Searching for Hidden Clues

Easter Eggs are a much loved tradition. Finding these elusive prizes brings together families and communities, incites the competitive nature of participants and adds a whole new level to an entertainment experience. Oh, hold on, you didn’t think I was talking about the chocolate ones . . .


In addition to the chocolate treats hidden around gardens every Easter, there is another kind of Easter Egg. These Easter Eggs are an intentionally hidden inside joke or message in a piece of entertainment. And they are equally as addictive as the chocolate-y treats!

There are many famous examples of these Easter Eggs. Hidden Mickey Mouses in Disney films. A special command done in Microsoft Excel that brings up a car racing game. References to famous movies in Shrek that go right over children’s heads. Hidden features on a DVD that can only be discovered by stumbling upon an invisible menu. And many, many more!

All these Easter Eggs cause consumers to fully engage with their entertainment choice and create extra value for these highly-involved parties.

So, if Easter Eggs are books, movies, television shows, computer games and Microsoft Office products, why not build them into live entertainment? Well, it is already happening!

Last night I saw the return Australian production of Wicked. The show itself is full of Easter Eggs rewarding the highly involved audience member who has a great knowledge of the original L. Frank Baum book, the 1939 Wizard of Oz and the Gregory Maguire book which the musical is based upon. Importantly, missing these Easter Eggs does not detract from the experience but it provides a clever way to maintain the interest and encourage repeat business from consumers who already know everything about the story. And this results in a lasting (and powerful) relationship with these invested audience members!

Let me give you an example. Boq, a munchkin, fetches punch for Nessarose, the character who becomes the Wicked Witch of the East. When asked what is in the punch, Boq’s line gives a nod back to a famous line from the 1939 movie ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears’ by replying ‘Apples and Melons and Pears’ to which Nessarose replies (as Judy Garland did in the movie) ‘Oh My!’

But the Easter Eggs do not end in the storyline. Leading actors also play an important part in creating a new dimension for Easter Eggs.

Casting a well-known actor in a lead role ensures that large numbers of their fans turn out to see them perform. And that means that there are a large number of people in the audience who have a rather good knowledge about these performers leading to another opportunity to employ the Easter Egg idea. For example, during the very popular song Popular, Lucy Durack does a bit of an Irish jig harking back to her time in Legally Blonde.

Yes, it is a very small thing. But the people who notice these Easter Eggs probably have already engaged with the production before and seeing this hidden joke allows them to gain some new value from the experience. And it is this opportunity to gain new value which keeps the relationship alive – and may even get them back again!