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May 6, 2006 2:15 AM   Subscribe

80 improv artists invade Best Buy disguised as employees. Predictably the real Best Buy employees freak out. (via /.)
posted by grouse (120 comments total)

 
Go here for more scences. Recommended: Best Gig Ever, The Moebius, The Amazing Hypnotist.
posted by mikeweeney at 2:22 AM on May 6, 2006


*scenes. it's late, sue me.
posted by mikeweeney at 2:23 AM on May 6, 2006


No, mike, we have to send you a C&D letter first...

back on topic:
So who's the Geek Squad now?
posted by wendell at 2:32 AM on May 6, 2006


See, amongst everything else this shows, it demonstrates that Best Buy need better staff training programs in selling. How awesome would it have been for the store management if their sales staff had actually managed to sell something to one or more of the IE agents? But no, instead they called the police.

Can I help you? Please.
posted by Ritchie at 2:53 AM on May 6, 2006


Brilliant! It shows how scared and confused some people get when something is different.
posted by homodigitalis at 3:05 AM on May 6, 2006


what does that color blue remind me of...?
posted by beno at 3:13 AM on May 6, 2006


Seriously, they dialed 911?! For a bunch of people in blue shirts and khakis? Makes one wonder exactly where humor is allowed in America without it causing a major civil disturbance ...
posted by bcveen at 4:02 AM on May 6, 2006


If I was a Best Buy manager, and I'd seen the Thomas Crown Affair, I'd be calling 911.
posted by matthewr at 4:41 AM on May 6, 2006


I sort of, psuedo, virtually know the guy who was doing the photos that day ... all 128 photos from that day are here.
posted by bcveen at 4:57 AM on May 6, 2006


Security guards and managers started talking to each other frantically on their walkie-talkies and headsets. "Thomas Crown Affair! Thomas Crown Affair!," one employee shouted.

They make it sound like they have a specific contingency plan for that situation. Best Buy. Best Buy.
posted by rkent at 4:57 AM on May 6, 2006


Makes one wonder exactly where humor is allowed in America without it causing a major civil disturbance ...

Yes, but they have to had expected something to happen, or they wouldn't have a humerous article to write.

If they'd gone there and the managers had just given them a polite smile and moved on...well, I can't fathom that ever happening, anywhere. Of course, it would have been cooler if the managers had sent the real employees home for a day off and made use of the free labor...
posted by Jimbob at 5:08 AM on May 6, 2006


Seriously, they dialed 911?! For a bunch of people in blue shirts and khakis? Makes one wonder exactly where humor is allowed in America without it causing a major civil disturbance ...

Yeah, after they couldn't find the number of the local PD.

Makes one wonder exactly where a guy can run a business in America without having his store used as a venue for someone else's strange sense of humor.
posted by three blind mice at 5:10 AM on May 6, 2006


Very good -- although I don't know that this would freak people out in Britain. They would suss what was going on straight away...
posted by catchmurray at 5:16 AM on May 6, 2006


People need to realise we are living in a post 9/11 environment where wearing blue polo shirts and khakis is not acceptable.
posted by fire&wings at 5:38 AM on May 6, 2006


Awesome.
posted by bardic at 5:57 AM on May 6, 2006


Yeah, it's totally hilarious when a bunch of rich people (well, richer than the average Best Buy employee) dress up like minimum wage employees and bother them at work. I guess I don't have much of a sense of humor about this stuff, but I can't stand when internet hipsters feel the need to involve everyone around them in their little wacky pranks, especially when the victims of the joke are people who probably have enough stress in their lives without having to deal with a bunch of net geeks with too much free time on their hands.

Ha ha, aren't we clever? We made the manager of a Best Buy call the police!
posted by MegoSteve at 6:11 AM on May 6, 2006


For my money, their best scene ever was when the had Anton Checkov do a reading at Barnes & Noble.
posted by gsteff at 6:31 AM on May 6, 2006


@MegoSteve:

Buhuhu! RTFA - some of your poor low wage slaves actually had some fun was well. I call that a nice break from the regular routine at work. A good prank is simply a good prank.
posted by homodigitalis at 6:33 AM on May 6, 2006


And Best Buy is notoriously uptight.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:35 AM on May 6, 2006


Seriously, they dialed 911?! For a bunch of people in blue shirts and khakis?
Not that calling 911 for white collar crimes is necessarily helpful, but people in blue shirts and khakis are perfectly suspicious if you look at who commits these types of crimes.
Yeah, it's totally hilarious when a bunch of rich people (well, richer than the average Best Buy employee) dress up like minimum wage employees and bother them at work.
No one at Best Buy makes minimum wage. Instead, the criminals that manage the staff at Best Buy pay good hourly salaries and then, after you fulfill their immediate need, will cut your hours back until your working so little that you quit on your own. Classic Best Buy strategy.
I can't stand when internet hipsters feel the need to involve everyone around them in their little wacky pranks
If you've ever met anyone involved with an improv group that can pull off an event like this, you'd realize that they're not hipsters. On the other hand, they're probably quite pleased that you think so.
Ha ha, aren't we clever? We made the manager of a Best Buy call the police!
It's pretty funny that the manager called the police, who after asking a number of questions, determined that the manager was wasting tax payer money and their time. That's great stuff.

