Friday, April 15, 2011
Nobody is listening
So I was thrilled to find someone outside the Daley Center handing out mini-flyers. Here was my chance to read all about the show and decide if I want to go...
The flyer tells me almost nothing. It raves about an actress I don't know (see again: head in hole). It tells me it's a show about a family. It tells me it's emotional. It tells me that it won awards.
Based on this stunning amount of information, I've placed this show as a cross between Sweeney Todd and Mary Poppins. Should be a blast.
Is this the best we can do when introducing a new show? Is this how we think that we'll make people feel familiar enough with the show to give it a try? Big name artists certainly do make us feel more comfortable, but is Alice Ripley big enough for the general public to rely on that to carry the show?
Going back to the Heath Brothers and their SUCCESs model, let's take a look and see how sticky this flyer might be:
Simple: This ad isn't at all simple. It tries to overwhelm you with pull quotes, mentioning awards, a nonsensical graphic of a musical score tied in knots. Almost nothing at all about the show itself.
Unexpected: Sadly, it's all too expected that a show ad will try to dazzle with the best quotes and call itself "emotional". All the bold in the world doesn't draw my eye in place of something truly unexpected.
Concrete: The only thing that makes this ad concrete is that there will be music, but a printed ad can't even convey what kind. A reference to the Rent director evokes rock musical, but the mention of family makes me question that. It could very well be a rock musical about a family, but nothing actually confirms that in the ad.
Credible: Pull quotes try to be credible, but I think we've all gotten too cynical for it to work. Everyone knows that you can find a few words in even the worst review that make you look at least ok. Mentioning the Tony and Pulitzer is a little better, but I'm also cynical about award shows personally these days, so for me that left just the Pulitzer to give credibility.
Emotional: Saying the word "emotional" in the ad doesn't count. Sorry. A later quote says "Much more than a feel-good musical: it is a feel-everything musical." but what does that even mean? Feeling everything is so broad as to be meaningless. Remember the old "You'll laugh! You'll cry!" etc.? Yeah, just as lacking in meaning and very ad-speak-esque.
Stories: This is the greatest crime for an arts presentation. This is the essence of what we do. Not telling a story about the show is just tragic.
Not a good showing, is it?
We need to do better. We can recognize ways to make a show feel more familiar without sacrificing the things that will actually make the message about the show stick and get people to try it out.