Fun on a Friday: Everyone has a marketing idea.

In every marketing meeting I’ve been to, there’s always one idea from someone around the table that makes everyone else look at each other and mouth, “WTF?”

Now, I actually think you need those ideas (and sometimes they are mine!) . . . because it’s important to get crazy every once in a while.  Sometimes those wack-a-do ideas just need to be refined.

In the marketing meeting below, Paul Rudd gets his chance to pitch a few of his marketing ideas to movie and theater mogul, Harvey Weinstein.

If you’ve ever sat in on any advertising meeting for anything, this Fun on a Friday is for you . . . (email subscribers, click here if you can’t see the video below).  Thanks to reader Adam for sending it along!



(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



– 62 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Enter to win 2 tickets to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown!  Click here.

10 Shows that stand out at this year’s Fringe Festival.



Have you noticed your inbox filled with more Kickstarter requests lately?  Have you seen more postcards on radiators at rehearsal studios in town?  Has your Facebook been blowing up with event invitations that begin with the words, “I’m in a show!”

All of this could mean only one thing . . . It’s time to raise the curtain on the NYC Fringe Festival!

Starting this Friday and continuing for just over 2 weeks, 194 shows will open and close as a part of this awesome theatrical binge.  It’s impossible to see them all, so how do you decide which ones to see?

Here’s how I do it.

Every year, in a very environmentally-unfriendly style, I print out (!) the entire program and leaf through it like an Ikea catalog . . . circling the shows that stand out based on a number of factors.  To give you an idea of what is attractive to a Producer like me, I list the 10 Shows here, in no particular order.  Remember, this list isn’t any kind of guarantee that anything is going to be great or not . . . it’s just a list of what stood out when I went catalog shopping (translation – this is a marketing exercise).

Ready?  Here goes!

1.  Yeast Nation

Quick.  Name me the most successful show to come out of The Fringe.  If you said anything but Urinetown, you lose.  Well, the authors of U-town (Mark Hollmann & Greg Kotis) are back with Yeast Nation, a show that got some buzz when it was in Chi-town in ’09.  They’ve risen to the top of the Fringe before, let’s see if Yeast can rise as well.

2.  Jersey Shoresical:  A Frickin’ Rock Opera

Is it a musical?  Or a tanning-lotion flavored popsicle?  Either way, the title made me laugh.  Odds are that this one isn’t going to be playing The Palace next season, but the creators of this show knew that using something that’s a pop culture phenom as their source material is a certain way to get attention.

3.  Virtual Solitare

In the Fringe catalog, each show gets about 40 words describe their show.  Virtual Solitaire used only 6. The rest of the description listed its three BEST PLAY awards, and 4 quotes including “Dazzling,” “Jaw-droppingly good,” and more.  It’s obviously been a popular show.  And we all know, the popular girl gets asked to the Fringe first.

4.  Cow Play

What grabbed my attention about Cow Play?  They placed an ad.  Now, lots of shows placed ads in the program to help enhance that 40 word listing.  But Cow Play was the one of the very few that took a full page ad.  And because it was the only one, the ad was like a road block, making me stop in my show.jpgckin’ tracks and soak up its message.

5.  The Legend of Julie Taymor

Like Jersey Shoresical, the Author of Legend ripped its plot from right from the headlines.  Obviously this is a subject that theater folk like me are super interested in, so I couldn’t help but want to dig deeper to learn what this show was all about.  Knowing your audience and serving up something you know will pique their interest is a guaranteed way to some ticket sales.

6.  Facebook Me

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be a teenager growing up on Facebook?  Facebook Me is exactly that . . . it’s a play that about growing up online . . . except it wasn’t written by a 30-year-old, or even a 25-year-old looking back.  This play was written and stars teenage girls describing exactly what your online “status” really means.  I’ve always been a fan of documentary theater, so this one jumped up at me like a Facebook message from my mom.

7.  Hard Travelin’ with Woody

There have been a few attempts at a Woody Guthrie musical.  But no one has gotten it quite right . . . yet.  But somebody should, because the material is too good not to be a great musical.  There’s potential here, and maybe Hard Travelin’ is the show to seize it.