For future Best Buy managers who happen to be reading this, as long as the people in blue shirts and khakis that are not your employees are not causing any harm, ignoring them is the best solution. Come to think of it, given the level of skill of your average Best Buy employee and the sheer lack of employees to help every single customer who wants help, think of this as free labor. Hell, offer them name tags.
posted by sequential at 6:40 AM on May 6, 2006


judging from my own experiences at best buy, some of the real employees are posing as real employees as well...
posted by fisherKing at 6:40 AM on May 6, 2006


It sounds like a good set up, that has no pay-off. Of course, if you have a good pay-off, then you can't really claim that you're not doing more than wearing a blue shirt and khakis. Sure, it's kind of fun for the people doing it, but to create a whole document of the event seems weird, and repetitive. "I helped quite a few people, because my clothes were similar to the Best Buy uniform! Lots of people figured out that something was up, because it was!"

*yawn*
posted by 23skidoo at 6:42 AM on May 6, 2006


I got the impression that the actual minimum wage employees thought the whole thing was pretty funny. It was only the managers that were freaking out.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:43 AM on May 6, 2006


Best Buy Workers in NYC make more than minimum wage. And when I worked in retail I would be ecstatic if something this interesting happened. The drudgery is worse than the stress.
posted by I Foody at 6:45 AM on May 6, 2006


I love these guys.
Everyone of their pranks is so cool, laid back, pushing the limit of disturbance but just so.
My favorite report is the one from the dad with two kids, which is kind of a litmus test. Obviously, the kids get it: it's make believe! It's fun! They giggle! Mission accomplished.
posted by bru at 6:47 AM on May 6, 2006


These guys were actually featured on This American Life a couple months ago. I'd try and find a link, but the show is pay to listen to anyhoots.
posted by Atreides at 6:55 AM on May 6, 2006


This was fantastic, and the best I/E prank yet. The kneejerk hate from Mego and TBM just makes those two seem like tools...
posted by klangklangston at 6:55 AM on May 6, 2006


You just have to understand though, that from a federal standpoint, wearing royal blue polos & khakis...it just isn't right.
posted by tastybrains at 7:23 AM on May 6, 2006


Atreides: This American Life is free to listen in streaming audio. It only costs to download.
posted by cilantro at 7:31 AM on May 6, 2006


Brilliant! It shows how scared and confused some people get when something is different.
posted by homodigitalis at 3:05 AM PST on May 6 [!]


Everyone can be farked with, even internet hipsters.
posted by craniac at 7:32 AM on May 6, 2006


The kneejerk hate from Mego and TBM just makes those two seem like tools...

C'mon MegoSteve, let's you and I get a bunch of other tools to dress up like klangklangston and annoy him at work. And we'll film it! It will be, like, the kewlest, cleverest prank ever.
posted by three blind mice at 7:33 AM on May 6, 2006


I agree: all setup, no payoff. What did they create? The Day Best Buy Was Severely Overstaffed? They could have at least started singing or doing ballet or something.
posted by damehex at 7:34 AM on May 6, 2006


A good prank is simply a good prank.

Let me know when you come across one.

the best I/E prank yet

Wow. I'm glad I missed the earlier ones then.

makes those two seem like tools...

Mind your backs, folks. Another tool coming through.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:35 AM on May 6, 2006


It's like they invaded and had no plan of action after they got there.
posted by jaronson at 7:41 AM on May 6, 2006


The best pranks are those which harm neither property nor people (either physically or mentally), but disrupt the normal order of things. Improv Everywhere seems to do that more often than not. Sometimes it's very funny, sometimes it's just weird. I still much prefer doing these things on my own with a couple of friends and not documenting them.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:44 AM on May 6, 2006


"C'mon MegoSteve, let's you and I get a bunch of other tools to dress up like klangklangston and annoy him at work. And we'll film it! It will be, like, the kewlest, cleverest prank ever."

You can be drunk and bearded and stand around in my home office. Or my office office, which I share with two other people.
How come the Best Buy floor employees got this and you don't?

