Bursting with pride

The full T-mobile ad shot on Thursday morning and aired last night.

Allowing myself a small off topic moment of bigging up Saatchis. I think the phrase 'we're back' may be in order. More at the T-Mobile YouTube channel.


Very nicely done, with some genuinely charming moments.
Inspired by the Improv Everywhere guys?

Posted by: Aaron at January 17, 2009 09:25 AM

Very Good.

If I was directing (which of course I'm not) I'd have gone for more cut away shots, of peoples responses in slow mo or whatever, with the music still playing as we get the flash mob narrative quite quickly.

But still excellent.

Posted by: Charles at January 17, 2009 06:25 PM

It's great Richard, nice work.

Posted by: Angus at January 17, 2009 08:48 PM

Abso-fookin-lutely brilliant.

Love it. I've seen scripts on station takeovers, using the "freeze in place" idea (all of which we were sad not to see being made), but not with music and not this good, frankly.


Posted by: Simon at January 18, 2009 02:09 PM

I like the ad, although I don't like the lack of transparency in the description on the YouTube Channel. It's not your random flashmob, it's not your random bunch of commuters, it was rehearsed and planned. I would also like to have seen an acknowledgement of ImprovEverywhere, I'm guessing they're the idea source.

Posted by: Rachel at January 18, 2009 10:40 PM

very nice mr huntington.

Posted by: gareth at January 19, 2009 03:47 AM

Если не секрет где хостите сайт?

Posted by: Ownetetic at January 19, 2009 09:00 AM

nice work

but since when has 'bigging up saatchi' been off-topic??

Posted by: jemster at January 19, 2009 10:06 AM

Nice chaps. Very nice.

Posted by: Will at January 19, 2009 10:50 AM

credit to t-mobile for seeing this through.

Posted by: mm at January 19, 2009 11:51 AM

This is mighty fine work Richard and you should indeed be proud. I have to admit I found the whole experience a little emotional. I am reminded of the Xbox ad that never was:
I'm hoping it is not just because they were both shot at train stations and that someone can find an intelligent link - not me, I'm too choked up.

Posted by: hardman at January 19, 2009 04:41 PM

Love it - aren't people wonderful

To paraphrase "when you can fake authenticity you've really got it made" - which sounds cynical but is meant as a compliment.

Also love the Xbox shoot up ad. I think the link is that we all want to "play" or "play the fool" perhaps especially when times are tough. Most brands don't ever really "play the fool" and let their hair down. When they do we love it.

Posted by: jon leach at January 20, 2009 11:50 AM

I can't even imagine something like this happening at one of the railway stations in Mumbai - it would be a riot.

How many people were actually involved in the rehearsed steps? And how many cameras were used to record ...and were they candid.

And I think I would like to agree that a bit more emotion responses from the by-standers would have made it a bit more interesting.

Great one for T-mobile indeed.

Posted by: Kapil at January 20, 2009 02:53 PM

I think it is maybe a little early to claim "we're back" off the back of one TV execution:) I seem to remember similar pronouncements after the much lauded and rightly awarded "Old Lions" spot in 2006.
I think this is a good spot - they've come a long way since Steffi & Andre. Congrats to Rick, Steve & Gareth.
But I think it'll take a few more with it before we can hail the return of the Droga days or the glorious 80's.
Where do you stand on the Improv Everywhere & Silent Disco debate? You must have discussed it.

Posted by: KC at January 20, 2009 06:41 PM


Hmmm. Forgive my exuberance then I was just a tad excited about what we had pulled off, one campaign or not.

BTW I don't think anyone wants a return to the smoke and mirrors of the Droga era!

Posted by: Richard at January 20, 2009 10:49 PM

Nice to see people getting excited about their work. It's usually a good sign.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer at January 20, 2009 11:07 PM

Reminds me of iPod gatherings fused with US prisoners dancing to Thriller. S'alright

Posted by: Darren at January 21, 2009 09:47 AM

If I were at Saatchi's I'd love to return to the Droga years

Posted by: Tim at January 21, 2009 09:51 AM

This is fab.

