What would happen if a furniture company left 24 designer chairs,
many equipped with GPS tracking technology, on the streets of New York?
Would people take them? Where would they end up?
Blu Dot, a furniture maker based in Minneapolis, found out with its “Real Good Experiment,” which it developed with branding firm Mono.
The experiment was equal parts marketing campaign for the chairs, which
retail for $129, and research into the recession-friendly phenomenon of
“curb mining” — the practice of nabbing household items left on street
In the days leading up to the placing of the chairs, the experiment
was picked up on blogs and gained a Twitter following. Some Blu Dot
enthusiasts were following real-time locations of the chairs in hopes
of nabbing one. The chairs also contained a hidden note, that when
discovered by the takers, indicated they should call a number to be
“The key to this idea was involvement,” Michael Hart, founder of
Mono, said. “Not just them taking the chairs, but the whole community
with this notion of an experiment and ‘Where will the chairs go?’”
Mono hired a video company, Supermarche,
to document the taking of the chairs from several camera angles. The
brighter and lighter chairs drew more attention and were nabbed faster,
according to Blu Dot.
Jonathan Levine noticed one of the bright red chairs one morning in
downtown Manhattan. “That was too good to be there,” he recalled
He and his son have been curb mining for several years, and his
findings include a pay phone, keyboard and working printer. “We see fax
machines and printers all the time,” he said. There’s also more
competition since the recession began, he added.
Like many other PUNCOs (a term coined by Supermarche and Mono to
indicate “potential unidentified new chair owners) who stumbled on the
chairs, Mr. Levine checked out his chair to make sure it wasn’t broken,
and did a double-take amid his surroundings to see who might have left
All told, Blu Dot believes the experiment generated nearly 60
million Web impressions, including blogs and Twitter posts. Unique
visitors to its site tripled in the first few days of the experiment.
Blu Dot, which brings in less than $100 million in annual sales, won’t
say how much it spent on the campaign, but sales director Medora Danz
said the company was happy with what resulted.
There was some concern it wouldn’t make an impression beyond “design
hipsters,” but Blu Dot found it was getting attention from the tech
community, including Fast Company and a security blog.
“We’ve always been a scrappy [company],” Ms. Danz said. Blu Dot
doesn’t anticipate bringing the experiment to other cities, though it
has fielded requests to do so. “We are cautious not to be perceived as
a marketing one-note,” she said.
Original article by: http://online.wsj.com/media/chair_D_20091214184828.