"I agree: all setup, no payoff. What did they create? The Day Best Buy Was Severely Overstaffed? They could have at least started singing or doing ballet or something."

The payoff was the overreaction of the Best Buy management and the mild discomfort of people who assumed that they worked there.
This had absolutely no harm and made people be more observant when regarding the world around them. How is that bad? Because it annoyed power-hungry managers?
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 AM on May 6, 2006


"...annoy him at work..."

The only annoying thing the IE agents did was wear the uniform.

"Lighten up, Francis."
posted by jaronson at 7:51 AM on May 6, 2006


I love Improv Everywhere so much... and for more fun, Prangstgrup's musical numbers are also genius.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:52 AM on May 6, 2006


""Lighten up, Francis.""

Yeah, no doubt.
posted by klangklangston at 8:09 AM on May 6, 2006


so it's a bunch of people fucking with other people who are hard a work. awesome. you guys are right that is funny.

The payoff was the overreaction of the Best Buy management and the mild discomfort of people who assumed that they worked there.
This had absolutely no harm and made people be more observant when regarding the world around them.


? yeah , i would have been shocked as well at the overreaction of the management, i guess its good they brought vid cams with them to document this amazing turn of events. otherwise we would just get to here about it instead of being bored by their obnoxious behavior.

cause like you said, "this had absolutely no harm . . ." hell how could it be a problem for a store to do business with people walking around inside posing as employees? the answer : no problem.

fucking asshats the lot of them. ok maybe i should say i'm not a fan of "pranks" low humor i find. rarely is turnabout far play in the mind of the "pranker"
posted by nola at 8:09 AM on May 6, 2006


The This American Life episode is called Mind Games and is worth listening to. They interview both sides and each has a completely opposite idea of the experience.

I must admit I feel a little bad for the employees in this one. Maybe it would be funny for a moment, but having to directly deal with my manager's "overreaction" and finding amusement in others "mild discomfort" seems not so nice. On preview nola sums it up more succinctly than I do.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:14 AM on May 6, 2006


Jeez, overreact much? They weren't posing as employees, they were simply wearing blue and khaki.
posted by graventy at 8:19 AM on May 6, 2006


Wow.

My surmation is that there are two types of people here. People that enjoy pranks, and people that do not. That in itself isn't so odd. I like potatoes, you like tomatoes, whatever.

But, like anything, once our views are public, the emotions kick in.
posted by zach4000 at 8:29 AM on May 6, 2006


Anyone who gets all outraged and think that the lowest guys on the totem pole minded this have never worked a shitty retail job in their lives.

I've worked four-hour shifts that got so boring that I begged God for an armed robbery, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the endless drudgery of stockwork and selling shit for a pittance. If these guys had shown up it would have made my day.

Lighten up.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:39 AM on May 6, 2006


Actually, if you read the article, it seems like most people were really cool with it. Brightened their day at work. The security guards didn't "freak out" -- they reacted to what was looking like some kind of elaborate heist in action. Of course much more fun to paint it as the kind of reaction you were expecting. (we really freaked out The Man!)
posted by dreamsign at 8:43 AM on May 6, 2006


graventy: that's just disingenuous.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:43 AM on May 6, 2006


(not directed at OC)
posted by dreamsign at 8:43 AM on May 6, 2006


Anyone who gets all outraged and think that the lowest guys on the totem pole minded this have never worked a shitty retail job in their lives.

Exactly. The real Best Buy employees who were being swamped with look alikes (a) were being paid hourly as usual (b) blessed with a break in the monotony of the usual routine.

The managers might have had a little bit of a tougher time. Who are these people? Why are they dressed like my employees? Are they going to simultaneously grab flat panel TVs and run?

Observation and attention makes sense. Maybe alerting your employees - "hey, keep an eye out and if any of these clowns does anything violent or illegal, let me know right away." Calling the police with no crime committed? C'mon...
posted by theorique at 8:47 AM on May 6, 2006


Can I just say that as a guy who works in their corporate office that this is brilliant (I haven't even read the whole thing, but a a concept it's amazing) and this is the first I'm hearing of it - not a word, not a peep from anyone there.
posted by DonnieSticks at 8:57 AM on May 6, 2006


Note to self: Watch The Thomas Crown Affair, get blue shirt
posted by aaronetc at 8:57 AM on May 6, 2006


It was the managers and security guards who got upset. The "minimum wage" employees didn't mind at all.
posted by kenko at 8:59 AM on May 6, 2006


Enjoying pranks or no, this certainly isn't one of their best. As a bunch of people said, there really wasn't enough... payoff. There could have been so much done with a setup like this... and they just stood around, then left a while later?
posted by vernondalhart at 9:04 AM on May 6, 2006


I loooove the bit about the Thomas Crown Affair.
posted by smackfu at 9:07 AM on May 6, 2006


New York is fun.
posted by airguitar at 9:16 AM on May 6, 2006


Ok, so I'm looking at this impossibly coordinated, 100 man operation, and the 35 pages worth of text, photos, and videos I'm required to read to enjoy what amounts to a fairly boring practical joke and all I can think of is Dave Attel's old joke from Dr. Katz: "I'm sitting at the opera, and I'm thinking, 'Look how much work it takes to bore me."
posted by dgaicun at 9:18 AM on May 6, 2006


"that's just disingenuous."

