Broadway goes interactive to engage fans

broadway-street-signThere are obviously a lot of parallels between the worlds of feature film and the “legitimate” stage, even if by that last term you mean the flashy, star-studded brands that grace Broadway and similar venues in Chicago and other cities. Which is why there are some interesting points for marketing types in any field, including movies, in this NYTimes story on some interactive strategies being utlized by those putting on Broadway shows.

Putting aside some of the journalistic choices in the story (the writer felt the need to put “mobile marketing” in quotes and make it sound like an esoteric term used by just a few wonks) it’s educational to look at some of the ways these theater marketers are trying to connect with their audience, many of which mimic what movie marketers have used.

First you have people like David Mamet who wrote a blog connected to his recent play “November.” The blog was written by Mamet, who was writing as the main character in the story, making it an extension of the story begun on the stage. This sort of tactic is always one of my favorites since it gives the audience something to latch on to either before (as a way to become familiar with the characters) or after (as a way to keep up with what’s come after) and has been used for movies like Cloverfield and others.

Then you have other, more passive tactics like the use of MySpace pages or YouTube channels as distribution points for blogs that are written by the producer or director as themselves or behind-the-scenes videos. This is a more traditional way to go but has a lot of value. Every one of those pages adds to your online footprint and creates another touch-point for the audience to find out about the show. The key, though, is to actually communicate via those platforms and not just blast stuff in the way of old-fashioned marketing. These are communication channels, but that communication has to go both ways.

Finally you have tactics that are more cute than they are actually useful. Take the creation of Shrekster, a social network built around the stage version of the successful movie series. All the characters have pages and fans can join in and connect with them. I’ve never been a fan of this type of tactic for a number of reasons. While you can make a case for profiles of fictional characters, the fact is that additional networks will never have the adoption you’d see if you did this as, say, a Facebook application. Plus, while this can be an interesting way for people in Chicago looking forward to the show can connect with those that have seen it already in New York, when the show closes it’s unlikely this will be maintained and so everyone loses their communications hub.

Broadway is losing audience faster than Hollywood is so it’s good to see them trying new things. Each of these tactics deserves their own exploration and something like that will be coming in the new year.


In case you were looking for a way to direct the energy you don’t have on this Monday between holidays, you can now watch the Marx Brothers classic Horse Feathers on Hulu.

Starting at the beginning

One of the…oh I’ll just copy and paste this:

One of the goals of the Brothers of John the Steadfast is the creation of reading groups whose intention is to get with a Pastor and read through the Book of Concord. For those people who do not have access to a reading group, it occurred to us that we might try creating an “online reading group” right here on the BJS site.

Got it?

Well if you’re one of those people like me who likes to start things fresh, the BJS guide to reading the Book of Concord started this week at the beginning. Yesterday we read the three Creeds and today is the Preface to Luther’s Small Catechism.

If this were a comic book company bringing on a new writer to a series, I would describe this as a “Perfect jumping on point for new readers.” But I’m not so I won’t. Nope, not at all.

Movie Journal: Step Brothers

Step Brothers is probably the out-and-out raunchiest of the movies made by Will Ferrell and director/co-writer Adam McKay. Where their previous collaborations like Anchorman and Talledega Nights had their moments, they were more about gleaning the comedy from a collection of characters more than trying to get a laugh from, say, Ferrell rubbing his testicles on John C. Reilly’s drumset (and no, that’s not a metaphor – it’s a set of drums).

But Step Brothers is extremely funny if you go along for the ride. All of the sequences seen in the trailers play out even better when surrounded by the supporting material. Watching Ferrell hit Reilly in the face with a shovel and then try to bury him alive, for instance, was all over the marketing but actually works better in the film itself.

The thing that makes it funnier than it probably should be is that the actors are so committed to their characters. That’s the same secret ingredient that makes Anchorman and the other films work so well and it’s in good supply here.