‘Trading’ Audiences

To put it simply: Giving away free stuff works!

Newsies AKB BF

Yesterday’s article looked at how Disney may be spreading itself too thin on Broadway which could cannibalise its repeat customers. But it would be remiss of me to leave it there without looking at how Disney could work on building customer loyalty to ONE of their offerings to counteract this problem. And what do you know . . . they are already doing it!

Newsies is Disney’s latest Broadway offering telling the story of a news boys strike in 1899 with a bit of Disney magic. Towards the beginning of the run, each cast member of Newsies was given 100 limited edition trading cards which contained a picture of their character and some information about the actor playing them. News boys and trading cards . . . a bit of a jump? But there is a really clever idea behind it!

Now, I only have a non-limited edition reprint that a friend brought back to me from their visit to Broadway. But if you were enamoured with the show, then there was quite a bit of competition to get your hands on a limited edition card.

By giving the cast the power over handing out their own limited edition cards, ‘Fansies’ (as they are affectionately called) start to become more devoted to the show. They will visit the stage door more often. They will purchase more tickets. They will start to connect with the production and the stars via social media.

Basically, they start to become highly brand loyal and given the choice they will go back to Newsies at the expense of another show. This puts them exactly where Disney wants them for a couple of reasons:

No. 1: Through their increased loyalty, Disney sells more merchandise and tickets to these consumers.

No. 2: Competition creates word-of-mouth which encourages friends of ‘Fansies’ to visit the show and invest in the experience by going to the stage door (which then turns them into Fansies and turns reason no. 2 into a never ending cycle!). And more ‘Fansies’ means more people hear about and ultimately buy tickets to the show.

But just before I wrap up this article I want to have a look at one Newsie in particular who managed to reap some personal benefits from Disney’s scheme in addition to promoting the Disney brand.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger managed to increase his brand through the simple concept of . . . reciprocity, something that all brands should adopt. By giving out the limited edition (and signed) cards in return for code words published on his Twitter page or favours, such as feeding his addiction to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, he encouraged fans to not only subscribe to his social media streams but also get to know the actor behind the costume.

This is a very impressive idea because, while it furthered the Disney brand, it also made fans take notice of the Andrew Keenan-Bolger brand. And while fans may love him as Crutchie, they are now more likely to follow him onto other roles outside the Disney production because they have connected with his specific brand (plus they get the updates on Twitter!). This not only increases his profile, but makes him more employable in other shows due to his increased following of people who are most likely going to buy tickets!

Clever? I think so. Let me know your opinion in the comments below.