Yeah, sure, but what did they do that was so evil? If customers asked questions, they tried to answer them. If customers asked if they worked there, they said no.

I also need to see Thomas Crown Affair.
posted by graventy at 9:18 AM on May 6, 2006


And the guy with his two daughters? Adorable.
posted by kenko at 9:20 AM on May 6, 2006


I have a friend who used to work at Best Buy and she found it amusing. Now, years after she quit.

The part of me that's thoroughly disgusted with corporate America can appreciate the wit. On the other hand the part of me that's spent a good portion of his life laboring behind counters is vaguely irritated-"haha, you're so cute, now get outta my face."

I used to work at a retail branch of PC manufacturer (the logo was a cow, use your imagination) and some guy came in a nd changed the homepage on every floor PC to apple.com. Yeah, yeah, guerilla marketing and all that shit, but at the same time we were just a bunch of guys trying to make a living, so it was a little irksome.

You might say I'm conflicted.
posted by jonmc at 9:22 AM on May 6, 2006


I saw this on Tuesday. It was on Fark. Man, Slashdot is *SO* 4 days ago.

We've already moved on to dressing up like TSA employees and confusing lost travellers in the airport.
posted by drstein at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2006


graventy: Didn't say it was evil or even bad. Just disingenuous to pretend to think there would or should not be any reaction when that's exactly what they were intending to produce.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:38 AM on May 6, 2006


I think it's funny because the last person I want to see when I walk into a Best Buy is the people who work there. I avoid eye contact, I refuse all offers of help, I know what I want, I know where it is, stay the fuck away. Except, that is, when I can't find when I'm looking for, and then I can never find anyone who works there, or the person I do find is with some one else.
posted by airguitar at 9:43 AM on May 6, 2006


I appreciate the prank, but I think that everyone who is saying 'OMG Best Buy managers are overreacting and are fascists!' have no idea what it's like to be a manager in retail. Managers are responsible for everything in the store. If anything bad happens it's their asses that get fired, not the regular employees. They weren't overreacting. They were just doing their job. I've worked a couple of retail jobs and I know that my managers, all reasonable people, would have done the same thing.
posted by Kronoss at 10:00 AM on May 6, 2006


Sounds pretty clever to me. If you only approach the people who have that I-know-what-I'm-here-for look, you'll never have to actually help anyone. The moment you see a confused gaze or furrowed brow, slip quietly away and head out for smoke. The customer will have found a stupidier co-worker or have left the store by the time you return.
posted by solipse at 10:00 AM on May 6, 2006


If you only approach the people who have that I-know-what-I'm-here-for look, you'll never have to actually help anyone. The moment you see a confused gaze or furrowed brow, slip quietly away and head out for smoke.

You'll also never make any money. In a lot of these stores people are on commission and have a quota to meet or they're out the door. I speak from experience.
posted by jonmc at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2006


Someone just did something like this, wearing T-shirts saying "Everything is half price today" or something similar. Anyone know who did that? Or am I still in a (legal) drug-induced haze and imagining things?
posted by etaoin at 10:06 AM on May 6, 2006


etaoin: I don't remember that one, but didn't Cockeyed create a 50% Off sign (or similar) with a spinning arrow which he placed in an ambiguous location? I thought that one was the bee's knees.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:11 AM on May 6, 2006


I thought it was pretty damn funny. I especially enjoyed the manager following them out of the store. Imagine the meltdown she'll have the next time someone innocently walks in wearing khakis and a blue shirt.
posted by geekyguy at 10:13 AM on May 6, 2006


The next New York MetaFilter meetup?

geekyguy: Imagine the meltdown she'll have the next time someone innocently walks in wearing khakis and a blue shirt.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:15 AM on May 6, 2006


"hell how could it be a problem for a store to do business with people walking around inside posing as employees? "

Posing as employees? "Do you work here?" "No."
Perhaps you should avoid the internet until you learn to read.
posted by klangklangston at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2006


Good fun. And I must admit to being a bit let down by the number of Mefites poopooing this.
posted by furtive at 10:37 AM on May 6, 2006


Metafilter-to-Slashdot log time: -10 hours

Negative 10 hours? Oh noes! Slashdot actually beat Metafilter! Everything up is down! What's next, igniting the atmosphere?
posted by intermod at 10:56 AM on May 6, 2006


furtive, the poopoo-to-whoohoo ratio looks to be somwhere around 1 to 10. Chin up, old sport.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:59 AM on May 6, 2006


EVERYBODY'S WORKIN' FOR THE WEEKEND!

