Blu Dot's 'Real Good' Marketing Experiment

Posted by: Helen Walters on November 03, 2009

RGC.jpgSmall companies without the vast budgets of large corporations have no choice but to think creatively about how to market their wares. On Wednesday November 4th, Minneapolis-based furniture design Blu Dot is launching an interesting-sounding experiment in New York City. Capitalizing on city denizens’ apparent obsession with both leaving and taking pieces of furniture on the sidewalk, Blu Dot is leaving 25 of its iconic “Real Good” metal chairs (one shown) around the city.

Banking on the idea that they won’t be left lying around for long, the designers hope that each one will be taken to a “real good” home. There’s a 2.0 twist, too: the chair has its own Twitter account, while most of the chairs have been embedded with a GPS chip so that they can be tracked online in real time. “Who will take them? Where will they end up? How will they be used?” asks Blu Dot co-founder John Christakos. “We have visions you may find one under a bridge being used by a group of homeless people, another in a hipster’s apartment. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s fun.”

Both Christakos and Michael Hart, co-founder and creative director of Mono, the agency working with Blu Dot on the project, are aware that the project could backfire. After all, some New Yorkers might not respond well to a chair left lying in the street with a potentially ominous cell phone/GPS tracker/battery pack device attached. And some might not like the idea that they were stalked by the project organizers, who intend to approach the chairs’ new owners to see if they’d take part in a documentary film about the project.

But Hart and Christakos are both open to seeing what happens. “This isn’t about tricking people. It’s more about curiosity and an invitation,” says Hart. “If folks aren’t happy to tell their story then we’ll totally respect that. It’s not about invading their privacy. And really, if nothing else then we will have given the city of New York 25 free chairs.”

An aside, but here's a video I shot at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in May of this year. Maurice Blanks, one of the other founders of Blu Dot, features about half way through:

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Reader Comments

jagi

November 5, 2009 08:38 PM

The 'idea' is surely innovative but there is nothing 'Real Good' about it. If one is being tracked down by a chip in the piece of furniture and she/he doesn't know about it - its really not fun at that point. No one want to be found as a furniture picker from the street. So get some 'real good' and innovative ideas for your small business and stop tracking and invading into people's privacy. Do not use technology to exploit but to enhance everyone's life. This is a trust breaking deal - what if you are using a chip in every furniture without prior notice? How would one know? If you can do it once you can do it again.

~ A consumer

LazyMom

November 6, 2009 03:02 PM

Tell me where one is...I will take home the poor abandoned chair.
LazyMom
http://lazymomcafe.blogspot.com/

Dylan

November 8, 2009 02:48 PM

I think this experiment sounds really cool. Nothing like this has been done before. Who doesn't like free stuff? And as the co-founder makes clear there is no pressure for the owner of the chair to be involved in the documentary. This is a great way for Blu Dot to expand its marketing research and possibly discover a whole new audience.

Alex

November 12, 2009 06:54 PM

Something similar to this has been done before. Some bag designer did this not that long ago. Also in NY, I think. Too bad I can't remember the name. However, I think they twittered mysterious tweets about the bags' locations and bag fans had to go find them.

Michael Lynch

November 14, 2009 02:36 PM

Very creative. I have no doubt that this will work as planned. I also think that if the results match the prediction, then the brand will do well.

mike

November 15, 2009 07:04 PM

creative, but very stupid.

Asiza Ilicic

November 24, 2009 08:16 PM


You have to think and be different to stand out.
Just writing about it in this blog they've accomplished their goals.
Their brand will succeed,only if they will keep surprising us with their creative ideas.
Very cool!

Esteban

December 18, 2009 10:53 AM

The idea is fresh but it need work. Maybe twitter shoud ask what model of chair you like best, and then advise were you left certain model. Youtube can show the "moment" of the winner and Blu Dot can give a good discount to the rest. Just an idea whith no GPS stuff.
Good Luck!

Param Puneet Singh

January 21, 2010 04:20 AM

Very Interesting!

Susan Rudee

January 21, 2010 06:43 PM

Designer Rachel Nasvik did something similar http://blog.garrettspecialties.com/2009/06/fun-unique-interesting/free-goodie-bag-scavenger-hunt/ I think it is a great way to create brand exposure!

robert

January 22, 2010 03:36 AM

Small business

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What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!.........

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February 4, 2010 12:18 AM

I think home business can be the trend of the future. All we need to do is focus on how to get products and services delivered without the store on main street. If your profit was the expence of the store downtown you could beat his price everytime. In order for a switch like this to work we must be open minded to home delivery. for example www.harvestamerica.igrocerybiz.com. They ship groceries to your door and dont charge a penny frieght. My last order was 49% cheaper and delivered to my door!

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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