Broadway is only as good as the people in it.
When I was a kid I collected baseball cards of my favorite players.
When I was a kid I had posters of my favorite movie stars on my walls.
When I was a kid . . . I didn’t know one Broadway star from another.
One of the greatest marketing tools that other industries have made much better use of is the people that make up those industries. And it’s time we catch up.
We need to do a better job as an industry of promoting the people that do what we do. And I’m not just talking about the Patti Lupones and the Nathan Lanes of our world . . . I’m talking about everyone on or off a chorus line who performs eight times a week.
We’ve concentrated so hard on marketing theater as a genre, or our shows, as a brand, we might want to flip our strategy a bit and try marketing the people that appear in those brands. The hope being, of course, that an audience will fall in love with people, and support whatever show they are appearing in (like an athlete that goes from team to team, or an actor that appears in movie after movie).
Wouldn’t Broadway trading cards be cool? Why not posters of your favorite stars at merch stands or in stores? A quick search of “Broadway Calendar” on Amazon yielded this result . . . a calendar of Playbill covers, and none of the images are of the people whose names are in those Playbills.
There are some union rules to navigate and press subtleties to work out, but we need to take the hint from our sister industries . . . pushing people can yield much greater results than pushing a product.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.