My personal favorite was the Moebius one.
posted by basicchannel at 11:04 AM on May 6, 2006


Count me in as someone else who's worked retail and prayed for anything at all interesting to happen. Chain stores are such soul deadening places for employees. Besides these corporate public malls or whatever need to be reappropriated for fun. I've been to that store and I would've though it was a hoot if I saw this going on. It definitely would've made my day and made me feel better about life being a place where imaginative unpredictable uncontrolled FUN shit can still happen. As opposed to living in controlled isolation as good little fuckin consumers never speaking to anyone but our friends and family and coworkers. Talking to people in a public space is really healthy and considering the fucked up zeitgeist of our repressed fearful post 9/11 days, is so necessary. I'm glad that no one called them terrorists. I guess that's some progress.
posted by Skygazer at 11:05 AM on May 6, 2006


And I must admit to being a bit let down by the number of Mefites poopooing this.

A bunch of 'improv artists,' making a little art statement at the expense of a bunch of wage slaves. Forgive me for not cheering.
posted by jonmc at 11:11 AM on May 6, 2006


" 'We Cause Scenes.' It’s on the front page of our web site; it’s on our business card. "

I have a sneeking suspicion that this group has begun offering its services as a guerilla marketing group.

Many of thier "pranks" happen in branded stores which are prominently featured (Bestbuy,Starbucks,McDonalds,U2). Those brands subsequently recieves exposure to thousands of 20-30 something internet savvys who think they are seeing something cool/hip.


Step 1: Get a bunch of people to show up at brand store together and do something witty.

Step 2: Post it on your website that has an established and well defined viewership.

Step 3: Profit (from the marketing contract you signed before step 1.)


Im sure many of thier scenes are just plain fun. But know when your being marketed too.
posted by Merik at 11:12 AM on May 6, 2006


Not their best stunt, but still pretty funny.
posted by danb at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2006


oh and here is a market research experiment for Cherrios.

"The Park Ranger explained that corporations were not allowed to promote their products in the park"
posted by Merik at 11:19 AM on May 6, 2006


Count me in with the grumpy old tools.
posted by keswick at 11:20 AM on May 6, 2006


We need more of this kind of hijinx in the world, not less. It's a day the workers, managers, employees, customers and improv artists will never forget. How many days in a year can you say you will never forget? It's a gift when anyone is given an experience that wakes them out of the humdrum of everyday life.
posted by any major dude at 11:21 AM on May 6, 2006


JONMC: at the expense of a bunch of wage slaves.

Jon with all due respect, give me a break. Heaven forbid that a commercial space be used for anything other than consumerism. The wage slaves mostly enjoyed it. It was the power tripping self important managers (always assholes in these places and I know from experience) who got their panties in a knot. (i.e., "you are violating my civil rights"? )
posted by Skygazer at 11:34 AM on May 6, 2006


We need more of this kind of hijinx in the world, not less. It's a day the workers, managers, employees, customers and improv artists will never forget. How many days in a year can you say you will never forget? It's a gift when anyone is given an experience that wakes them out of the humdrum of everyday life.


we do not need more guerilla marketing. One main goal of marketing is to manipulate you so you dont forget.

Yes they all had an "experience" but what they will remember is the Best Buy or Starbucks brand in association with it.

This group creates an amusing distraction that is heavily branded. Not exactly waking people up.
posted by Merik at 11:43 AM on May 6, 2006


I loved it.

Though ... the strange thing is that if the 'ending' of this prank had turned into a surprise hug fest by a pair of titilatingly bouncing blonde chicks declaring, "You're on 'Girlies Doing Pranks'!" ... all those yellow and black shirt frowns would have turned into grins and laughter.

And the mefi poopooers would have laughed too. It would have served a (commercial) purpose!

Although ... then it would never have been posted on mefi.

I guess we all need our familiar 'frames'.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:46 AM on May 6, 2006


I don't know, I mean the premise is quite entertaining, but it seems a lot of effort to go to for a low payoff. I can see how just the sheer oddness of that many people dressed like employees would be funny, but the whole thing seems a bit unsatisfying, like it was a massive buildup that just didn't go anywhere.
When I was working boring wage slave jobs I would've been entertained, but only in comparison to the boredom of the rest of the day. I think what distinguishes this from lame stuff like changing all the screensavers in a computer store is that it doesn't really create any extra work for employees.