I had a non industry friend ring me last night to tell me about this very ad. That's the mark of good work if ya ask me.

I agree with Kevin, though. Tis a bit early for "we're back".

Posted by: Ben at January 21, 2009 10:14 AM

I suspect Kevin Roberts might quite like a return to the Droga era. He certainly seemed to enjoy being Agency of the Year at Cannes and having lots and lots of lauded campaigns like Army, Club 18-30, NSPCC etc. He referenced enough of them in Lovemarks anyhow.

p.s I never worked at Saatchi in the Droga era so am not biased by the way.

Posted by: KC at January 21, 2009 04:18 PM

sorry, just not as good as the original improv grand central.

Posted by: Jim at January 21, 2009 04:45 PM

Or the original Dancing Matt

12 million hits and counting

Posted by: KC at January 21, 2009 06:28 PM

Safe to say this is a mighty fine imitation. Well done

Posted by: Darren at January 22, 2009 10:43 AM

Brilliant ad, agree with the comment that seeing real people responding/taking part is fantastic. Very insightful.

Posted by: kevin at January 22, 2009 12:15 PM

The ad is brilliant but I should be careful about comments like ... 'I don't think anyone wants a return to the smoke and mirrors of the Droga era!'

What precisely is this based on? Misplaced arrogance does the work a disservice, and I'm sure the guys who made it would distance themselves from this view.

It is fantastic work, and the team are right to be proud

Posted by: jemster at January 22, 2009 02:48 PM

Inspired or copied its back the never solved Fischli & Weisse/ cog debate.... whatever, it is a great ad. And the execution is excellent: inspired music choice, brilliant choreography, just the right level of low-fi, the way the central group grows organically etc. Here's hoping you get to the dizzy heights of 12 million views.

Posted by: hobart65 at January 23, 2009 09:53 AM

I've got some questions for you Richard
(you know i'm your #1 fan right?)

To be honest, before i had any idea who's the ad agency behind it, my very first reaction was "piss off you bunch of ideas thieves" but then, i couldn't argue with the brilliance of the execution.

i guess that in the world of talent imitates, genius steals you proved to be both.

So here are my 2 questions:

first, if this is clearly inspired by improve everywhere, where is the honest transparency? why does it look like you are proudly trying to 'own' something which is clearly not yours?

Secondly, For such a brilliant old school, purist, strategist like yourself - where is the strategy here? What/where is the great insight you always strive to find?

Am i missing something? honestly, this feels like you guys simply spotted a trend (improve everywhere et al) and with your unlimited budgets just created it on a far bigger and slicker scale. what's T-Mobile here?

Appreciate your response for this one.


Posted by: Asi at January 23, 2009 11:21 AM

Gorgeous Mr. Huntington,

You have hung your hat too early.
This is not 'back'. This is 'caught up'.

Execution is good mate, your lot have more to prove.


Posted by: nils leonard at January 23, 2009 02:53 PM

Yeah, I'm with Asi...

I just shared this with the office, 99% of whom are familiar with the Improv Everywhere work and have seen the 'station freeze'. So it was mostly met with groans and yawns.....admittedly, I work for a magazine, so we're more caught up than most, but then who are T-mobile trying to appeal to?

Nice stunt, well executed...but what am I to think of T-mobile? Where's the build, the brand engagement? What happens next?

Good work, Improv Everywhere...but far far too slow by the agency...

Posted by: Ben at January 23, 2009 04:06 PM

I really enjoyed this! Do you mind if I post it on my blog?

Posted by: Koush at January 24, 2009 11:16 AM

Mmmm, yes its a 'nice' film of a stunt just like all the others on YouTube with flashmobs ImprovEverywhere etc etc. but its not ownable, its not unique, there is no link to T-Mobile - only the strapline.

I find myself in the most unusual situation of not being impressed by something Richard has had a hand in. Sorry. T-Mobile is disappearing fast due its virtual irrelevance (something like less than 1% of European market) and this isn't helping.

The communication doesn't give us anything to do other than watch T-Mobile justify its strapline. T-Mobiles business problems will just continue after this. Pity.

