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  • Tent City

    If you happen by 23rd & 6th and see this, it's not a group of refugees or a congregating of homeless people, it's Best Buy's new tent city.

    I talked to a few of the people huddled under the tent and asked what they were doing. They said they wanted to be the first in line for the new Play Station. They've been there since Monday and they're waiting until Friday morning. You have to wonder if anyone has lost their job to this! Or, if not their job, perhaps their mind!


    Ch. 11's Free Publicity Truck! 11 did a real nice piece on Best Buy and the Play Station. Some really nice PR for Best Buy.

  • #2
    Re: Tent City

    The advent of the internet and the availablity of remote access advance sales makes this seem a rather inhospitable and foolhardy approach at best!

    Is the goal to try to turn the new game system purchase into some kind of event?
    Note to the camped out gamers: If you're looking for a good idea -try harder!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Tent City

      VP - I think you've hit on something here that I was thinking but didn't really want to say - for fear I'd sound crazy!

      But, my first reaction to the people waiting in line was "these people can't afford a $600 play station." OK, so looks may be deceiving, I'll grant you that. But then I wondered how anyone in their right mind could afford to take a whole week off from work just to wait in line for a play station. Wouldn't that double or triple the price? Especially like you said, when you can do all this online now.

      That's when my cynicism kicked in, along with my past career in advertising and PR. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Best Buy actually "hired" those people to sit out there, so they could generate "excitement" for the product. Once they have the fake crowd in place all they have to do is call the media and say "this product is so hot we have a line going around the building of people who are so anxious to get it they're waiting in line 24 hours a day for 5 days straight."

      And for passers-by, it definitely makes you stop and want to know what's going on. You can barely pass this corner without finding out the new play station is coming out on Friday. That's huge in the marketing world.

      Channel 11 showed up for the story and gave them a huge amount of free publicity. Most of their story was spent on the product itself, using the people waiting in line as the hook to do the story. But if you saw the story it was really about the product.

      Ad agency media person calls sales rep at station and says they need to get a little publicity for this product release. Sales rep says Best Buy needs to give them some reason to do the story. Ad agency calls PR firm and says "we need some kind of event for the play station release. Ch 11 will cover it if we can come up with something."

      PR firm puts together little plan to have people camping out on the sidewalk.

      The reason this could be the case is that PlayStation is not by any means the hot product it once was. I just don't see real people camping out for it on a cold rainy sidewalk in Manhattan for 5 days straight.

      The other reason is when there really is a groundswell of public desire for a product like this, you'd have hundreds of people there, not just 25 or 30. This has all the earmarks of a contrived event.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Tent City

        Oh, and one other thing about this bogus hype. While I was in Best Buy there were four or five guys milling around the new Microsoft Zune player. (They looked strangely similar to the campers waiting outside in the tents),

        I asked the sales person how Zune was doing and he said "amazing, we're selling a ton of them. Look, I even have one and I love it. It's way better than my iPod." When I asked him why it was better than his iPod he couldn't tell me! He had no idea. He was left pretty much speechless.

        I became more suspicious when I asked him what the software interface was like when you plugged Zune into your computer and he said, "I don't know, I haven't had a chance to try that out yet." Which basically means he hasn't even used the player. How could he have used it if he hasn't even plugged it into his computer to upload some songs and videos to it? So, definitely something very suspicious about his comments.

        As soon as the group who looked like the campers left the Zune display, no one else paid much attention to it. The Zune player is twice as big, twice as fat, twice as heavy and 20 times uglier than the iPod (which means the iPod looks good and this thing is just plain ugly). It looked like the third-world version of the iPod. It looked shoddily made as well. Hard to believe anyone would really buy it when they can get the much snazzier iPod for the exact same price.

        Seems to me that Best Buy is hyping this by telling their sales people to tell us, "they're flying off the shelves". I didn't see anyone buy it. I didn't even see anyone look at one after the Best Buy Campers left.

