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Tag Archive | "Marketing"

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Blog: Fighting the fight – From Here To Eternity

Posted on 09 April 2014 by Julia Wagner

From Here To Eternity has closed and my heart is still aching. It was a show with great potential, a fantastic new musical with diverse and amazing music by Stuart Brayson, imaginative choreography (Javier de Frutos), a good book and lyrics (Bill Oakes and Tim Rice) and performers who could really act (leading man Robert Lonsdale was superb). The only problem with the show – as I see it – is that it doesn’t know who it is aiming at. No, let me rephrase that. That is not the problem of the show as such, but rather of the marketing.

Why does everyone think that the only way to sell anything is sex? Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t want to think that. The first posters of From Here To Eternity don’t tell you anything. It was basically two couples embracing each other. Some time early in the new year, they changed their strategy to “sex sells”. The posters now depict soldiers showing their defined and oily naked bodies,  and some women in lingerie.

I was talking about who the target audience was with friends and our opinions differ. Some said they should have started with this campaign, some don’t know what to think, knowing what the show is really like. When you have seen this musical you know that these posters do not do it justice, you can’t relate to them. Well, I couldn’t.

If you’re a fan of the 1953 film you’ll remember the famous beach scene starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. The musical doesn’t go there despite what the posters are telling us. Well, yes, there is a beach scene and some nudity providing a “shock moment” for the audience – it works because it’s theatre and it’s best left for the imagination of the audience, but it’s not what some might expect after being seduced by the nakedness of the “poster boys”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against those soldiers looking fit, but as an advertisement for musical theatre?

From Here To Eternity isn’t a story about sex. It is a story of a man struggling with life. It is a story that speaks to you. You can relate on different levels and I like that it focuses on this man’s life. But I also like that there are stories on the side that – in a way – contribute to him addressing life issues. There is the question of life’s purpose, and there are also the issues of religion, rebellion, dignity, homosexuality, the definition of “respectability” and, of course, the army, solidarity and humanity.

Could it be that musicals that focus primarily on a single man’s fate instead of a woman’s struggle are less popular because women, who make up the majority of the audience, have difficulty empathising with a man’s perspective on life? Are they less willing or able to identity with a man on stage? I don’t know the answer, but it got me wondering…

All I can say for sure is that From Here To Eternity was a breath of fresh air in the West End that left me deeply touched. It is not perfect, but it talks about and shows life. It is truthful and gets to you and I hope that it will have a life after its West End run.

And for the issue of marketing it, the difficulty is obvious. You cannot communicate the richness of this musical via a single poster, but you could at least try by being somewhat creative. Maybe go for its uniqueness, it being different, it bringing new music to the genre… And, if it goes to Broadway at least this issue shouldn’t be a problem: patriotism is a sure bet.

 

Julia Wagner

Julia Wagner

Born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Julia studied Journalism and Theatre Studies. She is currently living in London doing her Master’s Degree at Goldsmiths and tries to get as much out of the experience of living in this city as possible.

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En route to Edinburgh – When did we stop talking?

Posted on 11 July 2013 by Katie Pesskin

35mmre

Followers have become my own personal Everest. I am utterly determined to attain them for one of the shows I’m working on at the Fringe this year. Actually, not just for one show, but for me… and for my production company…I’m happy to admit that I’m obsessed. Hello, I’m Katie and I’m a follower-a-holic.

Of course, I am referring to virtual followers, not actual, real life stalkers. Because who needs the real world now when we have an all-encompassing virtual one… Yesterday I witnessed (being ‘tagged’ in it meant I was obliged to witness) a rather lengthy and public tweet conversation between my cast members. With the knowledge that they will all see each other within days, it seemed odd to me that they would choose to converse in this fashion. And I wondered, with even the phone call seeming to be an increasingly rare occurrence, when did we stop talking?

Low budget shows (the vast majority of those at the Fringe) are becoming more and more reliant on social media as a marketing device. It’s accessible. It’s immediate. And, most importantly, it’s free. The quest for followers is endless, as are the lists of tips for success offered by anyone and everyone. The more followers you’ve got, the more people get the message. But I question whether this is the case. How many times have you spontaneously decided, off the back of reading a tweet, to buy a ticket? The Twitter-sphere is so over-saturated that most people’s immediate reaction to a tweet that’s trying to flog a ticket is to ignore it. We want photos, videos, witty hashtags… not another reminder that somebody is Edinburgh bound and “here’s the ticket link”.

So if we can’t rely on social media, what do we do? Offering something extra with a ticket to your show can help. Often something that creates a suitable ambience for the show can work well – a few years ago I, as it was in-keeping with the play, gave out tea and a biscuit to audience members. And this year comedian Richard Herring is really going the extra mile and giving out a free DVD to everyone who watches his show. But all of this costs money and with producing at the Fringe becoming increasingly expensive, there can’t always be room in the budget for these additions.

Despite the competition for followers that I have started with myself, the key to getting an audience is not in social media. It can help, yes. But it will not unlock the door to success. In fact, the most useful free marketing that exists is good old word of mouth. If you see a show you love, you’ll tell your friends and they’ll see it too. So stop tweeting about it. Put your efforts into making a brilliant show and get people talking again.