Posted by: Holycow at January 24, 2009 11:40 AM

Here is the 'making-of' film which shows you how Saatchis and Partizan pulled the event off.

Posted by: richard at January 26, 2009 08:57 AM

May I be candid? The concept behind is great but the execution leaves me does try to fake authenticity and it shows...

I find that the music is broken and it feels staged coming from the main station system, plus it is obvious that 99% of the dancers are professionals, the overall "tone" is quite cold and not "involving" and stimulating the "sharing".

Sorry, just as much as I am an enthusiastic reader of this blog and a supporter of most of its ideas, this time it's "no, no" gustibus maybe...ciao

Posted by: Rosario at January 26, 2009 09:04 AM




Anyway, anyone seen that new Dairy Milk ad?

Posted by: Durden at January 26, 2009 10:11 AM

I was with you until I heard the testimonial radio campaign with an invitation to 'cath it'at YouTube.

Now I'm reaching for the sick bucket.

The 'we're back' comment might ring truer than you might have imagined.

Posted by: jemster at January 26, 2009 01:53 PM

Cold huh?

This has made at least five people I know cry. But perhaps they're not cynical planners struck by professional jealousy?

Have also received links from multiple sources so it's obviously getting people talking about T-Mobile.

Beautifully executed - you have every right to be proud.

Posted by: Cucumberhead at January 26, 2009 02:07 PM


Online views now stand at 3m in a shade over a week.

Just thought I'd mention it.


Posted by: Richard at January 26, 2009 11:38 PM


Gordon Brown also gets quite a few online views in shades of week....think Bush even got more. Not really a worthy metric.

People cried at this? Were they the ones who had the original idea?

Posted by: Cucumberkiller at January 27, 2009 08:36 AM

@ Cucumberkiller:
Gordon Brown picking his nose - 342,452 views in a year;
Gordon Brown shaking in fear - 332,974 views in one year;
Gordon Brown saves the world - 48,208 in a month.

It's hardly the same thing is it? By a rough estimate (as there are several different versions) 10 million people have viewed President Bush meeting a flying shoe in the last month, an event that was all over the news and shows the humiliation of an almost universally detested world figure.

This campaign has captured people's hearts - everyone I have showed it to has passed it on to others, with the same result. They view it because it is fun, engaging and ultimately uplifting.

Let's be honest, how much of the stuff this industry produces is original. Richard and his team have bought something that was
fairly niche (yes, hey have had 15m views) and opened it to a much wider audience. If they had reinterpreted Giotto or Shakespeare or Rushdie then no-one would have been wittering on about the original. And if they had obtained 3m views in a week they would be lauded.

Cucumberkiller, you are a cynic, no doubt about that but I share Cucumberhead's view that most of the negative comments come from co-professional's that wish they had come up with something half as good.

Posted by: hardman at January 27, 2009 09:57 AM

Umm are we now looking up stats on the internet? Oh dear some people do have too much time.

This is getting out of hand. It's an ok ad, it's nothing special but it's nice I guess. It's now eclipsed by Dairy Milk which is amazing and Saatchi's have broken a very long downward spiral...but this is a mere break rather than a reform.

End of

Posted by: Butterfly at January 27, 2009 10:16 AM

And of course we are loving Eyebrows too

Posted by: richard at January 27, 2009 10:26 AM


Measuring efficency not effectiveness Richard. Go find your own petard...

I'd repeat that the film is great though, even if it is plaguerised. Fantastic execution. Full marks to the client for buying into it too.

Not sure the campaign is as great. I think the making-of film is a bit up itself, everyone apart from the dancers look a little too pleased with themselves. And the radio is seriously puke-making.

And what will happen in the end I wonder.

Viewing is the start of what? Gorilla didn't justify the hullaballoo in terms of effect .... is this structured enough to do so?

Be so kind as to tell us how it worked in terms of hard effectivenss data wont you

PS My kids think the eyebrows stinks and want Gorilla back

Posted by: jemster at January 27, 2009 12:37 PM

I concur

Let's have a look at less 'smoke and mirrors' and see how this helped people re-appraise the brand, drove sales and generally made everyone who ever had anything to with it into God like status.