Count me in with the grumpy old tools.

Well, I'm shocked.
posted by atrazine at 11:54 AM on May 6, 2006


This group creates an amusing distraction that is heavily branded. Not exactly waking people up.posted by Merik

For goodness sake, unleash your inner 15-year-old for five minutes.

Most of us, I hope, have years of huffing and puffing over the folly of this sort of stunt (what if everyone starts doing it, huh!! A blow to the pride of the working stiff!! Possibly hijacking mild urban anarchy for commercial ends - whatever next!!).

If you think about it too much, the gloss does come off a bit. So, for once, don't.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:56 AM on May 6, 2006


Yes they all had an "experience" but what they will remember is the Best Buy or Starbucks brand in association with it.

Hell, I certainly don't like or hate Best Buy anymore than I did before. I haven't suddenly developed fuzzy feelings for the place. If anything it's like oh there's that electronics store. Whatever it's just a fucking cheap ass electronics store with a lot of crap in it and some dorky managers. Not a spiritual epiphany of orgasmic electronic bling gratification as their commercials might have us believe. Look either we humanize these commercial supposedly public places or we let them dehumanize us. Take your choice.
posted by Skygazer at 11:59 AM on May 6, 2006


I thought it was a funny prank when I followed the link from The Morning News a few days ago. The "Thomas Crown Affair" bit was priceless, and there was no harm done. But the description went on and on and on to the point that I just got bored. "First, Agent Smellyshoes took a step with his left foot. Then a step with his right. Then, just to cross everybody up, another step with his right ... " Jeez, get an editor.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:02 PM on May 6, 2006


It would have been better if they dressed up as customers. Can you imagine the confusion!
posted by Peter H at 12:10 PM on May 6, 2006


A bunch of 'improv artists,' making a little art statement at the expense of a bunch of wage slaves. Forgive me for not cheering.

what any major dude said. from what I could tell, any intention of there being an "art statement" has been implied by you, not the improv people.

do you believe life would be better if nothing like this ever happened? it would, of course! I for one am looking forward to the day when nothing unexpected ever happens again.
posted by 6am at 12:11 PM on May 6, 2006


I expected you to say something like that.
posted by dgaicun at 12:18 PM on May 6, 2006


I didn't expect you were expecting me to say that. We cancel each other out, and the time space continuum is saved.
posted by 6am at 12:23 PM on May 6, 2006


heh.

well, it's not brilliant, or inspiring, but it's a funny idea. Thanks for posting it.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:32 PM on May 6, 2006


With our main photographer busted, I took out my camera and started taking covert snapshots. One employee caught me in the act and rushed over. As soon as he got to me, I caught him off guard with a question, "Hey, do you know where I can find the right memory cards for my camera?" He stammered for a second and then said, "Sure. They're right over there." I thanked him and was on my way. Another employee caught me moments later in the DVD section, but I disarmed him with a question as well, "Do you know how much the Star Trek DS9 DVDs are? There is no price tag." We chatted for a second about how expensive the set was, and by the time I walked away he forgot all about the camera.

This reminded me of the fast-food manager in Snow Crash who couldn't handle a fire without his procedural binder. So, my take is that management overreacted, especially the gal who said "my civil rights!" about the stupid no-photography rule and the other who followed them down the street. That's people who are freaked. I do hope they can laugh about it later -- nobody got hurt, nobody got arrested, nobody got sued, and I do hope nobody got fired. Thus, harmless. They even helped customers find merchandise!

Yeah, this resonated with me, particularly because I worked for about a year at a place where I wore a blue polo (with the company logo). We did some IT purchases at Best Buy, and there and even other places like CDW, Micro Center, and yes, Target I would get asked if I were an employee all the time (or just asked a question). Sometimes I even answered the quick questions (and a couple of times, more complicated ones).

That said I think 40 minutes was too long, and there wasn't a good payoff for this one. My favorite -- if it wasn't the Ghosts of Pasha -- was the store on Union Square where they all did mime in the windows. That was a payoff (and I still have the "New York, New York" MP3, so that's a payoff too). Without a payoff, you've just got a flash mob, after all -- and then you're one step away from being a snobster indicting hipsters.

