Ooooh, I could advertise there!

Ever since I started producing . . . and ever since I’ve had to start paying the high price of media in Manhattan . . . I’ve become hyper-sensitive to spots where I can put an ad.  It’s a little like my own personal “punchbuggy” game.

I spot something.  I scream “Ad space!”.  And then someone usually punches me in the arm for being a nut job.

I was flying to LA two days ago and I couldn’t help but notice the back of the tray table/seat in front of me (see photo).  I stared at it for six straight hours (a toddler kicking the seat behind me made sure I didn’t sleep a wink).  But look at the open real estate.  Someone could put an ad there.  And since it was a flight in/out of NY, a theater ad would make a lot of sense, don’t you think?

Will the airline ever sell this space?  Since the airline industry is one of the most financially troubled on the planet, maybe someday.  But they’ll probably resist, because advertising inside the plane is almost like theater owners advertising inside a theater . . . slightly tacky.

But that’s not my point.  My point is that as a Producer you’ve got to have your eyes open for opportunities everywhere . . . for new shows, new actors, and yes, new advertising space.  Everybody looks at the plays coming out of the Goodman.  Everybody looks at the actors coming out of Juilliard.  And yes, everybody looks at the billboards for sale in Times Square.

And for good reason, because all those things produce quality products . . . they just unfortunately have high costs, and an extremely competitive market.

So for you to stay competitive, you’ve got to be looking in the places no one else is.

Because there is gold in other hills.  As long as you’ve got your eyes open.


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



– 41 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Enter the Sunday Giveaway:  Win 2 tickets to see Million Dollar Quartet Off-Broadway!  Click here.


  • Dan says:

    In 2009, Allegiant Air partnered with Blue Man Group Las Vegas to cross-sell tickets. The airplane was full of BMG ads, and if I remember correctly, Allegiant Air was featured in the show.

  • DawnKA says:

    Hilarious!!! But you may be on to something 🙂

  • Jen says:

    A couple of airlines have put ads on the tray tables, actually. I believe Virgin Atlantic was the most memorable – but they were on the side that you put your drink on.

  • Beki says:

    Recently flew on US Airways and there was a Verizon ad on the Tray table in First Class. I think it is a great idea!

  • Stephanie Warren says:

    I’ve seen ads there before and also on the overhead bin doors. The coolest thing I have seen was at the Venetian Hotel has remote control covers for Blue Man Group. You had to encounter it to use the remote and it offered a discount that you could book through the concierge by dialing to the lobby.

  • Jack Dyville says:

    Hey Ken
    The airlines ads makes good sense – especially on the flights from L.A. to NYC – so until they give in and agree to let you purchase – why not just put out a call for all your Followers to take out their Sharpies On Board and scribble… See G O D S P E L L.
    Man all your ideas are Good One! They always make sense, just difficult for all of us poor playwright/producers to put all of them to work.
    Jack Dyville

  • Regarding today’s blog, maybe advertising on GRACE NOTES is one answer. As you know, 92% of my readers are at the top of their profession in the theatre world. And my rates are quite reasonable. Let me know and I’ll send you my rate card.

  • Joe K says:

    Must every square inch of everything we see be covered in ads? Yes it would be an opportunity but people just start tuning these ads out after a while as background clutter.

  • Many broadway shows are NOT advertised at bus stops or billboards in neighborhoods like Washington Heights and Innwood. Since I live in Washington Heights and there are a few Tony award winners that are my neighbors, it’s a topic that has come up in our “theater talk” conversations. These are growing communities where many theater people are moving to and many avid theater attendees live – and increasing bway/off bway advertising, particularly for a show like Godspell, would be profitable.

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    The tray tables might have saved “Catch Me If You Can”

  • Charles says:

    Here’s an idea: National Cinema Media will run TV spots at local multiplex cinemas, prior to each movie, for about $1.25 per ad. It’s a great deal, and we will be using this service to market our show “Ballroom Rocks”.

  • Charles- I have negotiated millions of dollars of ad time/space and the issue I always had with ads in movie theaters were the audience measurement. They sell it based on the total audience in the theaters but- having gone to many movies- I notice most people get there AFTER the ads have stopped running! That means the actual CPM is more than double what they sell it as.
    So, while I love the concept of this, I hate that their methodology is so obviously flawed.

  • I still can’t believe they sell ads on the turnstiles at stadiums and arenas.
    You only see them for just a second as you walk in- and I don’t remember what any of them were advertising.

  • Bryan David says:

    You can put:
    Davenport Rehearsal Studio in NYC
    250 West 49th Street, Suite 302
    New York, New York
    Anywhere you choose in the program & theater for:
    “Whitechapel” ©
    The Life & Times of: ‘Jack The Ripper’
    A Musical Love Story! ™

  • Janiska says:

    What about the seat backs at your own productions? You could advertise upcoming productions or sell ads to other productions, etc.
    A theater in Kentucky sold live commercials between first and second acts and another sold ads on their curtain (to a Kentucky whiskey company).
    Several years ago, I was at the Minneapolis airport. The walls of the airport were covered with theater posters re-worked by local artists. They were beautiful, made an impression and were not easily forgotten. Great advertising and cross-selling of art (visual artists advertising theater artists.

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