Until then, let's not start suckling everyone off just yet.

Posted by: Durden at January 27, 2009 02:48 PM

Goodness, gracious lordy be! It is quite simply brilliant, emotions have clearly risen in all of us, some more pleasantly than others. It does the job, more than, so a huge well done to you R, the Richard that DID this great Ad. And as for some of you others, how's about stepping out of that constant stream of compulsive criticism and judgement and going to do something to make someone smile.

Posted by: Emmats at January 27, 2009 02:55 PM

I've just been sick

Posted by: Durden at January 27, 2009 03:05 PM

you can borrow my bucket Jonathan

Posted by: jemster at January 27, 2009 04:07 PM


Online views now stand at 3m in a shade over a week.

Just thought I'd mention it"

Richard Huntingdon January 26 2009

"So long as the digital community clings to its obsession with accountability over effectiveness it will remain in the unedifying position of creating engaging brand fluff"

Richard Huntingdon December 14th 2008

Posted by: polly at January 27, 2009 05:48 PM

I think it's OK as an attention grabber. Although nobody seems to be talking about the 'T-mobile ad'. My mum refers to it as the 'dancing station clip' and had absolutely no idea it was an ad for a phone network. The radio, meanwhile, is truly horrendous.

My honest query would be what the planning involvement was here? Other than nodding and approving of the creative theft, what did planning have to do with this ad at all?

I'm a creative who values planning - but sometimes it's crucial to creative development and sometimes it's just not. I'd suggest both this ad and the Cadbury's stuff had very little planning involvement.

I'd also mention that I'm a T-mobile customer who's about to disappear to Orange. This ad leaves me cold when it comes to actually making a decision about an operator. What business problem is it trying to solve? Surely not awareness? Or are T-mobile seen as German, cold and clinical and you wanted to warm them up?


Posted by: Jonny at January 27, 2009 07:07 PM

I think a fair comparison is the Improv Everywhere 'no pants' stunt that was put on YouTube a week ago....

5 and a half million views to date, no media buy...

Posted by: Ben at January 27, 2009 07:12 PM

In spite of what people might think about what I think about the T-Mobile ad. I actually believe that it's really very good.

I don't 'like' it from a personal taste point of view. But that's not the point. It's not an ad for me. If it was aimed at E2-working, Improv-Everywhere-watching, fixed-wheel-bike-riding, electro-emo-listening bloggers. The ad would be something completely different. And it probably wouldn't be for T-Mobile either.

I think it has a nice feel and it's well made. Yes, it's part of what I see as a family of ads with lots of people doing things. But that's just the way the world is right now. As an execution it feels more real, more human and less glossy than some of the 'others'. Which sets it apart, just enough to give T-Mobile an edge.

Of course hyper-critical hyper-aware media types *know* that it's not real, and some have a problem with that. But does that matter to most people? It's a bit of fun.

And I think it's been distributed really well too.

If I'd been involved I'd be proud.

And stop whanging on about Improv Everywhere - they ripped off the whole flashmob thing from other flashmobs, who probably ripped the idea off from Jesus, or something...

Posted by: Iain Tait at January 29, 2009 09:33 AM

"In spite of what people might think about what I think about the T-Mobile ad"


I can't imagine there is a single human being on this planet, not even a single fixed-wheel-E2-rider, who who has given a moments thought to what you might think about this ad.

Apart from you.

Get over yourself FFS

Posted by: jemster at January 29, 2009 10:36 AM

I agree with Iain on this one. I think we are all a bit too cynical in comparison to the average punter who T-Mobile would be targeting. Its a bit of fun and its a nice ad.

But I also agree with the fact that there is little to no link to T-Mobile. It has the feel of all the other networks

O2. 'We're better, connected'... etc

What does it truly mean for T-Mobile ? I guess we will see

I will stand up for Richard on one thing. Like any big client, it probably took a long time to get to this point with a lot of the heart taken out of it. It maybe a small step for all of us, but a huge leap for them.

