The Great Debate

Posted on May 15, 2011

I recently saw a documentary called The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.  It was a movie about advertising, branding and product placement.  It follows Morgan Spurlock, the director, as he attempts to get companies to fund his movie through advertising, branding and product placement.  These companies were willing to invest up to a million dollars to be featured in his film.  In the end the entire film was funded by these corporate investors.

This film really made me think a lot about marketing and the difference between marketing film and theatre.  The major difference, as far as I see it, is that films have money to put in to marketing, lots of it, and theatre generally doesn’t .

This brings me to the great debate.  ITSAZOO normally has a limited marketing budget on every production and we always spend a great deal of time debating how this limited budget is best spent.  We start by exhausting every free marketing possibility – Facebook (which I find is becoming less effective every day), Twitter, our lovely blog, online listings etc.  We hire a publicist and pray that we get good coverage in the form of previews, radio interviews, reviews etc.  Especially reviews.  Our poor PR rep always gets this email a million times “Hey, have you heard from the Georgia Straight yet?  Are they coming?  We really want them to see it and review it.” If you produce theatre in Vancouver you’d be lying if you told me you haven’t ever sent that email.  We all have.

Beyond that we have  a lot of hard decisions to make when it comes to how to spend our money. Here are some of the questions we ponder: is it worth spending lots of money on tons of posters when they get covered up so quickly anyway? Would just a few in choice locations be better? Are print ads in Newspapers worth the money?  Do people look at bus shelter ads?  What’s the greatest bang for our buck?  Is Playboard worth the cash?  Who reads it?  And on and on.  We come to a different conclusion with every show and it’s a constant balancing act.

I’m curious what you think.  What do you see that makes you want to see a play?  What do you think is the best bang for your buck?  Join in the great debate.

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