Any Publicity is Good Publicity: Kinky Boots

Apparently Mary Poppins isn’t the only brand suffering a bit of controversy this week. After their performance at the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade last week, 2013 Tony Award winning musical Kinky Boots was thrust into the controversy limelight.

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Next to performing at the Tony Awards, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is right up there as one of the best promotional opportunities any Broadway show gets. It gets millions of New Yorkers to cue up along the street viewing the floats and many, many more millions watching the live broadcast across the country. And since tourists make up a large percentage of Broadway audiences, what more could you ask for?

Well, maybe you could ask for a little controversy because it appears that controversial publicity may be better than good publicity!

The 2013 Best Musical Tony Award-winner, Kinky Boots, performed a mash-up of ‘Raise You Up’ and ‘Just Be’, two songs from the show which promote acceptance and being yourself (the theme of the show). However, members of One Million Mums – the American conservative activist group – went to Twitter to voice their disgust that the show’s drag queens were unwholesome and unfit for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

(I must point out that despite their title, One Million Mums, the organisation only has 60,000 followers on Facebook)

Despite this decry, Macy’s continued to support their decision of inviting Kinky Boots to perform. And this could well have been the end of the matter. However, during the Black Friday festivities, members from Kinky Boots returned to the scene of the crime dressed in either the characteristic sky-high stilettos or full drag with Macy’s full support – and the offer of personal shoppers!

So not only did the cast of Kinky Boots get fantastic exposure from their performance in the parade, but they also got some powerful publicity in the days following to set them apart from the other performers. And it worked.

Kinky Boots just announced that they had their highest grossing week of their season and smashed the house record at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre. All in the wake of the controversial performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Now I am not suggesting that these shows should perform with the intention of being controversial (that is until we have Miley Cyrus: The Musical which would be controversial for controversy’s sake). But what this case does show is the importance of responding to controversy.

Kinky Boots could have gone quiet. They could have lashed out at the One Million Mums. Instead they stuck true to the message of their incredibly popular show and came out of this clash with a reputation much better than the antagonistic organisation. And a fantastic new weekly record!

Check out the performance below.

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