8.  Happy Worst Day Ever

Theater for young audiences is on the rise.  It’s a much better babysitter than a television set, and it helps develop the audiences of tomorrow.  But that’s not what got me about Worst Day.  This show about 6th graders is presented by the Tony Award winning Cincinatti Playhouse in the Park.  Put a brand like that behind a Fringe show, and I don’t care if it’s for young audiences or for fruit flies, I am interested in seeing what’s up.

9.  Destinations

Honestly, I skipped over this one at first because I thought the title was a little bland, but when I went back and read the descript., I was intrigued.  It’s a about a band, on their 1985 reunion tour and all the drama that comes with it.  It’s a musical with a musical story.  It’s much easier for me to believe that this could work . . . and besides, doesn’t everyone want to know what life is like as a rock star?

10.  No-fault:  A tale about the Big D in the Big Apple

We’ve had I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and even Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage.  It’s about time someone tackled the other side of the coin: divorce (that’s the big “D” in the title).  There are a lot of folks out there that have been through the D word, and I’m sure they’d love to laugh about it.  Someone is going to create a killer show about this used to be taboo topic.  Like Menopause, I expect Divorce to come into its theatrical own soon enough.

Honorable Mentions:

Winner Take All (A Rock Opera)Theater of the Arcade, As The Boat Approaches and Elysian Fields.

What shows stand out to you at the Fringe this year?  What are you going to see?


_ _

Looking to learn how to get your show to stand out?  Here are two quick tips:

1 – Read Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow, my bible to product development and marketing.

2 – Take my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar, which I guarantee will give you a bunch of great takeaways on how to get your show to stand out at the Fringe, NYMF, and on Broadway!  Take the seminar today.

I’d do anything to skip a line. Wouldn’t you?

I travel a lot, and thanks to the international success of My First Time, and my love of London, I find myself crossing a lot of borders.  And as many of you know, I’m sure, there is nothing worse than getting off an 8+ hour flight home to find a huge line at customs and immigration when you’re oh so close to your own apartment and own bed.

Last time I re-entered the US through Newark, I noticed this guy walk right up to an ATM-like machine, slap his passport down, put his fingers on a scanner, and then scoot right past the long line and into the arms of his awaiting family.

It’s called Global Entry.

I felt like I was 10 years old again and saw my best friend playing with Pac Man on his new Atari.  All I could think was, “I want that.”

A chance to skip a line?  A chance to get through a process faster?   Sign me up.   No matter what the cost.

So I did. I paid $100 bucks, went through a background check and an interview at JFK by Customs and Border Patrol Officer Poluzzo (nice guy – I promised to get him tickets to any show except Book of Mormon).  And now I can speed through customs like a greased Pac-Man.

The US border isn’t the only place I’ll pay to skip a line.  I go to Six Flags with my entire staff, the casts of my shows, etc., every year on my birthday as our office retreat, and you can bet your Blinky I’m the first in line for a Flash Pass.

And this got me thinking.

First of all . . . how come we can go through customs and immigration with an ATM but we still can’t buy tickets with one?  Grrrrr.  But that’s not what this blog is about . . .

More on topic is . . .

What else can we offer to our customers to make their ticket buying or show going experience easier that they might want to pay for?   Or what extra value can we give to full price buyers to speed up their process, thereby encouraging more people to rely less on discounts?

Do full price buyers get seated in the theater first?  In larger venues, can certain sections of the house have their own restrooms?  What about separate windows at box offices for those people paying for premium tickets?  Valet parking for subscribers?

One of the challenges we face in the age of on-demand entertainment everywhere is that in order to enjoy going to the theater . . . you actually have to go to the theater.  And sometimes, like customs and immigration, that can be a necessary but no-fun part of the process.

It’s our job to find ways to make that process easier, especially for our frequent “travelers.”

And if we discover what bugs these folks most, I bet we’ll also find that some would even pay for a better, faster experience.

