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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Joffrey Ballet and the marketing of "Othello"


joffrey.jpgDance can be tricky when it comes to marketing. Afficionados may be fairly familiar with a large swath of the dance repertoire. But how do you generate curiosity among the uninitiated when you have only a giant billboard with which to do it? That was the intriguing challenge facing the marketing department of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, which is trying to whip up interest in the Chicago premiere of the ballet "Othello" from Oct. 14 to 25 at the Auditorium Theatre. Since the ballet has never before been presented in Chicago, even afficionados may not be fully informed about the piece and whatever might make it worth seeing.

In any event, the Joffrey decided to use only a bit of beefcake imagery and a Web address to whet the public's appetite for "Othello" in the new billboard execution near the Kennedy Expressway at Elston. We fear the new billboard may not offer enough information or enough of a hard sell to have much impact at the box office. A hint at what might have helped the billboard work better is evident at the Joffrey Web site, where the same dancer with rippling chest musculature is visible. But above the ballet's title, the words "witness the passion" magically materialize on the Joffrey home page on the Web. Now passion is something people can savor in a dance performance. A mention of that passion would have been a resonant addition to the billboard too.


I don't know if I agree with that. For one thing, the word "Othello" suggests volumes--I may not know dance, but I went to high school, I've heard of Shakespeare. More problematic is the notion that the story of Othello is (only) about passion. Leave that line for the website where we can privately ponder whether we agree while scrolling around for more info, but don't saddle the stand-alone billboard with so limiting an interpretation.

Great post Lewis. But I'd have to disagree on the passion point. I think one of the 1000 words this image efficiently communicates is certainly passion. I've never seen the ballet, just the play. But the big idea comes across to me in the image and gives me a good guess of what I'm in for at the Auditorium.

My 2 cents is that this is a smart, very interactive use of analog media to hook an audience into a more interactive digital conversation and hopefully Othello ticket sale via the prominent and easy to remember URL. So I'd say it's the perfect amount of information.

But then in the interest of full disclosure, I've become a big fan of the Joffrey ever since I witnessed their amazing 9/11 tribute performance at Millennium park last summer.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Lazare published on September 3, 2009 1:55 PM.

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