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@Mark - thank you for adjusting for inflation. We'd want to stay as factual as possible... good hearing from you.

@Christopher - I like your post and the analogy a lot. I just might go ahead and share it in my Twitter stream :) Your assessment of the psychology of sharing to build self-esteem is spot on with what I observe. People do "claim ownership of the ad/content with the act of sharing it." We want to me missed, to count, to have value.

@Diego - something I had overlooked. Yes, the choice of song makes a big difference. Hey Jude was written to cheer a very special person up, and so choosing it is sending god energy to a crowd of people that now more than ever are facing difficulties in their lives.

@CK - stepping way back is something that marketers have a very hard time doing. They don't seem to trust that people will feel and connect without their help to control the experience. Good for CNN. It was probably not such a huge deal for them to do that, probably even much less expensive than a traditional ad buy. But they put themselves squarely where their viewers were that night. They created the opportunity to share an experience, which you will not forget. Great example, thank you.

As marketer, person, Beatles fan and fan of fun-and-silly events... what is not to love about this? I could understand if it was "too forced" or too salesy, but it wasn't. And that's what made it so successful and feel-good. Geez, in this hard time we need more feel-good experiences that bring us together.

The thing is, and this is a great example, a brand can plan the event... but then it has to step (way) back and let the people at it. That takes bravery (because ppl can make it soar or sink) and it takes giving them a great experience rather than a sales pitch.

BTW, while it wasn't a sing-a-long, I will never forget the tremendous (!) experience that CNN gave we NYCers on Election Night in Times Square with a big-screen, an area to watch the results, hot cocoa, popcorn and tons of strangers (who became fast friends) to let us enjoy the election results. While it was a CNN feed of election results, it was just like it was on TV and didn't force any extra sales pitches on us... it just let us congregate, socialize, cheer and be together. As a result? I now have new friends from all over Europe (yep, foreigners flew in for the election--which made it all the more special) and here in NYC. And it made me even more loyal to CNN because it gave us a space to enjoy the event, but it didn't control us. 30 of us even went out to celebrate right after until dawn and new friends were made all around. So, while CNN hosted the event, the experience was all "ours." Brilliant all around.

I'd like to add one thing, it's "Hey Jude" by The Beatles in the UK, a song that connects people, it's the song not the product.

This performance was so emotionally powerful than the product is not the telephone company but the value of singing along and feeling the energy of human connection.

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