Let’s pretend for a moment that you are the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles. You have to close a 10-mile section of the 405 Freeway, which is one of the main highway arteries in the city.
The closure isn’t happening for a month, but you’re freaked out about the disruption and havoc this is going to wreak on traffic patterns (like the freeways aren’t parking lots to begin with, amirite?). How would you handle getting the message out for people to avoid the highway all together during the closure?
Would you A) throw up some advertisements or road signs on the highway? B) Have the message hammered home daily on the nightly news or on the front page of the LA Times? or C) Would you get celebrities to tweet about the closure?
If you chose “C” then you just won a box of Cracker Jacks, friend.
According to the LA Times, the LAPD, “announced that it was asking celebrities with large Twitter followings –- including actors, musicians and professional athletes – to send messages helping authorities get the word out. Officials want the celebrities not just to urge their followers about avoiding the 10-mile stretch of the roadway that will be closed on the weekend of July 15 but to encourage them to stay close to home.”
So far, they’ve approached Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. Kutcher, with his seven million followers, was the first to respond.
Clever, actually. A little tit for tat. Might as well get something out of the deal, right? Except that he just tweeted about it and gave up his bargaining leverage with the LAPD.
The strange thing about this, though, is what percentage of these celebrity Twitter followers live in Los Angeles? The strategy employed by the LAPD doesn’t seem to be a very focused or targeted one. Sure, maybe they’ll pick up some retweets along the way and the message will get out, but it still seems to make the most sense to target the citizens of Los Angeles who use the 405 Freeway rather than the millions of followers of Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher.