Friday, July 14, 2006

Selling a Show

I forgot Sister Act on my list of possible 2006-2007 musicals. That’s right, I forgot something campy. I know, I’m surprised too, but, it happens. Additionally, I spaced by not putting Journey’s End on the revival play list. Oh, and also, Spring Awakening looks like it is happening on Broadway, thus adding another entry on the new tuner list (yay!).

This is not another post about 2006-2007 however, this is an entry about marketing. You know I often get calls from people talking about a given ad and how it appealed to them or failed to appeal to them. Advertising and marketing is so important to the survival of a show—those teams faltered on All Shook Up and that went from a seemingly easy sell to an impossible one in a matter of months.

Originally when I heard that Kiki and Herb’s Broadway engagement was announced by Fire Island flyering over July 4 weekend, I scoffed. What were they thinking? Then I realized it was actually sort of brilliant. Let the people who are going to support the show feel like they are being given an inside track. Why not? There is no big Friday Times column item to lose anymore—no press coverage is lost by doing things this way. And meanwhile you have tons of people who feel like they’ve discovered something, something they (possibly drunkenly) decide they are excited about.

Then there is the new Legends! video ad, which I love. Click here to see it:
Could it be even more brilliant? Of course, but it knows what it is selling. The product on the table is not the show Legends! (no offense to the theater queens who love spouting details of the show’s notorious original tour), it is two over-the-top television stars bitch slapping each other. This ad perfectly portrays that.

On the flip side, I have to talk about Burleigh Grime$. I’m not saying any advertising campaign, no matter how genius, could have saved this production, I’m just saying poor Wendie Malick. The audio ad for the show began: “Hi, this is Wendie Malick. That's right, Nina Van Horn from Just Shoot Me. Have you missed me? Well, I'm back and onstage in this sizzling new comedy…” Seriously, they designed their marketing campaign around people’s nostalgic feelings for Wendie Malick. Now I like Wendie Malick, I just don’t think anyone was aware she was missing. Wendie Malick was on Jake in Progress, which was on ABC as recently as earlier this year, meaning she wouldn’t exactly have turned up as part of an “Alive or Dead” web report (despite how few people ever saw Jake in Progress). Sadly the commercial just got worse after that bizarre start. Later on Ms. Malick actually delivered the line: “Enter the scotch-drinking, table-dancing backstabbing world of stocks and bonds” with tremendous gusto. Umm…. Does that sound good to anyone? Anyone? Five stock brokers out there? Hello?!

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