In a marketing stunt that could have been dreamed up by shopping mall pop queen Tiffany and Internet savvy political operative Joe Trippi, singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne this spring will take part in a "flash-mob" concert tour. The appearances - to be held in shopping malls - are part of the publicity blitz surrounding her next record, Under My Skin, which will be released in late May.
"Flash mobs," popular last summer among hipsters and computer geeks, are rooted in Internet culture where blogging and electronic message boards rule. They work like this: Someone posts or e-mails a message inviting anyone who wishes to show up at a particular place at a particular time. The message is posted with little advance notice. When a crowd forms, participants have a short, impromptu party.
Beginning Thursday, Lavigne will travel to 21 cities where she will appear at as-yet-undisclosed flash-mob sites in shopping malls. At each stop, she will give a free mini-concert. On March 18 and 19, she's scheduled to stop in Philadelphia and "in the D.C. area," respectively, says a spokeswoman from Arista, the company producing the CD.
At each stop, Lavigne and guitarist Evan Taubenfeld will perform three songs from the singer's first record Let Go and new three singles.
In true "flash mob" form, Arista won't reveal precise times or places for Lavigne's appearances until 48 hours before each event. (The secrecy is meant to build excitement for the new record, according to the spokeswoman.)
It will also help build a fan database: Those who wish to be personally notified about the concerts must provide their e-mail addresses at Lavigne's Web site (www.avrillavigne.net). They'll receive an e-mail or, if they choose, an automated voice mail message with the time and location of the free concert. Of course, details also will be announced on radio stations and on AOL's Digital City Web sites.