StubHub gets aggressive on the streets of the city.

StubeHubI was getting out of the subway this morning and thinking, “What will I write about for tomorrow’s blog?” when StubHub slapped me in the face.

On the West side of Broadway, between 49th and 50th Street, the scalping ticketing giant has bought the windows of an old electronics store and Colony Music, and put up outdoor advertising that wraps all the way around the corner.

It’s a mammoth buy.  And I couldn’t help but notice.

And taking a cue from the giant camera billboards in Times Square like this one, StubHub made their windows “interactive.”  And taking a cue from McDonalds (whose “Ronald McDonald” character made them billions), they created a cartoony character named Ticket Oak.

Ticket Oak is a tree . . . that gives you tickets.  I mean, I’m not sure it’s as on point as Ronny McD, but whatever (you can watch the Ticket Oak commercial here.) 

So here’s how the windows work.

There’s a video screen.  And it’ll take your picture.  And then, surprise, surprise, if you put in your email address (which was a little tricky, by the by), the Ticket Oak will email you the pic.

It’s a pretty good device, although I’ll be curious to see how many people per day do it.  (I walk by every day about six times so I’ll give you an update.)

But I’m not writing about it because of its marketing prowess.

I’m writing about it because it seems to be the most aggressive form of marketing that StubHub has done, since it started dominating the secondary ticket market (and since being purchased by eBay).  They tried an actual ticket outlet south of 42nd Street.  And I wonder if they are thinking about trying that again.

But whether they do or don’t, something’s up.  And they’re definitely making a move to get more of our buyers to become their buyers.

And that means we’re going to have to be on top of our game to make sure we keep the customers we’ve worked so hard to get.

Maybe we should get a few windows of our own.


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  • James says:

    As long as theatres choose to get their money upfront as fast as possible, scalpers will exist. When I come to New York, usually on a business trip) it is often last minute or I don’t know how much free time I will have until just before. By then, the shows I wish to see are often sold out so I will go to a “ticketing agency.”

    Theatres/producers could get that higher revenue if they held back tickets and sold them themselves that day or a few days in advance (perhaps even a la E-Bay with a timed auction.) Frankly I don’t care who gets the money so long as I get the tickets. So you can’t complain about wanting the proverbial $300 bird in the bush while taking the $137 bird in the hand.

  • N Toohey says:

    I think as a marketing idea for shows the “photo booth” idea is great. Image you passed a window with images from the musical Wicked and you could have your picture taken but wait for the up sell… get your image with the cast of Wicked. Wow!! Of course you will want this emailed to you and then you will want this on your Facebook page to show all your friends.
    The producers build a database and the punter gets to be on stage at a Broadway musical.

  • Ilene Argento says:

    I don’t know that StubHub would be an enemy. TKTS can be an enemy, but StubHub usually charges MORE for tickets than the theatre, so that could actually HELP sales. Outside of Broadway, having StubHub is a safety net for those of us who buy large packages of season tickets to various theatres (for example, BroadwayLA at the Pantages in Hollywood). If we have a show in the season that we don’t want, we list ’em on StubHub and let someone else go in our place. That same person could still go to the box office and pay face value if they aren’t concerned about getting great seats, but it can be a GOOD thing. If someone is willing to pay MORE than face value, I’d think that would bode well for the box office vs. TKTS selling at a loss for Producers.

  • Jeff says:

    So, if you can’t sell out the house and people go to discount houses, that’s a problem.

    And, if you sell your tickets and make all the money you expected, but someone resells them, that’s still a problem?

    Sold out shows could easily go paperless, like many concert venues have, and that reduces scalping, so that the people in the seats are the people who paid for them.

    Of course, one imagines, if you killed the secondary market, that wouldn’t get rid of premium seating, which was a response to resellers.

    So, if you can kill the resale market AND premium seating, then I’m on board. If it’s just kill secondary market and premium seating stays, then what’s the benefit?

    You know that taste of premium seating revenue is never going to allow producers to remove it again. 😉

    So, don’t you need the secondary market so you can keep saying that was the justification for it?

  • Allison says:

    I agree with Ilene. StubHub has struggled to break into the Broadway market, but they have had recent success in moving full price (and above) Broadway tickets. And they didn’t just buy the windows, they are moving into Colony. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  • Carl White says:

    “And they’re definitely making a move to get more of our buyers to become their buyers.”

    Such a silly statement. Everyone of their buyers is also your buyer by conversion. They can only sell a ticket that has been bought from your box office. That means they have facilitated a purchase for you.

    What you mean to say is that “we” hope someone that buys our tickets and can no longer use them or someone that bought them on speculation to make a profit will get stuck with the tickets so that we can sell even more tickets at the expense of one of our customers.

    This just speaks to greed and ignorance. In my opinion StubHub actually makes you more money as they make it so easy for people to re-sell unwanted tickets and/or tickets bought for profit that people will be more comfortable making the purchase knowing they have an outlet to recoup most or all of their money. It leads to ticket brokers over buying your shows and getting stuck with tickets or having to sell tickets at a loss to buyers that only buy them and go to the show because of the discount. A discount they pay for, not you.

    In the past “your customer” may say, “should we buy these tickets, we may not be able to attend? OK, lets not buy the tickets”. Thanks to StubHub they now say “should we buy these tickets, we may not be able to attend? Sure, if we can not go we can just sell them on StubHub.”

    Embrace new markets, do not be scared of them.

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