The Halting Point

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bono and Oprah and The Gap make fans wait and freeze for nothing.

As part of The Gap's PRODUCT(RED) campaign, they arranged for Bono and Oprah to make an appearance at The Gap on the corner of Ohio and Michigan Ave. here in Chicago. According to the press release, (RED), the organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver, seeks to marry charity with consumer spending power, harnessing many international brands in their fight against AIDS in Africa. Some of the other companies participating in this are Converse, Emporio Armani and Motorola.

The campaign site features the entire range of PRODUCT(RED) albeit in an agonizingly slow slideshow format. Although to be fair it is October 12th right now, and their website says the line will be available October 13th. I saw the crowd of people on the way to work on the 151 this morning, so I stopped by and said that Oprah and Bono should be showing up at 9:15 I decided it was too damn cold and went to work. Went out again at 10 and there were even MORE people there. Both sides of the street were packed, as was the median in the road. As you can see from the pictures, there was quite a bit of space between my crowd of people I was standing in and the red carpet. It wasn't initially that bad when I first showed up at 9...we were right at the carpet, but then they kept pushing us back and back and back, and set up blockades.

Did I mention that during this time Chicago was in the midst of receiving its first flakes of snow of the year? Then, to add insult to freezing injury, a group of young too-trendy looking people show up all dressed in red with jackets on. Must be the gap employees. They of course got to line up about a foot away from the entrance and completely blocked any view we would have had. We then got to sit through some rousing fake cheers from the gap employees directed by the Harpo crew. Least we all got a good chuckle out of how fake it was. Although I admit I feel bad for some of those people because Harpo made them remove their jackets to get good footage, even though there were blistering winds.

Then, after about another 45 minutes of waiting, people start cheering as a Mercedes with its hazard lights on comes down the street and stops at the corner. Its Bono. He gets out and walks back to the red Thunderbird right behind him to open the driver's side door and lets out the big O. Although she wasn't that big. I'm not one to follow celebs, but Oprah looked pretty damn thin. The more amazing part of that though was that she was ACTUALLY DRIVING. Although I'm sure her "people" just had her driver get out of the car and swap seats with her at Illinois and Michigan. Can't leave things like that to chance now can we!

There was much cheering and then 5 seconds later it ended as Oprah and Bono promptly walked into the store, leaving the many fans, some of whom had been waiting for 2 hours to see them, standing slack-jawed in the freezing cold and flurries.

Did they need to push the fans back that far? Certainly not. Was it unfair for the Gap people to be right up front completely blocking the views of people who had been waiting for an hour or more? Most definitely.

When I left they were setting up a microphone stand and said that they would be speaking, but it would be a bit later, probably in more than an hour and they had no real idea when.

While I am all in favor of the promotion, which donates 50% of the PRODUCT(RED) proceeds to fight AIDS in Africa, I have to say that Harpo and The Gap really screwed over the fans on this one, making them wait in freezing weather for upwards of 2 hours just in order to get a 5 second glimpse of Bono and Oprah...if their view wasn't completely obstructed by The Gap employees. And for those thinking I should have been on the other side of the street, well, that wouldn't have been any better since there was a wall of news crews and massive camera rigs lining the edge of the sidewalk, preventing any reasonable view at all. The only good spot was on the median which looked like a bunch of castaways clinging to a life raft due to how many people were trying to crowd on there.

I asked if they would be coming back out to speak since there was a mic platform set up with all the news station mics, but they said it probably wouldn't be for another 45 minutes, if not an hour or more. Not really worth sticking around for with the weather like that. What a disappointment.

Us common folk completely distanced and blocked off from the "redshirts" before they were forced to remove their jackets by Harpo.

Shot of the store window with a text board talking about PRODUCT(RED)

Hilarious placard they placed near us on the sidewalk letting us know that Harpo OWNS us, or rather any images and video they take during this promotion.

*Note: All photos were taken by Michael Shostack, copyright 2006


  • WOW Michael. I can't believe how fast you wrote this.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/12/2006 2:24 PM  

  • Hi Michael!!! Love the pics. Thanks for standing in the freezing cold to give us a full report on Oprah and Bono.

    By Blogger Jessie, at 10/12/2006 6:13 PM  

  • I think whether this was really a disappointment or not depends on what the event was intended to be in the first place. I don't think it was ever meant as a "greet the public" event - it was a segment being filmed for tomorrow's Oprah TV show. I think the idea was that if public wanted to stand around and watch that was fine, but I don't think it was really intended for their participation. It was a purely staged thing. I never really expected more than a chance to grab a photo or two as they walked in the door, and that's what I got.

