In college, I interned with the American Red Cross and was a certified Disaster Relief Specialist. The work they do is unparalleled, and I don't know of any better relief organization to help those in need. Please do whatever you can to support their work.
I'm going to take a minute and try to use whatever influence I may have with you folks (I can dream, can't I?) and tell you that you really should get yourselves down to see Oedipus at Palm Springs at New York Theatre Workshop. Now I had heard all about the full frontal lesbian nudity, which is SO not anything I'd ever be interested in in a million years. And I had seen the Five Lesbian Brothers' last show at New York Theatre Workshop 6 or 7 years back and didn't really love it or connect with it in any way. But this show is different. So it was with less than great expectations that I found myself in the theater tonight, prepared to not be engaged by a play about lesbians. Boy was I wrong. Absolutely loved it and can't wait to go back and see it again! It's not one hundred percent perfect and I have a few minor little quibbles here and there, but overall it is extremely powerful. And funny. And smart. And it's one act with no intermission (the best kind of theater there is!). So please do yourself a favor and go see it. There is talk of a commercial transfer, which I suspect would be quite a challenge given the subject matter. But do go see it. Really. And don't be surprised if you see me there again, too. Did I mention that it was powerful? And funny? GO!
P.S. Oh yeah, forgot to mention...New York Theatre Workshop is a client of mine. But if I didn't love the show, I would not be telling you that you have to go see it.
Here's something new and helpful - MarketingLinx.com. Readers of the site submit their favorite marketing links for others to read and then vote on. It's a great idea for compiling a lot of really good stuff. Add it to your RSS reader right now!
I was digging through my collection of quotes and came across this one by Amy Curtis-McIntyre, JetBlue's Vice President of Marketing. So many businesses miss the mark when they leave out the part of branding that takes place inside the company.
"Advertising is the last thing you bring to the mix. You start by getting the product right, getting your attitude right, getting everyone internally understanding the mission. Then you move to telling the story through PR. You build the advertising last, and that way you can live on realistic budgets."
Preach on, Ms. Curtis-McIntyre! If theatrical producers spent more time upfront making their shows better, they could spend a lot less time and money and worry and angst on the backend trying to sell them.
I've said that my ultimate job would be one where I could work via the internet from any physical location and thus be able to split my time between NYC and San Diego (with a few weeks down South from time to time). Little did I know I could be living that dream for as little as a dollar a day. Now that's not really the take-away from this story, but it does make one think...
One of my heroes, Joe Jaffee, has a post today about the GM Employee Discount. He takes exception with it, but I must say, I love it. Surely you've seen the commercials where a GM employee promises that new car buyers will now get the Employee Discount, so "you pay what we pay, not a cent more."
As reported in Ad Age, promotion has found the hearts and minds of consumers and GM's competitors are reacting/retaliating:
GM's "employee discount" hype on all its 2005 models is attracting more consumers who had Ford, Chrysler or other non-GM brands on their shopping lists, according to CNW Marketing/Research. CNW found that while 57% of all people who entered a GM dealership last June were already GM "intenders," just 37% were intenders this June. That means, CNW President Art Spinella explained, that the new program is drawing increased numbers of non-GM consumers, and that the showroom traffic is less reliant on those who already own GM vehicles.
For our purposes, theater tickets at staff discount rates are generally 25-50% of full price. I'm not sure how such a promotion would work for an intangible like a theatre ticket where there is no limit to how low you can discount, but I sure like the idea behind the campaign. And if I was in the market for a new car, I'd like knowing that GM was going to give me their best price without all the gimmicks.
Now that press releases are dead (see yesterday's post), can we please also retire the phrase "outside the box"? If I've heard that once, I've heard it a million times from clients who really mean, "I'm looking for a magic pill to make my show a hit because I don't have enough money to advertise it adequately." Most clients can't afford to be in the box, much less out of it.
For the traditional show, there are tried and true techniques that work and that can generate an audience during the preview period to start building word-of-mouth (think direct mail). Then, when the reviews hit and if the word-of-mouth is positive a build will begin...usually a long, slow build. It can sometimes take a show 3 months to a year before it starts breaking even on a weekly basis. You've got to cover the basics before you can start playing outside of the box on marginal, untested ideas. [Note: in most cases, outside the box to many people means something about as "groundbreaking" and "bold" as sending a CD sampler of a new musical. They don't know what "outside the box" means, but they think they've got to be there.]
But I digress. Back to killing off the box. Fast Company has the inside story.
So I saw Orange Flower Water Sunday night and my friend was right. It was one of the best things I've seen in recent memory. Though I had some issues with the script (albeit minor), I have nothing but the highest praise for the cast, director, set designer and all of the creative team. What a gorgeous production. The word in the program was "raw" and that pretty much described the show (not raw in a vulgar sense, but emotionally). The Edge Theater Company has a new fan! They remind me a bit of another company -- the folks at Barrow Street Theatre (Scott Morfee, Chip Meyrelles and Tom Wirtshafter), producers of Bug (along with Amy Danis and Mark Johannes) andOrson's Shadow, two more plays that were beautifully produced. At least Orson's Shadow is still running, so you've still got time to catch it!
P.S. Back to my original rant about the misuse of quotes...I still hold true to what I said about misusing quotes and destroying credibility. However, in this case, it's a real shame the critic didn't give this play the praise it deserved. The set designer (and the set was spectacular) was not the declared winner. The cast and direction were every bit as incredible. Rarely does a play generate such passionate word-of-mouth, where people tell their friends that they just HAVE to see it. I only went because my friend insisted...not recommended, but insisted that I just had to see it and made me promise him would go. If you produce a play THAT good and have such you don't even need an advertising budget.
Eliran Murphy Group launched a new website last night -- soon to be a group of websites -- focused on building communities of fans for various shows and channeling the fans' enthusiasm to spread the word. Along the way, the fans are rewarded for their evangelism. The umbrella site is TheaterSmart.com and the first two sites are for Little Women the Musical and Slava's Snowshow (coming next).
Since more than two-thirds of tickets are sold by word-of-mouth, these sites will help shows reach potential customers with more credibility than traditional advertising ever could. Friends talking to friends about your show -- what's better than that?
My high school band director taught me that the two hardest things for people to say are "I am wrong" and "I am sorry."
I am wrong.
The friend who I mentioned yesterday as having told me he didn't much care for Orange Flower Water told me yesterday that I got it all wrong, that he LOVED it and it's one of the two best things he's seen this season (the other being Pillowman). AND he went on to say that the producers (Edge Theatre Company) are some of the nicest, most talented people you'll ever meet (though maybe a little naive about advertising and marketing). As to my rant about the "impeccable sets,"...well, maybe there's another side to that story. Turns out that the set designer IS one of the producers, so perhaps in his zeal he can be forgiven for using that quote about his sets to represent his production of the play. It's still not entirely legit, but now it sort of makes more sense. My friend then proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes insisting that I go see Orange Flower Water before it closes on Monday night. So I have 2 tickets for Sunday night. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.