But please. Stow the "wage slave" rhetoric.
posted by dhartung at 12:37 PM on May 6, 2006


Oh, the reference is to the Pierce Brosnan Thomas Crown Affair (and it's a bit of a spoiler), which is watchable fluff. The original with Steve McQueen is, however, superb and even a little disturbing in the way it questions ethicality.
posted by dhartung at 12:39 PM on May 6, 2006


Having been a wage slave in the past, I promise you the floor workers loved seeing their managers getting exposed as humorless pricks.
And as a former wage slave I get the same pleasure watching the same reaction in this thread.
Petty? Yes, but if you've ever had a job like that then you know you take what you can get.
posted by 2sheets at 12:41 PM on May 6, 2006


I saw the Brosnan Thomas Crown movie when it was in the theatres, and all I remember is an old person sex scene that made me impotent for approximately three years. So I don't get the references.
posted by dgaicun at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2006


If it was a scene with Renee Russo, you should have your pecker checked.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:46 PM on May 6, 2006


Yeah what the hell? I've never worked in retail but I've logged plenty of repetitive hours behind hotel bars on rainy Sundays where this sort of thing would have made my week. That said, I don't think this was one of their best - I loved the coffee shop moebius one.

and all I remember is an old person sex scene that made me impotent for approximately three years


Hee hee!
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:52 PM on May 6, 2006


this reminds me of my greatest triumph as a lad working in the men's department of the southlake mall sears: the day i figured out you could transfer calls from outside the store to the store's intercom.

step 1: enlist a couple chucklehead friends to call you at the men's department extension at an appointed time

step 2: transfer the call to the intercom extension

step 3: sit back and try not to giggle too hard at the 45 seconds of fart noises that follow

step 4: proclaim your innocence -- after all, how could it have been you? you're not on the phone!
posted by Hat Maui at 2:31 PM on May 6, 2006


I read this last night on /. and while I thought it was mildly funny, I agree it lacked a big "payoff".

The whole Thomas Crown Affair thing seems quite counterintuitive however. If I wanted to rip off BB, I'd get 50 people dressed in similar, but slightly different clothes. Different enough not to attract attention, but similar enough so any casual observer, or top-down security camera, wouldnt be able to tell people apart. Then you have a bunch of people start ripping them off.

Not that I condone this stuff, but it seems like it would be much more effective.
posted by SirOmega at 2:32 PM on May 6, 2006


I thought it was pretty damn funny. I especially enjoyed the manager following them out of the store. Imagine the meltdown she'll have the next time someone innocently walks in wearing khakis and a blue shirt!

Manager on PA: Code blue! Code blue! All staff to battle stations!
posted by kaemaril at 2:44 PM on May 6, 2006


The "Thomas Crowne affair, Thomas Crowne affair" put a smile on my face (ahhh, middle management).

dgaicun - I think they were referring to the bit at the end of the movie where Thomas Crowne walks into the museum, makes sure everyone sees him, then has a whack-load of extras dressed up exactly like him wandering around running interferrence.

As for Ms. Russo - it was a body-double for the sex scenes, but I think those were her chesticles during the topless sunbathing scene.
posted by porpoise at 2:51 PM on May 6, 2006


I think it was funny and (mostly) harmless, however, I have a bit a of a problem with people claiming they weren't posing as employees.

They were wearing something deliberately chosen to cause confusion between themselves and employees. In fact, it was the whole point of the prank. Claiming they weren't posing as employees is like a kid waving his hands and inch from your face while saying "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!"
posted by Potsy at 3:18 PM on May 6, 2006


I quite prefer pranks with no "pay off."
posted by Captaintripps at 3:27 PM on May 6, 2006


all I remember is an old person sex scene that made me impotent for approximately three years

*shudder* That was all I got from it too, though the fact that I turned it off once my guts stopped churning may have something to do with it. That and the Pepsi One product placement moment, which would have disgraced Leonard Part 6.

As for this prank, it was great as far as it goes, but it should have concluded with them all suddenly coalescing in the open area at the front of the store, someone hitting the boom box and the whole lot of them doing a well choreographed dance number.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:01 PM on May 6, 2006


They were wearing something deliberately chosen to cause confusion between themselves and employees. In fact, it was the whole point of the prank. Claiming they weren't posing as employees is like a kid waving his hands and inch from your face while saying "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!"
posted by Potsy at 6:18 PM EST on May 6


but... He ISN'T touching you, is he? Think about that..
posted by Debaser626 at 5:01 PM on May 6, 2006


"I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!"

Uh oh. Then who is?
posted by dirigibleman at 6:00 PM on May 6, 2006


I saw the Brosnan Thomas Crown movie when it was in the theatres, and all I remember is an old person sex scene that made me impotent for approximately three years.

So when you are an old person, (as you will be most likely some day) please refrain from having sex so that the very idea of it does not gross out those born at a later date than you.

Thanks.
posted by Danf at 6:17 PM on May 6, 2006


This reminds me of a prank I had planned in a similar vein, taking my old Grocery Store uniforms with me on a road trip, and entering a local store posing as employees.

