Using bagpipes to promote your show.
With every show there are the gratuitous morning television appearances, but what other options do you have? War Horse has found some and I have some suggestions for other shows!
Every musical and play ever written has themes that work particularly well in specific contexts. For example, the story of Wicked pushes the theme of friendship, Grease works really well with growing up and high school and Cats . . . well, don’t get me started. But it is an exception to the rule.
Each show fits very well into a certain context. And War Horse have really taken advantage of this.
Especially in British culture, WW1 is a big event that had huge fatalities and evokes some really strong emotions of remembrance and loyalty. Of course War Horse used these themes really well to convey its moving story, but when looking for promotion opportunities it is important to explore these ideas outside the theatre doors.
We all saw Joey, the title horse, in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations along the river, but that was just taking advantage of her love of horses. However, Joey has made a very recent appearance in another English tradition that directly mirrors the themes of War Horse: The Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
There is something right about Joey appearing at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Joey is the modern embodiment of the trials and tribulations that society went through during WW1 which is currently resonating with thousands of people every night. As a result, it seems like the necessary extension of the Tattoo to include Joey in order to bring new, younger audiences to the grand old tradition. But there is also some benefit for War Horse in addition to the free publicity it gets from Joey’s appearances in front of the 220,000 strong crowd over the month of performances.
War Horse resonates exceptionally well with people who have an understanding of society during wartime. And these people are most likely going to be attending the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, or at least watching the Tattoo on television.
So if the story of War Horse resonates with these people and the marketing team at War Horse know that they will all be watching the spectacle at the same time, doesn’t it just seem like the right place to advertise?
Plus, in case there weren’t enough reasons for Joey to appear at the Tattoo, the event is beamed around the world to countries across the British Commonwealth. Not only does this raise awareness across the world for the show, it can also take advantage of the happy coincidence that War Horse is currently playing in Australia. All these Australians who watch the Tattoo will be alerted to the fact that they should go and see War Horse before it finishes its Australian Tour.
I think the scientific marketing term is a double-whammy.
So where else could this be used? Maybe the new Australian Grease revival should perform at the State Schools Spectacular, an event that showcases high school talent across each Australian state. Maybe Wicked could perform at a large event for World Environment Day (No, it’s not just because Elphaba’s green, they are currently pushing environmental messages on Broadway). Maybe Cats . . .
Anyway, take a look at the themes your show promotes and then see if society has large gatherings of these people. Because if they do, then those are the people you should be targeting for your audience. Not only because they will probably buy tickets, but also because they will really enjoy your show if it aligns with what they believe in!
Give me a hand, help me work out where Cats could perform? I’m struggling to find any themes that it evokes except for extra-terrestrial travel – and I don’t think that Comic-con has a big theatre market! Let me know your suggestions in the comment section below.