P.S. If you do want to follow me, I’m @KatiePesskin.

Katie Pesskin

Katie Pesskin

Katie is Director of As Told By... which is producing '35MM: A Musical Exhibition' at Bedlam Theatre throughout this year's Edinburgh Fringe in association with Greenwich Theatre. Katie also programmes the Lounge at Leicester Square Theatre and works on the team for NewsRevue at the Pleasance. @KatiePesskin @AsToldByTheatre

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Guest blog: Love Bites – Honing your brand as a start-up theatre company

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Katy Davies

Love bites

Katy Davies works in media and PR for The Love Bites Plays. Here she gives some thoughts on how the company approaches their brand identity.

Setting your company apart as ‘different’ or ‘new’ in what is essentially an extremely competitive market can be challenging. Like us, if you’re not a West End show, chances are you won’t have a huge number of tickets to give away for press nights with the promise of outlets promoting your brand on various websites and newsletters. You may just be looking to break even! So, first and foremost, you have to think about your audience – the people going to pay to see your show. I’m talking about getting them through the door, and not by producing crowd-pleasing, safe theatre. They have to invest something in you before they buy a ticket: a belief in what you are trying to achieve. It’s generally not enough to be ‘different’ – everyone has something new. It is only by making an effort to engage in communication and to provoke an emotional response that you get a sense of how people relate to your brand. Some of this you can influence, some of this you cannot.

The media is a key audience for your brand. We place huge importance on grass roots support – depending on which venue we’re in we approach local bloggers, people who may or may not be theatre reviewers, and get them to come down to see the show and then hear what they think. Read as much as you can of trade and consumer press – get to know journalists, what they like, what they don’t; be familiar with regular features in publications and know what channels could place your brand. Do your research – invite other theatre companies to your show, get them to cross-promote on social media and blog about shows you have seen. Sign up to newsletters and mailing lists of theatre companies you admire and see what works well for them.

These ideas are nothing new. If you are having trouble honing your brand, ask yourself these questions: when did you start out? What was your original intention? How has the external environment changed? If you started as a student company five years ago, maybe it’s time for a brand refresh. Have a look at what else is out there to see what’s working well, and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly. What are people saying about you – or what aren’t they?

The Love Bites Plays brand is something we’ve tried to integrate across marketing communications since we came into being five years ago. The name of the company came directly from the format of each show – short, bite-sized plays about love, enacted over an evening. So immediately we wanted our brand to reflect the collaborative nature of what we do. We commission new artwork for each event. We use different illustrators to give a fresh response to the show. We want the brand to reflect the uniqueness of the diversity that each show has to offer. We get buy-in from our collaborators (past, present and future): playwrights, actors, illustrators – you have to start building relationships internally before you can even think about presenting your brand to external audiences. If your collaborators aren’t kept in the loop, feel valued and part of something, you’re going to have a tough time convincing people who’ve never heard of you to come and see your show. Slowly but surely, you will build up a loyal base.

Social media offers instantaneous, free feedback about what you’re doing. If you’re not getting hits on your blog, either you’re not marketing it effectively or people don’t find it interesting enough. Perhaps it is too corporate or doesn’t get under the skin of what people want to hear. It’s important to talk with your audience and not at them.

Try stuff out – if it works, great. If it doesn’t, try something new.

The next Love Bites Plays show, The Apartment, is at Etcetera Theatre 9 – 11 May.

Image: Joly Braime

Katy Davies

Katy Davies

Katy works in communications for a national charity by day and spends her spare time managing PR for Love Bites. She is a member of the CIPR. Follow Katy on twitter @_K_T___ / @lovebitesplays or visit www.thelovebitesplays.com

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TheatreCraft: Marketing workshop

Posted on 30 November 2012 by Abigail Adeoti

The first workshop I attended today was a session on Marketing in the Royal Opera House’s beautiful Ondine & Petrushka Trust Room. The session was extremely interesting, but with lots of workshops and exhibitors to visit, I sadly didn’t get to stay for too long!

The main topic of conversation in the workshop was on audience segmentation. It was interesting to discover how large organisations market their events/content to people who will be most interested.

I discovered that mass marketing is not the way forward. Though it may seem like the easiest option, it is often expensive and time-consuming, it ends up not being the most effective way to advertise. It is better to target to segmented audience types.

Workshop attendees were given the opportunity to discuss how they think that the Royal Opera House and Target Live advertise to different audiences. Almost everyone in the room suggested targeting different audiences by their age group would be the best way to get people to attend a show. Surprisingly, this is not how shows are advertised as not every one of the same age group will like the same things!

Amongst many other things, I discovered that though marketing can be expensive it is still a great industry, essential to the success of the theatre industry as a whole.

This was a great session, in which I learnt a lot in such a short period of time – it was almost like a taster to working in marketing!

Abigail Adeoti

Abigail Adeoti

Abigail is part of the A Younger Theatre live blogging team for TheatreCraft 2012.

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