Never thought I’d be writing about this but it seems pretty relevant, given the times we live in. In a first glance, I thought, it’d be a prank of sorts. However, while reading more about it, I realized it is indeed a legit service. There are many companies offering varied sizes of crowds in India. So today, let’s talk about this lesser heard of a business model: rent-a-crowd.
A rent-a-crowd is a group of people hired to make a business, rally, protest appear, well supported, popular and busy. This can be used by businesses to create a hype around a product launch. Even political parties can use this to showcase and simulate the massive support from public. Are you as shocked to hear about this as I am? I mean of course there were a lot of allegations related to this on one or the other political group, but I never thought that such a service would be so easily accessible. It’s like we all know the dark secrets of business and politics but we don’t have a proof against them. However, in this case, even people like you and me can rent-a-crowd.
But Why Rent-A-Crowd?
But the real question is why would someone resort to such a technique? Is there even any real merit? Turns out their actually is. It is somewhat like stock markets. A stock catches fire and starts moving upwards and in no time reaches it’s all time high value (Eg. Gamestop Saga). Even if the fundamentals of that stock are weak, people rush in to buy a piece because they are now caught up in the hype. In other words “Herd Mentality” pushes them up to the brink of sanity and eventually they quit their own research and follow the crowd. That is exactly what happens here as well. People associate the success of a product or support of a political group with the crowd that follows.
Advantages Vs Disadvantages
The benefits of a gathering a crowd (Bheed) are a no brainer. If these demonstrations or events are executed carefully, they can lead to good conversion numbers. In fact, this does have a snowballing effect altogether. Masses get more masses and one thing leads to another. A well trained crowd can also attract some influential celebrities who may join your cause merely because of PR reasons. I can also see a use case of hiring crowds for shooting certain movie scenes. So, the possibilities are endless. But that doesn’t mean that there are no disadvantages of this marketing technique.
A. One clear disadvantage I feel is that it is unethical. It clearly deceives the people and doesn’t show them the real picture. While some of us do realize this, a greater chunk continues to draw a direct correlation between crowd and the cause. While I am at it, let me clearly mention that not all users are alike. It is bad when someone knowingly leverages the herd mentality.
B. If truth is revealed, those conversions we just talked about may drop at a rate faster than that of acquisition. People joined you because of trust in your cause/product. However, this breaches the very premise of their support.
C. Finally, it’d be indeed very embarrassing if someone finds out that you paid for all the support you have. It can be a serious blot on your honour and public image which can be quite difficult to wash.
How to Rent-A-Crowd in India?
Now that you are aware of pros and cons of this marketing strategy, let’s find out how to rent a crowd in India. There are a lot of services that are available locally for renting a crowd.
As an excerpt from Hindustan Times Notes:
“This is business as usual at Hajipur’s leading ‘rent-a-crowd’ shop. As the size of the crowds in political rallies determines the electoral solvency of ticket aspirants in election-bound Bihar, professional crowd contractors in Vaishali in north Bihar — just across the Ganga from Patna — are making a killing.” (Source)
And another one from Irish Tmes claims that a retired politician from South India has decided to open his own rent-a-crowd service in the country. (Source)
“I daily receive at least 250 telephone calls from those wanting to join my training programme,” Devarajan, who uses only one name, told the Hindustan Times in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvanthapuram, shortly after placing an advert in a local newspaper seeking candidates.”
“I get it. It is available locally. But do you expect me to go and search for a crowd renting service?” No. I don’t. Therefore, I found one service online that does this job. Bheed Gnr8r or simply crowd generator is a an online portal which could help you rent a crowd as per your requirement.
All you have to do is login to their site and scroll down to find a form. The form seeks your basic details like name, email ID and a comment box and their team will get back to you. I filled out the form mentioning that I need a ‘bheed’ of 500 people for a product launch and they did reach out to me within an hour of raising the request.
The email says, “Interested agencies/parties/people/individuals who need to hire crowds or paid performers or talent for reasons best known to them also need to register and then specify the requirements and provide all the necessary details. We’d also like to know if the clients are prepared to handle crowds, details about event and crowd management, and mode of payments, etc. This is to gauge the seriousness of interested/genuine parties.”
Since I am actually not looking to hire a crowd at this point in my life, the above answer seems enough to realize that this is a totally legit business.
Become a Part of the Crowd:
The Bheed Generator also gives you an opportunity of becoming a part of the crowd. You can register yourself by filling a rather detailed form that will ask you details like your height, weight, hair colour and type, T-Shirt Size etc. You are also asked to submit your KYC documents because of legal reasons (Irony is strong with this one). The fact that they ask for so many details, makes me think that this can be a serious business.
How much do you stand to earn by becoming one in the crowd? The site actually lets you quote your price for a day, half day or on a per hour basis. I remember how my father always says, always stand out of the crowd. May be not this time!
The site is completely legit and from the look of it, they seem to be absolutely serious about their business. Even I may someday decide to become a part of the ‘bheed‘. Of course, I’d chose my protests carefully if that is something in my hands. Also, it may be up to me to decide my worth, therefore it is in line with my perception of time and money.
What are your thoughts on this? Planning to hire or get hired?
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Until next time..