Turning Employees into Walking Billboards

The advantages of turning your brand loyal fans into hard-core promoters has already been discussed on this blog, so I thought I would turn to the other important aspect of a theatre company . . .  the employees. And surprisingly, this group requires fewer incentives to go out and promote your show!


The concept of a human billboard, as shown in the picture above, has been around for a long time. This form of marketing appears to be a rather effective marketing idea to increase awareness. Whether they lead to sales is another question as they may cheapen the brand, but they definitely encourage people to take notice of the advertisement.

However, not all human billboards have to be this obvious!

Many amateur and professional shows provide their cast, orchestra and backstage crew with production t-shirts that show-off the logo and the details of the show. These clothing items are great talking points for the general public when they come across someone who is wearing them, leading to questions like:

  • ‘Were you in that production?’
  • ‘Did the audiences love that show?’
  • ‘Was it lots of fun to be involved?’

. . . and many more question that promote and show-off the production and the theatre company!

But I have one problem with all of these questions – they are all in past tense. What good does it do for the show if your employees are going around after it has finished and spreading the word? Not much. Especially as the t-shirts rarely contain much information about the theatre company and never contain any information about future productions.

While it may seem obvious, King Kong the Musical has made one tiny change to this process that turns their employees into walking billboards. What is it, you ask?

They gave out the promotional jumpers a month before the show started. I know it doesn’t appear to be, but trust me, it is revolutionary for the theatre industry!

Now when people come up to the cast, orchestra or backstage crew, the questions that are asked change:

  • ‘Are you involved in the show?’
  • ‘How is it going? I head the gorilla puppet is phenomenal’
  • ‘When does the production open?’

. . . and most importantly, ‘Should I buy tickets?’

These promotional jumpers have now become a talking point that will actually encourage people to buy tickets to the production. Also, they cut down on the effort that the consumer has to go through in order to find out if they will like the production because they can just ask the employee ‘Will I enjoy it?’. While all the information online is great, we know that personal recommendations are one of the most effective forms of marketing that any organisation can utilise. And these recommendations are most likely to be positive as they are coming from the people who are actually involved in the creation of this piece of theatre (and the fact that their future jobs rely on ticket sales is also a rather enticing motivator as well!).

But will the employees wear the jumpers?

Of course! Who doesn’t love it when friends, family and colleagues take an interest in your own life? It builds you up and gives you a big confidence boost in a slightly subtler way than bringing it up in conversations yourself: ‘Oh this, I just threw this jumper on this morning . . . Why yes, I am in the cast of King Kong!’

I mean, if I had one of the jumpers I would be wearing it for the ego boost too!

What do you think? Should all theatre companies start to give out their promotional attire earlier? I think so. Let me know your opinion in a comment below!