Making yourself a prize catch

Long-running shows rely on publicity stunts to keep their show top of mind and hopefully appeal to a larger, more mainstream audience who may be looking for an introduction into the world of theatre. And I just re-discovered a really good example from the people at Wicked . . .

 Megan Hilty (Glinda in Wicked)

Often there is a tendency to shy away from the tacky. But when you want to appeal to a mainstream market that may not have had that much previous involvement with theatre, sometimes you just have to embrace tackiness. As Wicked did when they appeared as a prize on the American Deal or No Deal:

Now, of course just the action of appearing on the national television program gives Wicked more publicity and reach into a new audience. But there were three specific things that happened which turned this into an ultra-powerful stunt:

1. The contestant’s reaction – As you can see from the video, when the contestant sees Megan Hilty appear as Glinda the Good Witch she loses her mind! She clearly loves musicals and desperately wants to see the show.

This is fantastic for Wicked because it raises the Wicked brand for all the viewers. If this woman – who they have spent the last 25 minutes watching and hopefully relating to – loses her mind of Wicked, it will encourage viewers to check out what all the fuss is about.

2. Lumping Wicked tickets in with other expensive prizes – Not only did the contestant get tickets to Wicked, she got a walk-on role, a limo ride with Megan Hilty and Glinda’s wand. These three additions are invaluable to a theatre fan, like the contestant, and also raise the value of Wicked in the eyes of non-theatre audience members.

By adding these other prizes, it also allowed the show to value the experience at $12,000. When the audience has Wicked in their mind and have seen that it has been valued at $12,000, paying $120 for a ticket pales in comparison and makes the future consumers feel like they are getting a discount rate!

3. The contestant choosing to ‘Deal’ rather than ‘No Deal’ – This was possibly the most important step in the whole process. If the contestant had decided that they still wanted a shot at the $1,000,000 prize and hit ‘No Deal’ then the image of Wicked would have plummeted.

Since she chose to ‘Deal’, audience members have watched someone positively model the behaviour that they should engage in and saw the absolute over-joyed demeanour that followed. This link made in the viewers’ minds would certainly make consumers more likely to follow through and purchase a ticket.

(Disclaimer: I have no doubt that the producers knew that the contestant would take this prize (which was why they threw in the extra $50,000) and this minimised the risk that Wicked were taking by volunteering their brand for the prize.)

While this stunt may appear over-the-top on paper, it really does look good when put on national television. And I have very little doubt that the investors would have been disappointed with their yearly returns that year on their investment in Wicked!

Have you seen any big publicity stunts like this? Maybe it is comparable to having the contestants from My Kitchen Rules and similar programs appear on game shows? Let me know your opinion in the comments below!

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