NEW YORK: Marketers on Broadway face numerous obstacles in promoting new shows, and their challenges are informative for any brand with an interest in providing big-ticket experiences.

Ron Simons, founder/CEO of SimonSays Entertainment, a production company, discussed marketing on Broadway at BRITE 2018, a conference held by The Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School.

“Branding for Broadway is very similar to branding for any other company or any other industry – except that, unfortunately, we do branding in, I would argue, a very haphazard kind of way,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Raising the curtain on Broadway’s brand strategies)

The obstacle to consistency is clear: each production – from splashy big-budget musicals to intense Off-Broadway dramas – effectively represents a one-off project that is built from the ground up.

Even under ideal circumstances, it is difficult for a show “to go beyond the borders of just New York City and become a brand,” argued Simons.<

Two exceptions to that rule are “Hamilton”, the hit musical telling the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers, and “Wicked”, an alternative take on the fantasy story “The Wizard of Oz”.

“It's a rare thing,” Simons said. “Most people you will hear say ‘Hamilton’ is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. And I completely agree. So, you have to get past the early stages before you can even hope to have a brand.”

As a producer of Tony-winning shows including “Jitney”, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “Vania and Sonia and Masha and Spike”, Simons is familiar with what success takes.

Some of the hurdles involve a limited supply of theatres, a fragmented mix of theatre owners and production companies, and also an overall lack of marketing expertise.

“I happen to have a degree in marketing, but not everyone does,” he said. “People come to producing from acting, from directing, from every aspect. There is no one path.”

Corporate America, he continued, has clear routes for marketing specialists to follow in climbing a ladder – something that is largely missing in New York’s theatrical hub.

“That doesn't always exist on Broadway, which [means it] amazes me that we can ever get anything done on Broadway, and have success. Because we are relatively ill-equipped, relative to our corporate partners,” Simons said.

Sourced from WARC