Category Archives: theater

Ballet plus sex. What, are you listening now?


While you probably love the big-screen TV in your basement, local theater companies are hoping for a blackout. Performing arts are being hammered by the perfection of home entertainment plus sucky economy.

Smuin Ballet in San Francisco is fighting back with a series of Bay-area ads by the Evolution Bureau agency. The creative combines ballet with something else — a dose of sex, Broadway, electric guitar. Ballet isn’t stuffy, you see — it’s buff men and sultry women in revealing clothes.

Hm. When people don’t get your product, it’s not bad to connect it to something they surely want. Via Angela Natividad.

Über-cocooning: Home alone without the media


Guess it’s hard to cuddle with Broadway tickets.

The down economy is causing consumers to retrench inside their homes, a recessionary behavior that Faith Popcorn has termed über-cocooning. Cost-cutters are turning to new digital alternatives for entertainment, and dissing HBO, cable add-ons, newspaper subscriptions or outside events. Live theaters are filing for bankruptcy, Mel Brooks has bombed on Broadway, and online alternatives such as Hulu.com are surging ahead. Hulu, which only launched in March, has racheted up to 142 million streams per month, just behind the numbers Comcast pulls for video on demand through cable boxes. And cocooning ain’t helping newspapers, either — this week the owner of the Chicago Tribune and LA Times filed for bankruptcy.

Heck, even Playboy subscriptions are down.

Jupiter Research gave DM News a most telling point: At the beginning of 2008 only 24% of online consumers watched feature-length video content on a computer; in 12 months that number has doubled to 50%. It’s so comfy on the couch or in the home office. For anyone who profits by getting consumers to venture outside, it’s time to sharpen your offer.

Photo via i1326.

4 marketing lessons from death on stage


Live theater is dying. The sweet blue-haired ladies who once filled theater seats are moving on to the big stage in the sky, and as younger generations fill basements with big-screen TVs, the arts community is reeling. Pay attention, because shifts in demos and consumption are rocking industries from automotive to zoo attendance, and you too will need to respond.

Eric Smith, marketing director at Westport Country Playhouse, has launched a new blog that pinpoints the challenges of the entertainment industry as audiences shift and change.

“For many theatres the answer seems to fall on ‘we need to bring in younger audiences’, writes Eric. “… but here is the thing: younger audiences are merely a demographic that we have identified who are currently not attending theatre in large numbers. It would be like saying, ‘there are a billion people in China who don’t come to our theatre, how do we get them here?’ “

Eric suggests a deeper look at the marketing process is required, beyond just shifting the demo target. To build upon his post,

1. Reframe the goal.
First, your business target has to reflect the new reality. Has the recession or oil prices changed your customers’ behavior? Does your basic business goal reflect what new level of success is required? How would GM do next year if it maintained a goal to sell X number of trucks as the metric of success?

Theater marketers can do this by refocusing from subscription sales, the past ideal goal, to “multi-ticket buyers” — a nod that consumer behavior has changed, and that people now need more flexibility.

2. Map common pathways to sales.
This means analysis: reviewing customer account histories, looking for patterns among the best customers, and then defining the touchpoints and needs that can increase such behavior among future prospects.

3. Target diversity, not demos. It’s not enough to shift advertising to working female professionals age 35-44. Advertising media plans can target multiple audiences, say, professionals who commute, stay-at-home moms, long-time loyalists, and new movers into the market.

4. Test, refine, redeploy. Advertising plans almost always have unexpected results. Tracking performance by media channel is critical (say, the cost per inquiry from Newspaper A vs. Insert B). As lower-cost lead generators emerge, shifting funds can yield 30% to 40% more customers from the same advertising budget.

Footnote: Eric is a client of Mediassociates. We usually avoid promoting our clients on this news blog, but the thought process he presents is worth watching.