Selling Out With Scott Kane

Scott Kane

Scott Kane

Last week, Jim wrote about — and received in the mail — a Newsies bobblehead, a promotional idea and a Broadway first from the minds of Scott Kane and the folks at Shorenstein Hays Nederlander in San Francisco. It’s a bright idea that crosses lines between genres of live entertainment marketing: The San Francisco Giants introduced sports fans to bobblehead giveaways in 1999.

The Newsies bobblehead promotion is already seeing success. How much? We got more details on this emerging story from Kane, a man with more than 20 years of experience in the live entertainment industry. Before landing at SHN, where he leads the overall marketing strategy for SHN and all of the productions at the Curran, Golden Gate and Orpheum Theatres in San Francisco, he was Director of Marketing for Radio City Music Hall/Madison Square Garden in New York and Regional Marketing Director for Feld Entertainment, where he promoted family shows in more than 40 cities across the country.

For anyone in the Bay Area, the Newsies Bobblehead Giveaway happens Tuesday, February 17, at 8:00pm. And you can follow Scott on Twitter @scottkaneSF.

Selling Out: How did you come up with the idea to do a Newsies bobblehead?

Scott Kane: Thanks to the San Francisco Giants, the idea has been brewing for a while. Each year, they send me a bobblehead as a holiday gift, so I have this big collection in my office that I stare at all day long. I always thought Broadway fans were just as passionate as sports fans and would embrace a one-of-a-kind Broadway bobble and thankfully, Disney Theatrical Productions team saw the potential and agreed to make it happen for Newsies.

You can find more info here on the connection to the Giants.

SO: Is there a specific audience you’re trying to reach with this promotion?

SK: Because this is a first for our industry, we have the luxury of talking to our existing Broadway fans in a new and unique way, and that’s a big opportunity. The Bobblehead Giveaway Night will have its own marketing strategy that we think will appeal to our core buyers, as well as the younger, more casual theatergoer.

SO: What kind of feedback have you had thus far?

SK: The vanity metrics have been overwhelmingly positive. The buzz on social media was really strong for the first 48 hours, and our SHN fans, Broadway fans around the country and the Broadway industry have had a lot of fun talking about it. (See below for a few Twitter comments.)

More importantly, we’re selling tickets. In the first three days of pre-sales, more than 20% of our total ticket sales (over 32 performances) were selling into the Tuesday night Bobblehead Giveaway night performance.

This is uncommon, as most single-ticket sales initially sell for weekend performances (which is true for all live entertainment). So, while happy about the good buzz, we’re more excited about the strong sales start toward our goal of selling out the first performance of a 32-performance run well in advance.

SO: Is there a long-term goal for a promotion like this: subscriptions, loyalty?

SK: Retention plays a big part in this promotion, which is why we also announced that all SHN members will receive a complimentary Newsies bobblehead at each of the remaining 31 Newsies performances, courtesy of SHN.

The first performance will be filled with single-ticket buyers who purchased tickets to Bobblehead Night and at the 31 remaining shows, SHN Members will receive their complimentary bobblehead, which was a no-brainer in terms of rewarding our most loyal customers with a bobblehead, on us.

The bobblehead idea really incorporates all the elements of a strong marketing strategy: They’re a highly desirable souvenir that drives sales to early, weekday shows,  generates strong word-of-mouth and social buzz, and puts the Newsies/SHN brand front and center on the desks at work and bookshelves at home of our most loyal fans.

Time will tell, but I think promotions like this can and should become standard practice for selling tickets to Broadway productions here in San Francisco, on Broadway and across the country.

Broadway is no different than any other form of live entertainment. We’re all just trying to get fans through our doors, and there’s no harm in taking an existing idea and recycling it to make it work for a new audience. That’s what we’re doing and, hopefully, we’ll be successful enough that we can keep pace with the sports industry and move on to garden gnome giveaways next year!

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