Stats Courtesy of Business Week

Network TV Ad Spending in 2006        16 billion
Network TV Ad Spending in 2007        15.5 billion

Internet Ad Spending in 2006              4.1 billion
Internet Ad Spending in 2007              5.2 billion


But watch out, with this kind of growth on the ‘net, we could be looking at a lot of clutter pretty soon (how many email discounts for Broadway shows do you get in your inbox every morning?).

The best Broadway Producers I’ve ever worked with are always exploiting the current trends and at the same time are also figuring out how to take advantage of the next uncluttered space.

Christmas Card Clutter – The Sequel

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  Days after I posted my grinch-like “Christmas Card Clutter” blog, I got one last holiday card.  And this one made my heart “grow three sizes”.

It was from Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing (in which he mentions one of our Altar Boyz e-marketing tactics).

I met Andy at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference back in October when I spoke on a “brands” panel.  And today I got his holiday card.  And, as you would expect, it was a masterfully remarkable card.

First of all, it wasn’t a holiday card.  It didn’t talk about Christmas.  Second, it came after Xmas.  Third, he put something in it.  And here’s where Andy is brilliant.

It was a luggage tag . . . and it already had my address in it.  How?  Well, Andy, took my business card when we met.  And like a magician asking for a handkerchief, he did something with that business card that I wasn’t expecting at all.  He laminated it and sent it to me weeks later.  So simple, yet personal, sticky and surprising.

Did it work?  You bet.  It got him this blog post to say the least.

Surprise your customers.  Surprise your audience members, your business partners, your boyfriends, your wanna-be business partners, your mom, etc.  You’ll put a smile on their face.

And smiles are the stickiest advertising of all.


You Know You’re A Brand When . . .

. . . Parking Lot Attendants do your marketing for you.

Look at this piece of "outdoor advertising" I found at a lot on 49th St.


If I was Larry Page or Sergey Brin (the lucky-brilliant-ducks that came up with Google), I would take the above as a sign (pun intended) that I had satisfied my mission statement.

Christmas Card Clutter

Mailboxes are worse than the entertainment pages of the New York Times this time of year.

With all of the Christmas cards that everyone receives, how do you compete for the receiver’s attention?

Is your card really going to make an impression?  And in today’s green-times, is it really worth a slice of a Sequoia to send a card in such a cluttered environment?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the time people take to remember me, but sending Christmas cards is like taking out an ABC in the New York Times.  People just keep doing it without realizing it isn’t as effective as it may have been.

OK, I’ll try and take my Scrooge hat off now and be a bit more constructive.  Let’s say you feel compelled to send cards to your clients, friends or family.  Here are a few quick ideas on how to get your cards through the CCC (Christmas Card Clutter):


1.  Be First

Make sure your card arrives before everyone else’s.  The day after Thanksgiving.  Or, if you really want to make an impression?  Send it in July.

2.  Be Last

Embrace your procrastination and use it to your advantage.  Send your card right after people are clearing off their mantles so it arrives in their mailbox in January, at the same time as their December credit card bills.

3.  Make It Personal

Speaks for itself.  Photos, letters (yes, even form letters), etc.  Cards usually wrap up a year, so take a moment to remind the recipient about a very positive experience you shared at some point during the year. 

4.  Make It Your Own With a Custom Design

Send fewer letters and make a bigger impression for the same money with a custom design that says what is unique about your company.  If you’re a vendor, send a card that has your company’s name or logo on the FRONT of the card.  Think about how cards are displayed on desks or mantles.  It’s never with the signature on the outside.  With the right design, Christmas cards can be mini-billboards.

Can’t afford a designer and don’t know how to work Photoshop?  Do it old school and make your cards like a 2nd grader.  They’ll stand out big time.

5.  Put Something In The Card

Include a coupon.  10% off the client’s first service in the New Year.  A coupon for a free hug.  Whatever.  But something that adds value to the card (and can be tracked).

6.  Don’t Send a Card

Send something else.  Again, spend a little more money on less people and make it count.  And make it something that doesn’t get tossed out after the New Year, but that will sit on a desk, constantly reminding that person of you.

Or send a one dollar bill in a plain white envelope and with a post-it note attached that says, “We have trouble picking out cards for our diverse client list.  Here’s a dollar.  Feel free to buy a card that suits you best.  Or buy a hot dog.”

I realize that people are shaking their head at me right now because I’m breaking down a time-honored tradition of spreading joy into a marketing strategy.  Shake away, but here’s the thing: everything we do in life is a form of marketing.  If you get a new hair cut or buy a new suit, you’re redesigning your brand’s image.  If you send text messages or mass emails to friends, you’re engaging in direct response.  Christmas cards are just another form of marketing in our own lives.

And my point is that if you’re going to do it (like any form of advertising), do it effectively. 

Personally, I’d rather my vendors and casual acquaintances save the paper and the postage and make a $1 donation to a favorite charity.

Do you have any ideas on how to break through the CCC?  Or have you received any great CCs that got your attention?  Email me and I’ll post the best.


Be Careful! Your Competition Is In The Same Room!

There are 3 advertising agencies that handle the bulk of Broadway business. 


In the 2005-2006, Broadway season, there were 39 new productions on Broadway.  There were also 32 continuing productions from the previous season.

71 shows.  Handled by 3 agencies.

Divided equally (which they are not), means that each agency handled an average of 23.67 shows.  In reality, 2 of those agencies handled the majority of the shows.

To demonstrate a huge practical problem associated with these numbers, let’s look at the four nominees for Best Musical in 2007:  CurtainsGrey Gardens, Mary Poppins and Spring Awakening.

All FOUR of these musicals were represented by the same advertising agency.

That means that Tony campaigns, sales figures, etc. were all discussed, strategized and planned in the same house. 

So when you’re doing your next show, you should understand that your meetings will probably be held in the same conference room as your direct competition.

Can you imagine if Microsoft and Apple were handled by the same advertising agency?  And shared a conference room?  Or Coke and Pepsi?  Or even small hometown grocery stores?   

It’s not even smart business to consider these facts before making your choice of your agency, it’s just common sense.  I’m not insinuating that anything unethical is happening at any of these agencies, but with millions and millions of dollars on the line, why would you take the chance of all that information under one roof?  Even the most ethical and honest employee would have to be subconsciously influenced with the knowledge of what one show’s competitors are doing, wouldn’t you think?

In other industries, companies refuse to allow their advertising agencies to rep competitors.  Duh. 

I know what people will say: “Ken, the reason there is so much overlapping is because there isn’t enough consistent work to go around to keep these agencies running.”

I disagree.  23.67 shows is a lot of commission.  And besides, I’ve seen the sizes of each of their offices. And conversely, I’ve seen the sizes of all of the Producers’ offices in this city.  The agencies don’t need to take on this much work.

But this isn’t their fault.  They are just growing their business.  We’re the ones ignoring the reality and allowing these practices to continue.   

The other argument is that there aren’t enough qualified advertising agencies in business.  This may be true. 

Anyone out there want to hang a shingle?

Or better, maybe producers should start doing advertising in-house.