The ticketing war hits the skies.

http://www.theproducersperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/my_weblog/6a00e54ef2e21b88330147e174b04a970b.jpgI noticed a billboard on 7th Avenue the other day that I hadn’t seen before. I snapped a picture so you could see what it was advertising.

Yep, it’s pitching . . . Telecharge, the official ticketing agent of Broadway.

There was a time when Telecharge didn’t have to advertise.  Heck, there was a time when Telecharge didn’t have to give out seat locations.  But with brokers and websites hitting media hard with adwords, banners and even taxi tops (Have you seen that Broadway.com buy?), Telecharge super smartly decided use some of their service fees to fight impressions with impressions, in an attempt to educate the consumer that the fastest and cheapest way to buy is through the official source for tickets.  I’ve seen them spending money on adwords, but the outdoor angle looks relatively new to me.

And I like it.

Ticketing companies are like department stores.  They have a lot of different types of products of all different shapes and sizes.

And the money that is spent supporting the store helps to support all the products inside.

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The two big Os in marketing.

My two favorite forms of media to buy in today’s theatrical market are . . .

Online

and

Outdoor.

The problem with that second O, is that it’s expensiv-o in the heart of the city, where all those potential theatergoers swarm.  Seems a bit unfair that we have to pay the same price for those big billboards as Tide or Levi’s, which are available to the purchaser all over the world, as o-pposed to Broadway, which is available . . . well . . . only on Broadway.

That’s why I couldn’t help but wonder why more of us don’t try to make deals on available outdoor opportunities like the one in this picture.

What about approaching the real estate companies and asking for signage in unrented storefronts?  They’re sitting there, making no money for someone . . . why not give them some earning potential in the meantime?

Or what about mural billboards on available brick walls?

Or instead of leaving the signage of closed shows up on theater marquees, putting signage up for other shows in the same theater chain?

The best Producers I know don’t just buy whatever their agency or media company is selling.  The best Producers I know look for something that people haven’t thought of yet.

The best Producers I know look for the third “O” of marketing . . . new Opportunities.

Go where others haven’t gone before.  Consider yourself an explorer, like Magellan or Ponce de Leon.

Because when you do discover some New World of Media, or new anything for that matter, it’ll feel . . . well . . . (cough, cough) . . . O-tastic.

Can you tell what these people are looking at?

A car accident?  A celebrity?  The naked cowboy?

None of the above.

They are all looking at . . . themselves.

Forever 21 recently installed a brilliant video billboard in the heart of Times Square that takes a live video image of the street below, and then broadcasts it for everyone to see.

So what happens?

People walk by, and stop . . . and look for themselves on the big screen.  They wave, jump and down, and generally make fools of themselves, just to see themselves broadcast over Broadway.

I shot this pic on a Sunday evening, and what struck me as this gaggle of folks stared at the billboard (and as I stared at them) was the diversity of the people drawn to this phenomenon.  All different types were trying to find themselves on the screen, from kids to seniors, from Europeans to Oklahomians, from lower economic classes, to a bunch of brand-wearing snobs that looked like they just got off a yacht.

You’ve felt like these people, too . . . don’t tell me you haven’t.  Maybe you were at a Yankee game when the camera swung your way, or you walked by the NBC studios during a taping of The Today Show.

Audiences, no matter where they come from, or what they do for a living, have certain things in common.  They want to be noticed.  They want to be recognized.

And they want to be a part of the experience.

I’m not saying every show has to pull a person on the stage for the rest of the crowd to see . . . but the audience wants to see themselves up there somehow, whether in a character, in a story, or yes, getting pulled on the stage for the rest of the crowd to see.

They want a little attention . . . it’s just not apropos to wave your hands and jump up and down in a theater.

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Side note:

One year ago I blogged about the very first video billboard in Times Square.

And now there are seven.

Could destination advertising work?

I was at the airport in Burbank, CA a few weeks ago (which is the best kept secret in airline travel to LA, by the way), and on my walk towards baggage claim, I noticed a lot of advertisements for . . .  Las Vegas.

Burbank airport must get a lot of travelers to Sin City, I thought, to justify ad after ad for the hotels, shows and restaurants of this vacation destination.

Since 65% of the Broadway audience depends on tourists visiting New York, could Broadway shows be helped by identifying the key states that send us the most traffic (California, Texas, Illinois) and advertising locally? Could we attempt to get a customer closer to a purchase decision before they get to the city (and before they face a lot more of our competition’s ads)?  And because these locations are outside of NYC, wouldn’t the media actually cost us less?

Shows have been advertising in in-flight magazines for years, and at the NY airports as well.  But as the NY market gets more and more cluttered with shows competing for the short-term attention of the customer, perhaps it’s time to try and get to them earlier.

Whether taking ads in or near airports in other cities would work totally depends on the cost of the media in those locations.  Without a doubt, you’re not going to be visible to as many potential customers as a billboard in NY, so the ad is less valuable . . . but with the amount of inventory available all over the country, perhaps there are deals to be made.

Or perhaps this shouldn’t be a specific show-driven campaign . . . perhaps it should be a Broadway campaign, with the goal of making sure that every person that gets on a plane, train or automobile on their way to NY takes in a show or two or three, during their stay.

To ensure our survival, we have to make sure Broadway is at the top of our customers’ minds.  Getting to them before our competitors do gives us a head start.

 

Will Broadway ever have an album at the top of the pop charts again?

Last week, the cast album of Love Never Dies hit Number 10 on the UK National Charts.

Yep, a musical was right up there with Lady Gaga and Rihanna and Michael Buble (who I saw in concert last Saturday, and who is destined to croon on a Broadway stage at some point in his career – hopefully before his “buble” pops).

First the West End boosts their attendance by 7.6%, and now they put an album in the Top 10!

Over on this side of the pond, Broadway tunes, especially for new musicals with original music, never chart that high (the Hair revival recording got up to #63, but that was a revival.  I found one release that had Wicked at #187).  In fact, Billboard created a special chart for cast albums in 2006.  Why?  To quote Playbill.com, “The addition of the chart generates exposure for the genre which does not often chart on the Billboard 200.”

Sad face.

Now granted, the Love Never Dies recording has got to be one of the most anticipated cast recordings in decades, with a super phantastic brand, and a composer who might as well be Lady Gaga, he’s such a rock star to his fellow Brits.

But still, I couldn’t help but be a little jealous.

There was a time when Broadway tunes charted higher, or were covered by artists who could force them to the top of the charts.

Don’t believe me?

Take this 10 Question Quiz and test your knowledge of Broadway chart toppers (I got an 80%).

When you’re finished with the quiz, go back and look at the years of the hits in the questions.  Nothing past 1975.

We’ve lost our support from pop music.  It’s no wonder we’re losing audiences.

And it’s no wonder why the West End is gaining on us.

What can we do?  Lobby the music industry?  Ask our composers to write with the charts in mind?  Make one of our musical theater composers a rock star, too?

Let’s do it all and then some.

Because re-establishing Broadway’s place in the fabric of popular culture is one of the most powerful things we can do to grow our audience.

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