A new division of Broadway ad agency Serino Coyne is applying integrated marketing tactics familiar to the movie and music industries to reach the 30 million consumers who attend Broadway shows each year.

The division's first project, in partnership with The Erlick Group, is Visa's sponsorship of the Twyla Tharp musical Movin' Out, based on the music of Billy Joel.

A six-week advance ticket program, part of a larger campaign, has netted some $2.5 million in ticket sales for the show, which opens in New York City Sept. 30, according to Susan Lee, who heads the new division, Serino Coyne Connect.
The four-month-old division is focusing on four areas: branding/strategic planning, sponsorship development/sales, new media promotion and travel/tourism.

On the sponsorship side, the company has entered into a joint venture with The Erlick Group to develop opportunities for New York City and national theatrical roadshows. Lee is evaluating partners for branding, new media and travel initiatives.

"Most consumer products companies don't think of sponsoring a Broadway show," says The Erlick Group's Jim Erlick. Adds Lee, "It's a very uncluttered market."

The Movin' Out promotion was tested with previews in Chicago, where a direct-mail piece gave Visa cardholders a two-week advance window to purchase tickets. (Of course, American Express has been offering advance tickets for Broadway and other events to its customers for many years.)

In New York, the Movin' Out sponsorship has been extended in several ways. In addition to the six-week advance window, a Playbill-style promotional piece is included with ticket purchases. The promotional piece offers discounts on parking, dining, hotels, and show merchandise when a Visa card is used.

In addition, it invites consumers to sign up online for e-mail updates on the show, ticket information and exclusive offers.

The campaign also includes an e-mail blast to Billy Joel fans with a link to the Movin' Out website, where fans can stream songs from the show. Erlick notes that of the 75 million CDs Joel has sold during his career, some 25 million were sold in the greater New York area. Local radio station WPLJ-FM, Ticketmaster, Sony Music and Columbia Records all contributed addresses to the E-mail list.

Visa's objectives: to establish a clear and proprietary relationship with the show; to extend its existing Broadway platform; and to deliver a value-added message that would drive usage among its existing customers.

Serino Coyne represents a number of Broadway shows, including The Phantom Of The Opera, Urinetown and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Themed marketing opportunities will be developed around shows that are oriented toward family, gay, and Hispanic audiences in order to create evergreen tie-in opportunities so that even if the shows change, the concept still works as a marketing tool, notes Lee.

Another program in development is a standardized "student rush" promotion offering on-campus and in-theater lectures plus show discounts for students at some of the New York Metropolitan area's 120-odd colleges, as well as on-campus lectures. An initial college outreach program created several years ago for The Iceman Cometh by a company Lee founded, Camp Broadway, netted some 10,000 college students.

Also in the works is a fall satellite media tour that will provide feeds every Friday morning from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. featuring Broadway stars available for TV morning show interviews in 10-20 markets.

Internally, Serino Coyne is building a national database of Broadway roadshows. "No one has created a central clearinghouse so that people can also plan local promotions as well as national promotions around Broadway shows," says Lee.

Source: Entertainment Marketing Letter.
Copyright 2002 EPM Communications, Inc. 212-941-0099.

Reprinted by permission of the publisher.