A Food Court effed up an outdoor ad.

I was starving.  Like Oliver! in the orphanage starving, except I hadn’t even had one bowl of gruel.

I set out down Chicago’s truly Magnificent Mile, on my way to a fave restaurant that was about a seven minute stride away when I saw a mini billboard . . . of a burger.

According to this outdoor ad, that saliva-inducing burger was just steps away at a restaurant inside Water Tower Place, a mall that I just walked by.

The ad was so good (and its timing was even better), that I spun around and set out to find that burger, and destroy it with my mouth.

I found the restaurant on the 2nd floor of the mall, inside a food court.

And that’s where things got real.

The burger place was next to a chicken place, a sushi place, a pretzel place, a Mexican place . . . and, gulp, a pizza place.

And suddenly, like Oliver! at an Oktoberfest, I was so overwhelmed with options I didn’t know what to choose.

After about 10 minutes, I decided on . . . the pizza.

I forgot all about the burger that got me to the mall in the first place.  And went with something that made my mouth water just a wee bit more.

After I was satiated, I couldn’t help but think back on my experience with advertising that day.  (Tip to all of you to better understand how marketing works – whenever you buy anything . . . clothes, music, burgers . . . think about the path you took to that purchase.  Did advertising get you there?  Or remind you to buy?)

That poor burger company paid a lot of money for that ad, and then, when they got me to the point of purchase, they lost me, because their competition was right next door.

Us theater Producers have a very similar problem.  Our food court is our ticketing companies.

Broadway shows and Off Broadway shows spend millions of dollars, and we are contractually urged to push a marketing message that says, “Visit TICKETING SITE today.”  What happens when a consumer goes to that generic ticketing site, and sees a show that excites them more or a show that has been in the news or has placed a lot of other media?  I could lose ’em.  Just because we share a cash register.

This is why all shows should push buyers to their website, so you as the Producer can somewhat control where the BUY TICKETS link is going (to your event page, where the only option is tickets for your show).

The ticketing companies have started to ease up on the enforcement of some of their “direct to our site” contractual requirements (not sure why they ever cared, actually, since they make the money however the customer gets there).  And some of the ticketing companies have smartly designed software that allows you to “skin” their site with your brand, so it looks like your customer has never left your site.

Shows spend a lot of money on advertising to convert customers, and we shouldn’t have to worry about losing a customer to another show just because we share the same electronic roof.

If that happens often enough, a show could really end up starving.


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  • Ellen Cohn says:

    Very thoughtful commentary. Such a bright bulb you are!

  • Adrienne says:

    I work at a state university. In the last eighteen months joined the twenty-first century and began using a digital ticketing system. Your comment about ticket site skins was interesting to me as it was a major selling point for our organization. That being said , ones organization is only as strong as their skins. If your presentation of content is still fifteen years behind it does not matter if your ability to process tickets to the content if modern or not.

    This is one of the reasons that I feel bigger organizations with a less nimble response are at a great disadvantage. An ad hoc, pop up, won’t exist for more than one tax cycle organization, is able to find a much more elegant solution to almost any problem the a deurocratic behemoth that has existed for over one hundred years and intends to exist for another century.

  • larry little says:

    Glad you had a good time in Chicago. How did you like “RIDE THE CYCLONE”?

  • While we’re complaining about ticketing companies – one of my biggest issues is the need for the patron to “create a log-in” to purchase. It’s a big barrier to the purchase, and there are very few companies left that don’t require it. What you often see happening is that someone goes to buy a ticket, and it asks them to create a log-in. They go to do that, and it says “you already have a login under that email address”, because they bought tickets to some unrelated event at some other venue 3 years ago. The customer then has to go through a password reset… if they are still interested in buying a ticket to your show.

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