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Broadway theater is polishing its act for sponsors.

The League of American Theatres & Producers is leading a movement to raise the visibility of Broadway theater nationwide through a series of marketing and promotion efforts heavy on sponsorship.

Marketers including Delta Air Lines, American Express Co., Panasonic Co., Perrier Group and Yahoo! are already aboard the 60-year-old league's latest efforts, and more sponsors are expected to join in next year.


All this activity won't necessarily occur only in New York. Broadway theater refers to more than shows staged in the Big Apple. It applies to any show that has been on Broadway or is destined to go there. Two-thirds of Broadway theater business, in revenue and attendance, occurs outside New York. Broadway theater is currently presented by league members in 90 U.S. cities.

The marketing push has been primarily led by former ad agency executive Jed Bernstein, who was named executive director of the New York-based league in 1995. Mr. Bernstein sees vast opportunity in sponsorship of the theater.

"The main goal," he said, "is to use what I would refer to as the Olympic marketing model, which has three tiers of sponsorship-international, country and individual teams."

The league's most successful efforts have included Destination Broadway, a partnership with Delta Air Lines' Delta Dream Vacations, in which travel agents promote Broadway entertainment, and also the Broadway Line, a sponsorable national phone information line. Based on the MovieFone concept, it will be relaunched this spring, offering show information, locations and ticket sales.

Broadway on Broadway, an annual free concert in Times Square, drew 40,000 in September to see cast members from various Broadway shows performing. Recently, the league also signed an international TV deal to telecast the event in at least 30 countries next year.

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