I hope its just the beginning of doing some great work

Posted by: Mikej at January 29, 2009 06:15 PM

Iain, I didn't know you were in to electro-emo. You should have said.

Posted by: Ben Terrett at January 29, 2009 08:18 PM

I found myself playa-hating too...

We (Nokia) considered doing somethign similar a year ago. I'm sure many other people thought about doing this. It's not a particularly clever idea. Spend 10 minutes on Youtube and anyone could have thought of it.

What slightly frustrates me is that this particular clip contributes nothing to the genre of Improv Everywhere and Philipino Prisoner Thriller-Dancers.

But the fact is - looking at the comments on youtube - this clip is making the right people happy. That is what counts. Not original thought. And certainly not peer recognition.

Posted by: Daniel at January 30, 2009 08:38 AM

Daniel you're certainly right, up to a point, and I hate to sound cynical or anti-happy but this is marketing so happiness is expected transfer to hard market results

Happiness => Empathy => conversion => £

Posted by: jemster at January 30, 2009 05:51 PM

.... or even a call to action, a bit like Vodafone 'make the most of now'.

Infact Vodafone could be enjoying this ad as much as we are

Posted by: jemster at January 30, 2009 05:54 PM

Hang on thought jemster. Doesn't the very nature and content of the original post of "bigging up saatchis" and "we're back" suggest that peer recognition is precisely what was being sought?

or is it just me?

I'm not sure that most punters care who made the ad, or whether or not it represents a return to more celebrated and creatively consistent days of Saatchi & Saatchi.

They just like watching people dancing. Or gorillas drumming. or Car parts banging together. or squirrels overcoming obstacles courses. Or am I being naive?

Posted by: KC at January 30, 2009 06:55 PM

Labour Isn't Working
Stale Internet Meme Ripoff #346

Sorry. You're not back yet. Saatchi's (and Silburn,s) past work has left the bar higher than this. This is Ok Go / Berocca "Treadmills" with a bigger budget and better craft skills.

Should pick up a gong or two, though.

Posted by: Nick Strada at February 2, 2009 03:57 AM

Peer recognition was the objective of the posting KC, not of the ad.

And no-one in the real world could give a bucket of squirrel piss about the Saatchi so called revivial (didn't I hear Lee saying the same thing?). Equally few in the real world could care about the originality or otherwise of this work.

While this is a pretty decent ad for most real people, it is no evidence, yet, of any kind of revivial

The only thing that is 'back' in some measure is the empty arrogance of yesteryear. But then real people couldn't care too much about that either.

You're not being as naive as you usually are.

Posted by: jemster at February 2, 2009 10:44 AM

Lee said a lot of things.....
I agree with everything you say,
apart from the bit about me obviously :)
btw - you seem to be labouring under the misguided notion I'm a saatchi employee. I'm not.
So therefore couldn't give a bucket of anyone's piss (squirrel or otherwise) whether they revive or not

Posted by: KC at February 2, 2009 12:07 PM

KC it's quite obvious that you are proudly ex saatchi. Proud to be 'ex' that is.

Posted by: jemster at February 3, 2009 10:38 AM

Isn't every ex saatchi proud to be ex?

Posted by: Durden at February 3, 2009 01:04 PM

why does it always come back to anything but the fecking work.

Posted by: lisa at February 3, 2009 07:39 PM

spoken like a true proud ex-saatchi'er lisa.

Posted by: KC at February 3, 2009 10:38 PM that I meant that they got out

Posted by: Durden at February 4, 2009 09:31 AM

Whether this execution is unique or not, it is still pure brilliance in my personal opinion. Surely very few consumers will recall some of the fore mentioned YouTube videos? They may just enjoy this advert; it just makes you feel good.

As someone about to graduate from a degree in Advertising and Marketing in a recession the future is looking unclear, but executions like this restored my faith in my future career...

