Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, August 20, 2021

Guerilla marketing is already synonymous with recklessness (at least when it backfires), so it’s hard to figure out the wisdom behind British broadband provider TalkTalk’s decision to unleash some sticky-fingered “putpockets” upon London pedestrians.

Aware that people are suffering in the economic crisis, 20 former pickpockets have turned over a new leaf and are now trawling London’s tourist sites slipping money back into unsuspecting pockets. Anything from 5 pounds to 20 pound notes is being surreptitiously deposited in unguarded pockets or open handbags in Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and other busy spots.

The initiative, which runs until the end of August in London before being rolled out countrywide, is being funded by [TalkTalk], which says it wants to brighten up people’s lives in unusual ways.

Granted, no one’s going to turn down free money. Still, there’s a distinct creepiness to this. I’d feel violated after finding out that someone slipped their hands into my pocket. I don’t know what the attitude is in the UK toward such invasion of personal space; here in the States, people would go nuts. Especially with the knowledge that these are ex-criminals doing the deed — was it really essential for TalkTalk to recruit such shady characters for the task?

I presume that the money will have stickers or stamps on it to identify TalkTalk as the benefactor. That works for brand awareness, but also makes them a target. As with all such stunts, I’m guessing TalkTalk is willing to take on the negative backlash, in exchange for a hoped-for big boost in subscribers.

If this “putpocket” scheme sounds familiar to Americans, that’s because Burger King thought of it first, last year. BK didn’t actually implement it in real life: It just used the concept of “reverse pickpockets” in a couple of TV commercials. I guess The King wasn’t brave enough to cross it over from screen to street.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/20/2009 05:09pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, True Crime
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