‘Let’s talk about sex baby . . .’

Gimmicks are an effective marketing tool. They get the market to take notice of the show and they get the market to engage with the show. And with the impending opening of a new Broadway show, First Date, I think we might have some rather exciting and hilarious gimmicks on the way as we have seen with other shows that covered a similar theme!

first date

In order for a gimmick to be effective it has to, at least, be relevant to the content of the product you are selling. For example, getting a psychic to prove that you are a virgin is not a good way to market Fruit Loops, but it is a good way to sell tickets to the show My First Time.

Hold on, let me take a couple of steps backwards.

My First Time is an off-Broadway play that opened in 2007. The show is based on a website that was very popular towards the end of the millennium, myfirsttime.com, which allowed people to anonymously post stories of their first time. Of course, this play only picked out the funny, intriguing and a couple of disappointing stories (as well as accounts from that night’s audience) and then wove them together to create a hilarious show where four actors would read out these accounts.

Sounds rather cheap for the creators, doesn’t it? Well, these kind of ‘documentary plays’ are actually rather common and they tend to be rather popular. As we all know, the truth often tends to be the funniest material!

Anyway, back to marketing . . .

In order to gain a bit more media coverage and boost up ticket sales, the production team came up with a rather interesting and rather controversial gimmick . . . free tickets for virgins.

Now there was one catch to this gimmick, how can someone prove they are a virgin? Well, that was where the hypnotherapist came in. For the length of this promotion, there were a limited number of free tickets that were given out when a mind reader was satisfied that you were a virgin.

Hypnotherapists and proving your virginity. Sound gimmicky enough?

Well, you may be laughing now, but as a result of this stunt the production gained:

  • Media attention (see the video below for a news broadcast)
  • Publicity on high visibility media platforms that the production could not afford
  • Differentiation from the other offerings on both Broadway and off-Broadway
  • Managed to create a connection with the theatre-going market
    . . . And managed to keep the show going until September, 2010 (over 3 years!).

While the new show First Date may not cover the same territory, I can see lots of gimmicky publicity stunt opportunities with some rather funny dating disaster stories from the general public. Who know what they will do? Hopefully something that will rival ‘Virgins come for free’!

Have you got any ideas? Let me know in the comments section below.

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