Well, replace the word "prank" with "plot to steal beer".
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:12 PM on May 6, 2006


Count me in as someone else who's worked retail and prayed for anything at all interesting to happen.

I think the difference has been pointed out above.

*Weird stuff happens and you're not going to be held responsible for it --> joy!*

*Weird stuff happens and you're so going to be in shit if this turns out to be trouble --> aw fuck.*

I think most of us have been in both situations. The difference isn't the character of the person but the character of their responsibilities. Easy to confuse them, though. Fundamental Attribution Error.

posted by dreamsign at 7:29 PM on May 6, 2006


Knowing nothing about this group, and being pretty convinced anyone who thinks this done as guerrilla marketing is a fool (certainly due to these types of things such types of guerilla marketing will arise), it seems pretty apparent the pay-off bunch are missing the point. It really seems to be the case that these folks do such things for their own purposes. So if you are looking at this saying well it didn't do anything for me, backs of minimum wage employees, etc dreck then perhaps you are missing the point. The folks involved in making it happen didn't hurt anyone and certainly seemed to have enjoyed themselves quite a bit. Perhaps, just perhaps, that is the pay off.

Having been both a floor worker drone and a manager overseeing worker drones I can found the whole thing completely entertaining. Very funny stuff. Those folks involved will be telling this story for years.
posted by filchyboy at 7:42 PM on May 6, 2006


The IE subway birthday parties are a great idea!
posted by darkstar at 8:07 PM on May 6, 2006


The setup was funny, but basically they're just being assholes for no reason. And they lied to the police for whatever reason, which was stupid and obnoxious. Someone calls up and the people filming give evasive and obviously false answers, which is illegal by the way. He could have just told them it was a flashmob, or what they were really doing.

Normally I hate cops but in this case they were just trying to do their jobs and prevent some sort of heist (which, lets be honest could have gone on during this disruption).

If I owned an electronics store, I'd probably call the cops and try to get rid of these people as quickly as possible. No other reaction seems reasonable at all.
posted by delmoi at 8:36 PM on May 6, 2006


I do manage an A/V electronics store. Had this happened to me, I'd have suspected Candid Camera, or some other media stunt. Nonetheless, standard loss-prevention awareness procedures would have required an immediate investigation into such unusual circumstances.

The sudden arrival of a large group of people obviously imitating employees and lying when queried requires a response. To expect anything other than suspicion is just silly. Those who claim that this act was consequenceless have zero understanding of basic business.

The subsequent allocation of staff and security resources to these unprofitable intruders necessarily means that those resources are unavailable in areas where they would actually have benefited the business's owners.

And if you believe that Best Buy really has a code phrase taken from a movie to activate some predetermined plan in such an unlikely event as is claimed in this account, then it really is time to get away from the keyboard.

Those guys made that up.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:31 PM on May 6, 2006


I think the best missions are the ones where they're doing something interesting and interacting with people. Like the surprise parties on the trains. And how about this little conversation from "Celebrity Trash":
Agent Keech: We got this doorknob out of Sara Jessica Parker's trash just last week. Since it's a doorknob, you know she must have touched it a million times.
10 Year Old Boy: Who?
Agent Keech: Sarah Jessica Parker.
(pause)
10 Year Old Boy: ...You mean... the whore?
Agent Keech: Whoa.
Ha ha! Brilliant!
posted by breath at 10:23 PM on May 6, 2006


Honestly, the fact that it was obvious from the start that they would have to lie to staff to keep this idea going for more than 5 minutes should have indicated to the group that it was not really a very clever prank. But then I'm prejudiced against this kind of thing in general.
posted by teleskiving at 6:43 AM on May 7, 2006


Someone calls up and the people filming give evasive and obviously false answers, which is illegal by the way.
posted by delmoi at 8:36 PM PST on May 6


ahahahaha

hahaha

ahhhhhhhhhh . . .
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:02 PM on May 7, 2006


If you only approach the people who have that I-know-what-I'm-here-for look, you'll never have to actually help anyone. The moment you see a confused gaze or furrowed brow, slip quietly away and head out for smoke. - solipse

You'll also never make any money. In a lot of these stores people are on commission and have a quota to meet or they're out the door. I speak from experience. - jonmc

Yeah, but Best Buy makes a lot of noise about how their sales people are not on commission so it supposedly makes for a friendlier shopping experience. Blech.
posted by raedyn at 11:38 AM on May 8, 2006


As for Ms. Russo - it was a body-double for the sex scenes, but I think those were her chesticles during the topless sunbathing scene. - porpoise

Chesticles??
posted by raedyn at 11:39 AM on May 8, 2006


Funny
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on May 8, 2006


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