        My personal opinion is that this Best Buy has sunk to a fraud-like level in an attempt to kick start holiday sales for two products which just aren't that hot. And if it turns out they are actually paying these "campers", something we'll never know, that would be outright fraud in my book.

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        • #5
          Re: Tent City

          I think you pegged it exactly Jonathan. From what I've heard on the news, Retail is pretty close to all out war with itself. Every large retail chain is fighting to gain the #1 spot in Holiday sales. Albeit, nothing new there.

          Every year, the marketing starts a week earlier than the previous. Has anyone else noticed that? Pretty soon, we may very well start seeing Holiday advertising in July. That prospect is quite startling.

          I find however, that it's funny that this guy you've described, doesn't even know Thing One about a product he's supposed to be selling. Pretty sad, don't you think? To me, it doesn't sound like a "trend" that'll take off (so-to-speak). We'll have to wait and see.

          And just as an aside, I love my little IPod Nanno. I find the name "Zune" just another "commercialism." (I think I just made up a word); and, just another pathetic attempt at "Trendom." NO SALE.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Tent City

            Yeah, he didn't know a thing about a product that he was not only supposed to be selling, but that he said he owned and loved! Definitely something fishy there.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Tent City

              If your interesting take on this is right, it's no wonder it seems we've all become such jaded consumers. I'll add that i watched a brief review, msn i think, that gave the zune (reminds me of when they launched the beverage 'zima' and then too we were all left wondering about the word itself) a relatively favorable review, and at least their guy had apparently used it rather extensively before offering a recommendation.. Surprised to hear that the zune apparently doesn't trump the ipod in any notable area unlike, say, some of the creative zen players.
              I just recently broke down my resistance and purchased my first mp3 player, a creative zen vision m, and absolutely love it. From the looks of it, I should've been saving toward purchasing this not so red hot new game system

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              • #8
                Re: Tent City

                As far as the new Play Station 4 and people camping out waiting for it...

                For the past several weeks, Craigs List has been running ads from folks hiring people to camp out for them or wait in line for them. They also have been hiring people to wait with them. So, a lot of the people you see are being paid by buyers with real jobs who want their new gadget.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Tent City

                  Originally posted by virtualpleasure View Post
                  I'll add that i watched a brief review, msn i think, that gave the zune... a relatively favorable review, and at least their guy had apparently used it rather extensively before offering a recommendation..
                  No surprise there that a company owned by Microsoft (MSN) would give a product made my Microsoft (Zune) a positive review!

                  Originally posted by LongTime Resident View Post
                  For the past several weeks, Craigs List has been running ads from folks hiring people to camp out for them or wait in line for them. ... So, a lot of the people you see are being paid by buyers with real jobs who want their new gadget.
                  In light of that, it's interesting that the ones I talked to all said they were there to buy it for themselves. Or they made comments to the effect of how much they were looking forward to getting it. I wonder if it's not possible that Best Buy placed some of those craigslist ads?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Tent City

                    In light of that, it's interesting that the ones I talked to all said they were there to buy it for themselves. Or they made comments to the effect of how much they were looking forward to getting it. I wonder if it's not possible that Best Buy placed some of those craigslist ads?

                    Anything's possible. I wonder how many you could have talked to; their ages; if they have a job or in school...etc. But that said, people lining up for hours or days before a new gadget/software/ticket/wristband sale has been going on for ages. Some people want it "first" and before it sells out. And many of the jobs listed to "wait" were for Circuit City or other stores. So I still wouldn't assume it was a publicity stunt.

                    At least you all know it's a temporary event and not a new "Hooverville" popping up in your neighborhood, right?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Tent City

                      For all those who might have missed this story.....and think the lines at Best Buy was a publicity stunt by the store......

                      NEW YORK (Nov. 17) - Days of waiting paid off for Sergio Rodriguez, one of the relatively few able to buy Sony's PlayStation 3 when the coveted console went on sale early Friday. He was among the die-hard gamers and entrepreneurs across the country who braved foul weather and heckling by passers-by all week for the chance to shell out $500 or more for the sleek game machine.