    By Anonymous Dpnash, at 10/12/2006 7:14 PM  

  • I agree with dpnash. It was a staged photo op for Oprah's show and was never promised to be anything but that. Nice picture you took though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/12/2006 8:06 PM  

  • What Dpnash said.

    Dude, just chiiiiiiiill.

    By Anonymous mishka, at 10/12/2006 10:51 PM  

  • dpnash

    If you look in your photo, in the upper left of the crowd in the background just under the boom, you can see a guy holding up a camera above the crowd. That's me!

    By Blogger Halting Point, at 10/13/2006 12:01 AM  

  • Are you sure that's you? Your photos all look like you were on the Gap side of the street - the crowd visible in the photo I linked is on the Guess side. You could be in one of my others, though. (I was looking for myself in WGN TV's footage this morning. I was standing on the Michigan Ave. median between Gap and Virgin Megastore.)

    By Anonymous dpnash, at 10/13/2006 10:55 AM  

  • dpnash

    My bad, you're right, those angles are screwing me all up. I was indeed next to the Gap on Michigan. Good call. Great shot btw.

    By Blogger Halting Point, at 10/13/2006 12:03 PM  

  • I'm guessing you don't know what kind of effort it takes to shoot something like that...and air it the next morning. In less then 16 hours about thirty people shot and cut that show. You should write about that, as well as the 25,000 babies that won't have Aids transmitted to them by their mothers because of yesterdays "Shopping". Also Oprah drove from the studio all by herself. I really like your blog... funny stuff.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/13/2006 12:18 PM  

  • Dear Anonymous,

    In Michael's defense he actually DOES know what it takes to shoot, edit and put a segment together, considering the line of work he does and all. Yesterday he was simply going out to get a nice shot of Oprah and Bono. He does care about and fully support the cause but did not know that the gimmick was not a meet and greet.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/13/2006 2:55 PM  

  • What a whiney article! Just because one is crazy enough to stand outside in the cold, does not mean that they DESERVE to meet whatever celebrity they are waiting for. It's not a given.They didn't tell you to be goofy and wait around.

    If you had a bad day because Bono didn't wink at you, you really need to get a life.

    By Anonymous Felicia, at 10/13/2006 4:30 PM  

  • "The Gap really screwed over the fans on this one, making them wait in freezing weather for upwards of 2 hours just in order to get a 5 second glimpse of Bono and Oprah"

    Really? The GAP made you stand for 2 hours? How did they force you to do this, at gunpoint? Were you kidnapped and forced to be cold for 2 hours out of some evil agenda by The GAP, or Oprah, or Bono?

    Methinks the writer of this article might be just a touch self-centered. Who knows why they were late, or why they personally inconvenienced the writer. And dummies like me thought the main purpose of their appearance was to promote a charitable program rather than meet all the individual expectations of people who made their own choices to stand around for a celebrity sighting, and can't take a little responsibility for their decisions.

    Sometimes people go out of their way to find something to bitch about. Way to lose focus on the main point dude (hint: it's not about you).

    By Blogger Juddy-Chris, at 10/13/2006 11:57 PM  

  • I totally agree with dpnash. No one had to stand out in the cold weather for 2 hrs. to see Oprah or Bono. No one was taken advantage of. This wasn't a celebrity watching event. This was to promote the "Go Red" campaign for charity and Gap is a sponsor store. All of us need to focus on how we can do our part to make the world a better place. Let's all buy a T-shirt, a jean jacket, an Ipod, a watch or whatever item we want or give one as a gift. Why not do something to make a difference. Oprah is an inspiring, generous person with such a loving spirit. I hope to meet her someday and I truly wish that she and I were good friends. Jan 10/16

    By Anonymous Jan, at 10/16/2006 11:10 AM  

  • I think the point of this event was simply to raise awareness of the Global Fund and a new way to support the charity. As for the sign you have photographed it is merely a disclaimer - standard at events of this proportion. Why don't you try thinking about the 6,500 people dying of AIDS in Africa EACH DAY rather than the morning you spent (voluntarily) out in the cold with hopes to see a celebrity.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/16/2006 6:45 PM  

  • damn you mike. why can't you realize that, just because a bunch of people voluntarily take time to wait around in the cold to show support for two celebrities and their work, that doesn't make it a matter of common decency for those celebrities to take 5 minutes and acknowledge that those people exist? Don't you realize they have a lot of events they have to do to raise public awareness about AIDS and they don't have the time to deal with random crowds of people that show up and start paying attention to them?

    It's clear that you hate kids with AIDS.

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