How to help Kanye West

Just when I thought I was getting pretty cool for a 40-something business executive and father of two teenagers, I’m humbled yet again.
It started with a text from Joe Chang, a ZeroDash1 consultant, asking me to attend Kanye West’s “Glow in the Dark After Party”. Ok, the name sounded vaguely familiar, but did I really have to ask, “Who is Kanye West?” The ridicule lasted for the next two days from my family, co-workers, and friends. You would have thought I didn’t know the name of the pope or something. Wait… nevermind.
So, Kanye West, the mega rap star, who’s been on television constantly according to the rest of the world who knew about him, kicked off his “Glow in the Dark” tour in Seattle on Wednesday (April 16, 2008). As part of the promotion, he sponsored an After Party that night to an exclusive list of 400 guests.
Shortly after the text, an invitation email came with a very nice creative design, and cool flash. I RSVP’ed, but later found out that I had given the wrong email address for my wife, Shari. Since this was an “exclusive” event, I wanted to make sure that she was on the guest list, and considered just forwarding her the invite. Then, it hit me. Hum, how many others would forward this email? Did the organizers have a way of deciphering those on the original invitation list versus other respondents?
The answer came from another text from Joe, encouraging us to show up early because the invites had been redistributed to the masses. Starbucks had a more infamous such incident in 2006, when it emailed a free iced coffee coupon to a few of its partners (employees) in the Southeast region of the US. These partners were supposed to forward to only a few friends and family. Well, the latter recipients had their own friends and family, including people outside Southeast US. When the redistributions got out of hand, Starbucks stopped honoring the coupons, causing a public relations nightmare. Viral marketing can be too successful. These campaigns need to be well thought out.
Being that this was the tour’s kickoff event, I’m sure the organizers will tweak the campaign for other cities. They will have to develop a plan for matching responding emails to the original invitation email addresses (perhaps through a landing page setup). Another option could have been requiring the printout of the invite and matching the names on the printed invite at the door. Tools such as e-vite has the capability of restricting redistributions, but would also restrict the use of the campaign’s creative design.
Had ZeroDash1 been involved in this campaign, we could have helped avoid such oversights. Additionally, ZeroDash1 could have come up with productive ways to re-leverage the list of qualified respondents. These are very segmented and targeted list of people with obvious interest in music, and in particular, Kanye West.
As for the event, we showed up early and had no problem getting in. They did check the invite list for everyone. The crowd was young, attractive and enjoying the free product from sponsor Absolut. Ok, I must say that the young women were very fashionably dressed, but not so appropriately for the evening’s cold weather. As a parent… blah, blah, blah. Darn! I’m sounding old again!
Mr. West’s concert at the Key Arena had rave reviews by the local press. One of my friends who went to the show, said, “Awesome! He’s the sh*t!” Jiawen Shi, a wealth management consultant, had joined us after the concert. That was a big Kanye West night for her. She obviously knew who he was.
The problem for me was that the concert didn’t end until around 11:30 pm. So, while Shari was having more and more fun on the dance floor with her friends as the night went on, I started thinking about the pending work day coming up. Finally at 12:45 am, I high-jacked her from the dance floor and headed out. Just then, Mr. West made his appearance stepping out of a white Hummer limo, which made me very unpopular at home the rest of that night… uh, I meant morning. I was once again labeled, “old and lame”. Such a geezer.