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LOS ANGELES With the simple swipe of a bracelet, guests at Wednesday night’s T-Mobile Sidekick 4G launch promoted the wireless giant’s brand on social networking sites. “Social marketing is so big in events,” said Brent Bolthouse, who produced the launch party at the former Robinsons May lot, together with Jeffrey Best of Best Events. “But we’ve managed to take it to the next level.”
The next level came in the form of radio frequency identification (R.F.I.D.) bracelets, with microchips embedded with guests’ Twitter or Facebook account information. Guests could sync a bracelet with the social networking site of their choice when R.S.V.P.ing for the event, or through computers at check-in. Once inside, guests merely had to scan the bracelet at stations scattered throughout the party to send automated updates—mentioning T-Mobile’s Sidekick and 4G network, of course—about event experiences, like walking the magenta carpet, waiting for band the Strokes to take the stage, or participating in interactive entertainment stations.
Many of those entertainment stations focused on demonstrating the Sidekick’s capabilities and the perks of the 4G network. “Obviously, it was important to highlight social media, but we also wanted to create interactive and modern stations with the Sidekick and show that 4G is the fastest network,” said Bolthouse, who with Best received direction from T-Mobile’s senior manager of product marketing, Cassie Jenkins. Guests experienced the new phone’s group texting abilities at the “Sidekick Sushi Social,” where they had use Sidekicks to text orders, which would then appear on a screen streaming messages and orders from fellow partygoers. At the “4G Challenge Racetrack,” guests tested the speed of their mobile device against the Sidekick in a race to download a Strokes music video.
If updating virtual friends about one’s activities at an exclusive red carpet event failed to entice attendees to scan R.F.I.D. bracelets, T-Mobile added an incentive by providing guests who swiped bracelets with tokens redeemable for gifts at the Sidekick Gift Shop. Brands like Juicy Couture, Michael Stars, and Vans donated items to the shop, which had one of the longest lines throughout the evening.
Of course, the shop also featured a scan station allowing guests to inform the virtual world of their shopping spree. Those who preferred to update social streams the old fashion way—by typing out a message on mobile devices—were free to do so, but signs throughout the party encouraged them to add a “#SK4G” hashtag to any communication. It was a launch party, after all, and T-Mobile had a phone to promote.