Posted by: Hannah Jones at February 6, 2009 04:46 PM

Happy to hear about your degree, and your imminent entry into the world of ads and marketing.
The only thing I would take issue with in your post is that Youtube views would seem to suggest that 15 million consumers alone would remember the Improv Everywhere Grand Central stunt (5 times as many as have viewed the T-mobile dance), and 6 million consumers would remember the Improv Everywhere Pants Off stunt (twice as many as T-mobile dance, and it launched in the same week with no media spend).
The Improv Everywhere work isn't some niche internet phenomenon. It is mass market communications tool that seems to be able to tap into viewership without having to bribe it with media spend. Something I think all of us in advertising are trying to understand and utilise for the brands we are associated with helping to connect.

Posted by: KC at February 8, 2009 09:53 PM

Hi Hannah and good luck coming into this insane industry.

You're right in that this is an execution that connects and involves its' target (although as a student of the industry you'd be well advised to have a look at the clunky executions in other media, radio is especially dire) and in that sense it doesn't matter that it isn't unique.

However, as an industry, we set store by originality. That's because we believe that we are judged, and increasingly paid by (the effectiveness of our) ideas.

This isn't only about Creative Awards though they're not unimportant; but about the fact that a strong communication idea is an extremely valuable commercial asset for a client.

Because of that many believe that the originator of should, at least, be acknowledged, if not paid for their idea.

This posting ... 'we're proud of this', 'we're back', arrogantly takes credit for the idea obscuring the fact it came from elsewhere.

Many might feel Improv Everywhere should be recognised, if not compensated, after all the more successful this campaign is, the more it owes to them.

To be honest I don't have an issue with Saatchi using the idea, if the original source is recognised, and I have to admit the film is wonderfully executed.

I do however have an issue with their strutting stance: quite simply they didn't create this, they executed it.

Posted by: jemster at February 9, 2009 11:28 AM

Just discovered this on Youtube:

Seems as if apart from theoretical discussions the ad actually has inspired a lot of people. More than 99% of telly ads today are able to accomplish...

Posted by: nico westermann at February 9, 2009 12:07 PM

Think you'll find that (at least) five separate incidences of flashmobbing/flashmob dancing had already happened at this very station in 2008 before T-mobile had done anything at all.
I'm also not sure that inspiring people to create content off the back of TV ads is always a great thing either or something to massively encourage.... Have you seen all the stuff around the Frosties kid?

Posted by: KC at February 9, 2009 12:55 PM

the (genuine?) flashmob which imitated the TV ad which imitated the flashmob, all good, short-term fun

Posted by: kevin at February 10, 2009 11:18 AM

KC. Care to defend your current agency's rip off of the Honda Cog idea? Or do you just want to air your bitterness to saatchi here?

Posted by: Paul at February 12, 2009 01:16 PM

Ha ha! This is how I feel about British Rail too!

Posted by: Mrs Belmot at February 12, 2009 04:27 PM

Ben Walker = Thief
Pure as

and I'm not sure I'm required to "defend" anything I'm not publically lording
(see chest beating orginal post)

Bitterness? I thought I said I liked it, and sent my congrats to Rick & Steve. Must be my mistake.

Posted by: KC at February 12, 2009 09:43 PM


thanks for the hint. I still believe, that any genuine involvement created by communicating a genuine position is good. People thinking, creating, communicating with or around a brand - isn't that all we are trying to do?
Besides, Frosties just was neither genuine/authentic nor did they have a position.

Posted by: Nico Westermann at February 15, 2009 10:16 PM

But to the populist seems the audience ab-so-lute-ly lurved it. and couldn't stop "co-creating" from it. and this is also the case for Sheila's Wheels.

so maybe we should all give up and go and grow tomatoes for a living, or something.

Posted by: KC at February 16, 2009 06:42 PM

God I hate tomatoes. Would you mind growing shallots?

Posted by: jemster at February 17, 2009 05:00 PM

is it just me that finds improv everywhere a bit self-important, a bit show-offy? more exclusive than inclusive? don't they get a buzz off 'weirding people out'? who are they? this really is just a question...: are they out of work actors and drama students keeping busy between gigs?
showing off vs entertaining and including.
like anything that inpsires - it's always best to use it as a kick-off point and move it on to something better. evolution basically.
what's next?!

Posted by: e.s. at February 27, 2009 10:26 AM