Side note:  Surprise, surprise, but Customs and Border Patrol happen to be a great bunch of marketers. The first question Officer Poluzzo asked me when I sat down for my interview wasn’t, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” That was his second question.  His first was . . .

“How did you hear about Global Entry?”


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



– 71 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Enter to win 2 tickets to All New People by Zach Braff Off-Broadway!  Click here.


Have you heard about Broadway-Con?

You haven’t heard about Broadway-Con?  It’s a convention like the unbelievably popular Comic-Con.

You know about Comic-Con, right?  Comic-Con the unbelievably popular convention that unites fans of comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, and related types of movies and television from all over the world.  The big one was held in San Diego last week and drew over one hundred thousand folks, many of whom dressed up to show their pride.  Fun, games . . . and lots of marketing.

So now have you heard about Broadway-Con?

You haven’t?

Well, I’m not surprised.  Because it doesn’t exist.

But maybe it should?

Sure, we’ve got Broadway on Broadway and the BC/EFA street fair in September, but what about an good, ol’ fashion convention all about Broadway, Off-Broadway and theater all over the country . . . but for the fans.

We could take a weekend in the spring, when all the new shows are begging for attention and ticket sales, and have performances, autograph signings from current, past (and future) stars, memorabilia displays, movies, workshops, contests . . . in other words, fun, games and lots of marketing.

I’d go.  Would you?

Are there enough fans out to make Broadway-Con successful?

I think so. And if there aren’t, we’ve got a much bigger problem.

UPDATE FROM KEN 3/7/15:  Three years after I posted this blog, an actual BroadwayCon was announced!!!  And it was all because of this blog!  😉  Ok, ok, maybe not, but still, it’s happening and you should check it out.  Click here to read more.



(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



– 78 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Win 2 tickets to Hair on Broadway, and tell us what you think about nudity in theater. Click here!

Entertainment about Entertainment can be financially entertaining.

How many of you have seen a Pixar film?  You know, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Cars, Up, and so on.

A lot, right?

I’ve seen just a couple.  I’m no die-hard, but I can get dragged to one and have a good time, even if my date isn’t 10.

I am a big documentary fan, however (especially since I made one), and the other night, at 2 AM, I found myself cruising through what docs were available to “Watch Instantly” on Netflix.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there was one on the making of Pixar.  Since I’ve got a passion for how entertainment superpowers are born, made and maintained, I decided to watch.

It was damn entertaining.

And when it was over at 3:30 AM, you know what I did?  I started looking for Pixar films to watch instantly.  I wanted to devour them all like a box of jujubes.

I went to bed at 5:27, dreaming of talking cars and cowboy dolls.

If you’ve got a product that already has market interest, another way to boost that interest is to create supporting products that might appeal to either a new demographic, or more importantly, your core demo.  That group is desperate to consume as much information as they can about who you are, what you do, and where you come from.

So once you have a show that has some traction, take some time to supplement that traction with a history book, a mini doc, or something else that might make money on its own . . . and that supports your primary product.

This idea can be especially rewarding for non-profit institutions.  You should have a book on the founding of your theater, what shows you’ve done, photos, etc.  And before you tell me it’s too expensive, I’m not talking a mass-market paperback.  Try self-publishing with a site like Lulu.  And if you want a doc, try a new filmmaker.  They are tons of them hanging out at Starbucks all over the country.

The cool thing about this concept is that it has the potential to hit the marketing trifecta:

  1. Make money on its own.
  2. Increase interest in your core product.
  3. Identify your most passionate customers.

It’s that third one that is for the advanced marketers out there.  Most of us would jump up and down if we sold a book or a doc about our show or theater, right?  Well, the smarties out there wouldn’t jump up and down just yet . . . they’d find out exactly who that person was that bought it, and they’d make sure they used all of their savvy to turn that person into an even bigger ticket buyer — or better . . . a bigger donor.

Gotta run.  I’m going to see Cars 2 today.

Which I never would have seen if it wasn’t for that damn doc.


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



– Seminars in Chicago, the weekend of July 9th.  Click here!

– Win 2 tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana. Click here!