Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Puppet Show in A Traffic Jam

September 4th, 2009 | No Comments | Categories: Geek · New Music Strategies |

This is one of those weird stories that often results from me spending more than about 2 minutes in Andrew Dubber’s company. I think we bring out the tangentialist in each other.

We were sat chatting by the canal in Birmingham, and a boat went past, with a couple of little kids on it, waving at everyone on the bank, and getting ever so delighted when anyone waved back.

It’s something I remember very clearly from my childhood, the glee when the driver of the car behind waved back at you. But I remember one such even more than any other, because we were stuck in a traffic jam, and the couple in the car behind us put on an impromptu puppet show with the contents of their glove box. Boxes of tissues, maps, pens, sweets and other weirdness were fished out and danced along the dashboard in some weird wordless tribute to Oliver Postgate’s more stoner-esque moments.
I told Mr Dubber this and we agreed that at its best, marketing on line is a lot like a puppet show in a traffic jam. It is

  • free,
  • fun,
  • personal,
  • often impromptu,
  • serendipitous
  • and makes life better for the people looking at you.

I remember that encounter all these years on. If it happened now, and at the end of it they held up a piece of paper with a  URL on it, I’d probably go and look them up.

If they tried the same stunt from the hard shoulder as we drove past, we wouldn’t have seen it.

To put it on on a bridge would’ve cost too much and required too much planning.

To do it in the street would mean that most of the people walking by would ignore it due to them being busy.

And if they’d tried to sell tickets…

A lot of people on the internet are looking at it while sat in a “traffic jam” – could be that they’re at work, or at home and bored, or in school/college, or even in a meeting where they really ought to be more focussed on something else. Whichever, they are there to be amazed, wowed, surprised, entertained and connected with, if you’re willing to be the puppet show. I don’t remember any other work of theatre from when I was under the age of 10, but I remember that one. (Actually, I remember 2, and bizarrely the other one was also a junk puppet show, put on by our mad neighbours in Wimbledon, as our kitchen window faced theirs! What are the chances of that?)

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  • samina

    Ha! You’ve just left me inspired. I do playwork with an autistic child and he’s obsessed with cooking so we have plastic food in the playroom. Only recently been able to picture an object to have more than one use (couldn’t really join in with games that were heavy on the imagination), so now I’m thinking about silencing the puppets we usually feed and using the food as puppets instead (making them speak). Guess it’d be a bit like using Mr.Potato head. It might just help me model the word ‘eat’ a bit better. ‘eat me!’

    I’m probably sounding a bit nuts!

  • Otir

    How timely and sweet a story! With back to school time, I was “stuck” yesterday behind the schoolbus at pickup time, which means you stop every five minutes for several minutes, and the students in the back of the bus start making faces at you.

    I put my funny face back and waved at them, and after the third stop there definitely were a crowd of students laughing at me, obviously enjoying the ride and giving a break to the driver at the front!

    And to Samina, great doing the job on expanding on the child’s obsession, that a fabulous way to interest a child with autism and give him tools to learn new things!

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  • Will

    Fantastic allegory. It’s really interesting to see a fresh, new way of looking at online marketing and it’s own unique approach from someone who is clearly skilled in the art.

  • samina

    Ok so he didn’t look so impressed by talking plastic vegetables lol! I’m going to try again tomorrow though.

    Have a great Sat night!