Friday, June 05, 2009

Why is this guy camping out at BestBuy?

Today I visited BestBuy in Newington to purchase a DVD. As I walked in, I noticed a young man sitting in one of those folding camp chairs next to the front door. At first, I couldn't quite figure out what he was doing there. But as I shopped, it occurred to me that it looked like he was camping out, presumably for some kind of hot new electronic product. But clearly, one person does not a line make, and I couldn't fathom what new electronic item could make him want to camp out on the sidewalk with a 12-pack of Coca-Cola under his chair.

Happily, when I was leaving, another similarly curious shopper had stopped and asked him the very question burning in my brain: "What are you doing here?"

"I'm camped out for the the Palm Pre!"

Uh... Oh. Okayyyyyy....

I listened as he explained that the BestBuy would have just five (5) available tomorrow morning and he wanted to be sure he got one. The young man (he appeared early 20s) had done his research and determined the Pre might not be available at the local Sprint store, so this was his only shot.

As he went on, he sounded so knowledgeable it was almost scripted, and I wondered, "Could he be a plant?!" Because, hey, that's a pretty good guerrilla marketing tactic. Plant somebody outside a retailer the day before a product luanch, give him some talking points, and let him evangelize. It could create buzz about the product and a perception of product scarcity. It could offer an opportunity to promote a product's features and advantages to a targeted audience, and delivered it from a neutral and trustworthy source. Best case, the plant could even create a line! Worst case, somebody might just blog about it. ;-)

For the low-down on the Pre, here's a great 3 minute video blog posted just a couple hours ago from the incomparable David Pogue of the New York Times:

Hmmm... I guess the Pre could stand for Pretty cool. But is it the iPhone killer? I guess one guy thinks so!