As Broadway prepares for its biggest night, one agency is likely to come out a winner, regardless of the shows that take home Tony Awards.
SpotCo, a New York-based entertainment advertising agency, handled the advertising for 16 Tony-nominated shows. The Tony Awards are Sunday, June 7 and will air on CBS.
SpotCo relies on visual and interactive advertisements to crack the niche theater-going market and create buzz about Broadway's newest productions. With only 38 Broadway theaters in New York, the market is small and filled with turnover.
"Ten years ago when someone wanted to see a show they would go to The New York Times with a credit card in hand and now there's Google," said Ilene Rosen, president of SpotCo.
Today, there's more to Broadway advertising than Times Square billboards and Playbill ads. SpotCo's clients have shifted budgets to TV and digital resources in recent years.
The approach has earned the respect of Broadway producers and has led to the acquisition of big name clients including Best Musical nominee's "Fun Home" and "Something Rotten;" Best Play nominee "The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time;" Best Revival Play nominees "Skylight," "The Elephant Man" and "This is Our Youth;" and Best Revival Musical nominees "The King and I", "On the Town" and "On the Twentieth Century."
"Broadway shows don't have the budget," Tom Greenwald, chief strategy officer at SpotCo, said. "You have to get attention with a lot less ammunition."
For "Something Rotten," a musical comedy set in the 1590s, which portrays a fictional account of the creation of the first musical, it was all about making the advertisements stand out. Drawing on the comedic roots of the play, Peter De Seve, a longtime New Yorker cover artist, created quirky poster illustrations.
A different strategy was taken for "Fun Home," which had a strong showing Off-Broadway. SpotCo touted the show's rave reviews and relied heavily on word-of-mouth buzz. "Our job was to convince people that it was a musical for everybody, not just a specialized audience," Mr. Greenwald said.
Still, even the best marketing can fall flat without a great product to sell.
"There's no magic pill for a show that doesn't have stars," Mr. Greenwald said. "You have to put your best work forward. If the show is good then the advertising works."