                      With shortages resulting from production problems, many had camped out for days without knowing if they'd be going home empty-handed. At some stores, the crowds got rowdy and stampeded for the shelves, injuring a man in Wisconsin and forcing authorities to shut down a Wal-Mart store in California.

                      In Connecticut, two armed thugs who got wise to the PS3's high price and tried to rob a line of people waiting outside a Putnam Wal-Mart store at 3 a.m. One person who refused to give up the money was shot, state police said. In Lexington, Kentucky, four people waiting outside a Best Buy were hit by BB pellets, though none was seriously injured, according to television station WKYT, whose own reporter was hit as she interviewed buyers.

                      Rodriguez had been waiting outside the New York Circuit City store since Sunday for the a midnight launch event, and he was the first to walk away with the PS3 as people still standing in line outside the store cheered.

                      "This is the best game ever. It's so worth the wait," the 25-year-old graphics designer said. "Some people may call me crazy, but I really love to play."

                      With Sony promising only 400,000 systems for the nationwide launch, the chance of disappointment was high. While retailers tried to keep expectations low, lines snaked around the block at many stores -- even those that weren't going to begin sales until later Friday.


                      Saby Madrigal, an 18-year-old college student who worked for a month at a liquor store to save for a PS3, waited in line outside the Circuit City for 24 hours without success. Still, she vowed to keep looking. "For the work we had to do to get all the money to get the stupid system, I'm going to search every single store in town," she said. "I don't care, I'm going to get it."

                      Some who saw long lines at the midnight launches simply went to another location, with later openings and smaller crowds. Nonetheless, about 50 people were in front of Ahmad Mustafa, 24, outside a New York Best Buy with only 34 units available. Ernie Ferreira, 22, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who was visiting relatives in New York, was No. 4 in line and didn't mind waiting for the store's 8 a.m. opening. "Only seven or eight hours, I can handle that," he said. "I did it three nights already."

                      Nathaniel Lord, who camped out for three nights at a Best Buy in West Hollywood, California, spent more than $700 on a console and game. "I thought about going home to shower first because I haven't showered in three days, but I think I'm just going to get another energy drink, log on and get started," said Lord, a recent graduate of California Institute of the Arts. Sony, which has contended with laptop battery recalls and trails rivals in key products such as music players and liquid crystal displays, is counting on the PS3 to maintain and build its market lead in consoles. Some customers were buying PS3 machines for themselves or as gifts, but many were hoping to resell them at a profit. Units were fetching several thousand dollars early Friday at the eBay Inc. auction site. James Salterio, 27, explained the reason for his two-day camp-out outside a Houston, Texas, Target store: Greed.

                      "I'm gonna sell mine," Salterio said, figuring he could make $1,500 to $4,000. His 21-year-old brother, a gamer, wanted company in line, so Salterio decided to make a profit in the process. "It's capitalism at work," he said. Edgar Alcala, 18, who grabbed one of the first spots in line at San Francisco, California's Sony Metreon Mall on Wednesday morning, said he was looking forward to a warm, dry bed and a hefty profit. "When I get home, I'm going to take a quick picture of it, slap it on eBay and go to sleep," Alcala said minutes before the store's doors opened at midnight Friday.

                      Potential customers braved freezing temperatures in Fargo, North Dakota, and heavy rain and winds in Baltimore, Maryland, and other East Coast locales. "Katrina could come through here and I wouldn't switch," said Marco Cajas, 20, of Baltimore. "I spent the night on the cold street." Even a volunteer for former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina asked for help in getting a PS3 -- from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which the potential 2008 presidential candidate frequently criticizes. Edwards said the volunteer "feels terrible" about seeking the console from Wal-Mart a day after his boss criticized the retail giant, saying it doesn't treat its employees fairly.

