• A guerrilla campaign that may not work — but is certainly welcome
In Britain, Talk Talk is engaging in a reverse pickpocketing scheme. In a move intended to show that companies can put money back into the pockets of consumers, as well as taking it out, the mobile phone and broadband provider has sent out 20 “putpockets” into the streets of London where they will slip five pound or 20 pound notes into the pockets and purses of unsuspecting people. “With so many scams out there, Britons have become very sceptical of companies giving money away,” said TalkTalk’s Mark Schmid. “We have turned to put-pocketing to give something back. Whilst unconventional, we don’t think anyone is going to mind finding a crisp £20 in their pocket.”
Many of the putpockets are actually reformed pickpockets, such as Chris Fitch, who now heads the project. “Every time I put money back in someone’s pocket, I feel less guilty about the fact I spent many years taking it out.”
Each participant has been given a special ID card and is accompanied by a “minder,” just in case they’re caught. While the initial action is taking place in London, the plan is to expand the reverse thievery across the country, with at least 100,000 pounds being given away eventually.
The company claims that it informed the police before embarking on the stunt, but Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is denying this. “This kind of thing would not be approved by the MPS because it could lead to misunderstandings and confrontations and it might lead to a form of cover for actual pick-pocketing,” said a police spokesman. Still, they have no intention of asking Talk Talk to cease and desist, although they are warning that it might cause trouble.
I don’t know how well this will work as advertising — so far only a small percentage of the news stories concerning the stunt are even mentioning the sponsoring company’s name. On the other hand, unlike Ikea’s latest gaffe, there aren’t likely to be many people actively complaining about it.
We await further developments with interest.