A Food Court effed up an outdoor ad.

I was starving.  Like Oliver! in the orphanage starving, except I hadn’t even had one bowl of gruel.

I set out down Chicago’s truly Magnificent Mile, on my way to a fave restaurant that was about a seven minute stride away when I saw a mini billboard . . . of a burger.

According to this outdoor ad, that saliva-inducing burger was just steps away at a restaurant inside Water Tower Place, a mall that I just walked by.

The ad was so good (and its timing was even better), that I spun around and set out to find that burger, and destroy it with my mouth.

I found the restaurant on the 2nd floor of the mall, inside a food court.

And that’s where things got real.

The burger place was next to a chicken place, a sushi place, a pretzel place, a Mexican place . . . and, gulp, a pizza place.

And suddenly, like Oliver! at an Oktoberfest, I was so overwhelmed with options I didn’t know what to choose.

After about 10 minutes, I decided on . . . the pizza.

I forgot all about the burger that got me to the mall in the first place.  And went with something that made my mouth water just a wee bit more.

After I was satiated, I couldn’t help but think back on my experience with advertising that day.  (Tip to all of you to better understand how marketing works – whenever you buy anything . . . clothes, music, burgers . . . think about the path you took to that purchase.  Did advertising get you there?  Or remind you to buy?)

That poor burger company paid a lot of money for that ad, and then, when they got me to the point of purchase, they lost me, because their competition was right next door.

Us theater Producers have a very similar problem.  Our food court is our ticketing companies.

Broadway shows and Off Broadway shows spend millions of dollars, and we are contractually urged to push a marketing message that says, “Visit TICKETING SITE today.”  What happens when a consumer goes to that generic ticketing site, and sees a show that excites them more or a show that has been in the news or has placed a lot of other media?  I could lose ’em.  Just because we share a cash register.

This is why all shows should push buyers to their website, so you as the Producer can somewhat control where the BUY TICKETS link is going (to your event page, where the only option is tickets for your show).

The ticketing companies have started to ease up on the enforcement of some of their “direct to our site” contractual requirements (not sure why they ever cared, actually, since they make the money however the customer gets there).  And some of the ticketing companies have smartly designed software that allows you to “skin” their site with your brand, so it looks like your customer has never left your site.

Shows spend a lot of money on advertising to convert customers, and we shouldn’t have to worry about losing a customer to another show just because we share the same electronic roof.

If that happens often enough, a show could really end up starving.


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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.