                      Wal-Mart accused Edwards, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2004, of not wanting to wait his turn. Short supplies and strong demand were feared to be a formula for trouble as the PS3 hit store shelves, a half-year late because of problems completing work on the console's built-in, next-generation DVD player. In Palmdale, California, authorities shut down a Super Wal-Mart after some shoppers got rowdy late Wednesday. In West Bend, Wisconsin, a 19-year-old man ran into a pole and struck his head racing with 50 others for one of 10 spots outside a Wal-Mart.

                      Many stores reported calm.

                      The Console War of 2006

                      At a Best Buy in Boston, Massachusetts, with 140 machines for sale, employees simply gave out tickets for the first 140 in line so that everyone else could go home.

                      At San Francisco's Sony Metreon mall, a "sacred scroll" notebook kept track of the first 505 people in line so they could go to the bathroom or pick up food without losing their spots. Some got wristbands guaranteeing a unit.

                      There was even a vibrant economy in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Restaurants not only delivered pizza and wings, but also dispatched workers to hand out menus. The Dick's Sporting Goods store nearby sold camp chairs and more than a few tents. Even as retailers drummed up publicity by throwing parties and inviting celebrities, Best Buy Co., Circuit City Stores and others warned customers all week that supplies would be tight. Sony promised the 400,000 machines in the United States for Friday's launch and about 1 million by year's end. Worldwide, it was expecting 2 million this year, half its original projections. Jack Tretton, executive vice president at Sony Computer Entertainment America, said retailers will be receiving new PlayStations daily -- expedited by plane rather than ships. "At some point we want to get to some degree of normalcy, but that remains to be seen," Tretton said, adding that seeing all the people camped out and lined up for the console "kind of makes all the effort worth it."

                      Enthusiasm for the PlayStation 3 wasn't dampened by its high price tag -- $500 for the basic model with a 20-gigabyte hard drive and $600 for the 60-gigabyte version, which also has built-in wireless. By contrast, Nintendo's Wii, which goes on sale Sunday in the United States, retails for $250. Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which had a year's head start over rivals, sells for $300 to $400. Sony crammed the PlayStation 3 with the very latest in cutting-edge technology, and it dominated the previous generation of consoles with 70 percent of the global market.

                      Associated Press Writers Colleen Long, Barbara Ortutay and Peter Svensson in New York, May Wong in San Jose, Calif., Rachel Konrad in San Francisco, Dave Kolpack in Fargo, N.D., Rasha Madkour in Houston, Geoff Mulvihill in Mount Laurel, N.J., Ben Greene in Baltimore and Brian Bergstein in Boston contributed to this report.


                      11-17-06 05:42 EST

                      Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Tent City

                        Thanks for the article LTR. It actually made me think of something. Maybe Best Buy wasn't paying these people, but they were certainly using them. As this article pointed out, they could have easily been given tickets, or wristbands, or someone could have simply taken their names and ID. As VP mentioned, there is no reason in this modern world why people should have to physically wait in line unless the store just wanted them to, for the publicity value.

                        It's pretty pathetic that Best Buy would go to the trouble of setting up this tent-city-like circus on what is already a very busy intersection, when they could have just given everyone a ticket. But their efforts paid off in the form of probably over a hundred thousand dollars worth of publicity. So it's not surprising they did it. But they were definitely using those people in one way or another. If they didn't pay them, it makes what they did even more of a disgrace.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Tent City

                          they could have easily been given tickets, or wristbands, or someone could have simply taken their names and ID. As VP mentioned, there is no reason in this modern world why people would have to physically wait in line unless the store just wanted them to, for the publicity value.

                          Agreed. Other stores did it...it's certainly not necessary to put people through that "torture" so why else would they "allow" it if not publicity? Speaking of that, I'm surprised the cops didn't come along and tell the campers to leave. (Nobody called the cops??) They wouldn't allow the homeless to do that, why a bunch of consumers?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Tent City

                            Exactly! Very good points LTR. I agree completely.

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