they were touring themselves.
The audio was atrocious and I couldn’t understand a single word he said during non songs but him and his crew played their hearts out. They played singles from Cee-Lo’s stand alones such as “Closet Freak” and “Fuck You” and happily played some from Gnarls Barkley with “Smiling Faces”, “Gone Daddy Gone” and of course “Crazy” There was even a song or two from his latest album Lady Killer.
He rocked an all girl band and came out in all black with a blinged out pistol necklace and a watch that could land a Jet with only its sparkle. I was a little saddened I didn’t get to see one of his many multi-color Mississippi Pimp outfits or even a bathrobe but once again free concert.
I was reminded again that this was a free concert as he says he is on his last song… at 10:45. What? Two hours of waiting for a 45 minute concert? He performs two more songs instead of one (oooh bonus) and the night is wrapped up pretty quickly.
This event taught me a few things. Mostly, this is how to throw a marketing event. It was so “inspiring” so to say it got me to write this post about it. Even if I didn’t want to I have helped not only promote their phone and concert series. It also made it so I must now make sure to pay and see Cee-lo next time he comes into town (if he comes back into town) because I really would like to see him perform at full capacity with proper band tuning and instruments. All and all it wasn’t a completely horrible time. It wasn’t the best investment of the 5 hours I spent during the event but for the price of parking at Universal it wasn’t a waste of my money. Would I do it again? No, most likely not. But they did pull me in for this one, which in a marketing world is a win for them.