Why you should NOT market your show like Disney markets theirs.

Disney is a modern marketing miracle.  The strength and power of their marketing reach is baked into the company’s DNA.  They own theme parks, movie studios, television stations, radio stations, retail stores, and, of course, they produce Broadway shows.

When you operate that many businesses (and good ones, I might add), they all feed into one another.  I call it “The Marketing Circle” (but in this case maybe we should call it “The Marketing Circle of Life”).  One company is connected to another, which is connected to another, which is connected to another until they connect with the first and they complete the circle.

To put it simply, when you market one, you market all.

I don’t think there is a company on earth that more successfully transitions its customers from one subsidiary to another to another than Disney.

And there are very few companies (if any) that can come close to that kind of customer reach.

That’s why it shocked the @#$% out of me when I overheard someone on a show say recently, “We should do what Disney does.”

Disney is a big gigundo business.  In addition to all the marketing benefits above, they’ve got more resources and more time to amortize any expense they incur.  They can out market, outspend, and outlast just about anyone.  And they will.

New Broadway shows are like startups.  You’ve got one show, one company . . . and that’s it.  Your advertising should all be focused on getting through the next six months . . . not thinking about the next six years . . . or six decades.

Even attempting to advertise like a “blue chip” in the biz would cause you to go broke before you could even get a footing in the market.

If you were launching a new computer, would you do what Apple was doing?  You might want to . . . and that’s of course the trap.

You can’t market like the company you want to be, you have to market like the company you are right now.


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  • March says:

    Didn’t really give much info on how someone could even potentially market a show like Disney. When people say they want to market a show like Disney, I would assume they mean by creating a strong brand that knows itself and its audience, and in return, audiences know what to expect. (Much like audiences know what to expect from a Cameron Mackintosh spectacle.) …Also, Disney on Broadway just so happens to outsource their marketing to an ad agency that you have been feuding with for several years, so it’s no wonder you’re against marketing Disney-style.

  • Matthew says:

    Ken – I liked the insight in this post. I know you do look at other companies and industries to learn from what they’re doing. How do you decide when you should act like the company you want to be and when you shouldn’t?

  • Frank says:

    “Your advertising should all be focused on getting through the next six months . . . not thinking about the next six years . . . or six decades.”

    I have been waiting for years to see you say something a kin to the above quote. However, I’m not sure you or anyone else in the Broadway community actually follows this sound advice when it comes to making use of ALL the assets available to you in our digital world.

    The majority of shows will close by the 6 month mark and yet producers still only market to the people living in the NYC area as if it is the only place where people value theater. In today’s globally connected society new shows should be marketing to the world as a whole and granting much more access to those who cannot get to a theater in NYC.

  • RICK says:

    I liked Franks comments above….on this:
    “Your advertising should all be focused on getting through the next six months . . . not thinking about the next six years . . . or six decades.”

    When it is time and…..”If you build it”…. the foundation and core of your Musical…, “They will come”…The rest will follow…Great Blog Ken!…Hello Disney? …Oh?… I’ll call back….in 5-6 years…Ha!..

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