Harry Potter and The Elusive Sponsor.

Getting a sponsor for a Broadway show seems like the stuff of fantasy. At every early ad meeting for a show that I’ve worked on, someone usually pipes up that we should find a sponsor to pay for some major expense, and trade away their name in our media, tickets, etc.

It’s always a great idea, and everyone around the table usually nods their head, yes.  Because in theory it makes perfect sense. Broadway shows are a highly visible, high-class product, and other big brands would definitely benefit from associating their wares with ours.

So why is it so rare?

Why, to give you a specific example, did not one of the 15 Marketing Directors for big brands fail to even return my call when I reached out to them with a very unique Broadway branding opportunity?

Here are a few of the excuses I’ve heard over the years from potential sponsors:

  • “It’s hard to associate ourselves with a product, before seeing the product.”
    • Brands don’t like to put their money or their name on something until it has already been introduced to the public.  It makes sense. If a show isn’t well received, does that feeling transfer to the brand? Besides, if a show gets out of the gate and is a hit, we usually don’t need the sponsor.
  • “There are not enough eyeballs.”
    • Even the most sold-out musicals can’t put more than 16,000 bodies (or 32,000 eyeballs) in the seats every week.  A lot of the live event sponsors like to sponsor one-time events that have 20,000 people plus in one night (think concerts, sporting events, etc.) PLUS millions on television.  Thems a lot of eyeballs!
  • “You may close tomorrow.  Then what?”
    • Since we can’t guarantee the length of the run, it’s hard for them to quantify the exposure of their brand.  And at the big brand level, it’s all about dollars and guaranteed impressions.
  • “I can’t advertise in the theater.”
    • Current contractual relationships between most theaters and Playbill, or their program provider, prevent the advertising of other commercial products inside the venue.  No signage, no manned or womanned display booths getting our customers to sign up for services, etc.
  • “It’ll take me too long to get this approved.”
    • Big businesses plan their quarters, their years, and sometimes their decades of underwriting in advance.  Often shows approach potential sponsors just a few months before opening, and at that point, discretionary underwriting funding is gone.

So what are we to do?  Is sponsorship an impossibility?

No.  Of course not.  We’ve got to come up with answers to these “my dog ate my homework” excuses, because there are work-arounds for everything . . . if we’re all willing to do the work.

– Want to know what the product is before you sponsor it?  Try a revival.  Or do you want to come to a reading?

– Not enough eyeballs?  The average Broadway musical probably spends $5 mill a year in paid media.  Get on some of that.  Or try a tour.  And we’ll start working on new media options for you.

– We may close tomorrow?  Put up less money if the risk is greater, but don’t stay on the sidelines.  Or find a show specialist that can tell you what shows have a potential of going down quick and which don’t (we all know, don’t we?).

– You can’t advertise in the theater?  The shows have more ways to reach our customers than ever before, so we can get to them (or start lobbying the theater owners).

– Too long to get approved?  We’ll start coming to you earlier.  We promise.

Everyone wonders why CBS continues to broadcast the Tony Awards every year despite disappointing ratings.  From what I hear, it’s because of the type of viewer that tunes in.  Tony Award watchers and theatergoers are highly educated and usually high-income individuals (Now it makes sense why Lexus, Cadillac, etc. advertise during the telecast, doesn’t it?).  And while there may not be a lot of them watching, they can afford big-ticket items.

Our audiences have significant value to corporations of all shapes and sizes.  We just have to do better at communicating our value, and finding more value for them.

Like Harry P himself, we’ve got to find a way to put them under our spell.

I’m going to cut this post short now, because I’ve got 15 corporations to follow-up with.

Play my Tony pool! Win an iPad!

Woo-woo!  Sharpen your electronic pencils and prepare to pick your winners . . . and maybe you’ll be a big winner yourself!

Tony Awards can equal big business for Producers, so being able to determine which shows will take home trophies is something all Producers should practice.

Now we can all practice with the 3rd Annual Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool!

If you’re new to the blog and didn’t play last year, here’s how it works: the person who picks the most winners wins!  As simple as an R&H melody!

What do you win?

Here are the prizes:

GRAND PRIZE:  An iPad!

FIRST PRIZE:  A Kindle

SECOND PRIZE:  A $50 Amazon Gift Certificate

This year, I’m also adding a special PERFECT SCORE Bonus of $100 CASH!  If anyone out there picks ALL of the winners, you’ll get a bonus 100 bucks.  (I’m dying to give that away so pick carefully!)

To play, click the link here and pick away!

 

The rules of the game and the restrictions are all on the ballot, but a few super important ones:

– Only one entry per reader.  Multiple entries will disqualify all of your entries.

– In order to verify entries, only email subscribers to the blog are eligible.  If you are not an email subscriber, use the box on the upper left of this page to subscribe now.

– Make sure you fill out ALL of the information on the “Verification Page” of your entry.  Incomplete entries (and there were a few last year) cannot be counted.

– When asked for your email on the “Verification Page”, make sure you enter the same email that you use to subscribe to the blog. 

Please read all of the rules carefully on the site before submitting your entry!  Don’t forget, you’re picking what you think WILL win, not what you want to win. 

The Tony Pool will officially close on Thursday, June 10th at 11:59 PM, so don’t delay, play today!

Good luck to all of you and the nominees!

CLICK HERE TO PLAY THE TONY POOL!

Honda, The BBC . . . and Broadway?

I love it when Broadway gets mentioned in the same sentence as Big Business.

So imagine how I felt when I heard that one of our own got nominated for an honor usually reserved for publicly-held giants like Apple and Nike and so on….

Last week, Situation Interactive, the agency that has literally written the code for most of Broadway’s internet marketing campaigns, was nominated for a Webby Award for “Best Use of Social Media” for their follower-magnet Next To Normal twitter campaign.

If you’ve never heard of the Webbies before, well, they are exactly what they sound like.  The NY Times has called them “the internet’s highest honor.”  And now we’ve got a Broadway show up for one.

A wise press rep once told me that you get a gold star if you can get your show a story that doesn’t appear on the theater pages.  If that’s true, then Situation deserves a gold galaxy for getting Broadway off the theater pages and onto the business pages.

Now sure, it’s always nice be nominated, Sally Field, but it’s much better to win, right?

I think it’d be awesome if Broadway crushed its competition in this category.  And the good news is that the winner of the award is chosen American Idol-style . . . by fan vote.

So let’s show Honda and Yearbook.com, that Broadway ain’t stuck in the dark ages no more!  We can tweet with the best of them.

Vote here (click on the “Best Use of Social Media” category).

Now, after N2N wins this . . . it’s time for them to share their recent good fortune with some of the other shows, don’t you think?  First it recoups.  Then it wins a Pulitzer.  And now an advertising award?  What’s next?  A $1,000,000 grant for spectacular use of Ricolas?

Congrats, guys.  Your tide just raised all the boats.

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