Event Planning Lessons from the Global No Pants Subway Ride

Global no Pants Subway RideI'm all for pranks, I'm into improv and I'm a big fan of flash mobs. I've blogged about the fun and excitement that flash mobs can generate when integrated into events.

Yet, when I heard about yesterday's No Pants Subway Event, I was puzzled. "What's the point?" I wondered. Flash mobs are fabulous but isn't this taking the word "flash" too literally.

At first I thought it was like Dress Down Friday in which employees pay to dress down and the funds raised are donated to charity. Apparently it isn't.

I discovered that it started in New York in 2002. Seven improv performers from Improv Everywhere boarded the same subway car at various stops....without pants. They acted as if they didn't know each other. Once they created a reaction they moved on to a different location.

The first ride included 7 participants, all male. One participant entered the train pantless for 7 consecutive stops. They pretended not to notice each other, and if asked claimed that they “just forgot” their pants. On the 8th stop, someone came through with a duffle bag selling pants for $1. No photographs were taken, but the above video was captured with our single a hidden camera.

Source: Improv Anywhere

This garnered a lot of buzz. The annual event grew and it has gone global.

Honestly, I still don't "get it" but I think that event planners can learn a lot the elements for creating and promoting events.

The No Pant Subway Ride was launched with an unexpected impromptu event. It is coordinated from the Improv Anywhere website. There is:

  • a Twitter account
  • a hashtag
  • a Youtube channel
  • a Facebook page
  • an official tee shirt

These are some of the elements that can be utilized for charity events, conferences and promotional campaigns.

As for the No Pants event, I'm not a fan of it. I see it as pointless. There is so much need in the world that I wish that all of this creativity and energy were harnessed for a worthwhile cause. I still think it's a valuable model for meeting, special event and conference planners who wants to create an event and watch it go viral.

Photo Credit: Susan NYC

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