Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tony for Best Musical Is Nice, but a Profitable Hit Is Better -

Tony for Best Musical Is Nice, but a Profitable Hit Is Better -

'via Blog this'

In the photo accompanying this article from the NY Times, you see at least fifteen(!) people at an ad meeting for "A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder", the winner of this year's Tony Award for Best Musical. The article describes how the producers and marketing agency are struggling to figure out how to fully exploit their Tony victory.

The show has no bankable mega movie or TV star, unusual for a Broadway musical, more so for the Tony winner. The article speaks of the post-Tony win uptick in premium sales, at $250 or so, as a vital key to the success of the show going forward. At the start of the meeting, the lead producer asks, "So what do we do now?"

Why do experienced Broadway producers need to hire a huge team of self proclaimed marketing experts to sell a musical that has just won the Tony Award for Best Musical? Why did these producers decide to produce the show in the first place? After the long gestation process that is producing a Broadway show, do the producers have no idea, at long last, what it is that they are selling? Do they have to shell out the thousands and thousands of dollars in fees to an agency that will do a job no better than the producers could do on their own, if they had a mind to?

I think it goes back to those two emotions businessmen don't ever really escape from. Fear and greed. Greed is easy, and pretty much speaks for itself. Fear, the fear of failure and opprobrium is the key. If the producers go it alone, and were to trust their instincts and do their own marketing, the risk of failure, no larger than that with an agency, carries the taint of embarrassment. "Why didn't these guys use professionals???" On the plus side, costs for their show would be greatly reduced without the out-sized marketing fees that go with hiring an "ad agency", perhaps enabling the show to attain profitability much quicker.

Not every show can be the next Book of Mormon. Not every show can or should run for multiple years. Premium priced tickets will shorten the run of any big time hit, but that wisdom seems to elude most producers on Broadway, and they'll not likely hear it from the "professional marketers".

The historical average of Broadway shows recouping is approximately one out of five. The advent and rise of specialized Broadway marketing agencies in the last decades has not altered those numbers. The Tony for Best Musical gives Gentleman's Guide a huge leg up on achieving ultimate profitability. The thousands of dollars that have been and will be paid out to the marketers will only serve to prolong that final reckoning.

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