Monday, June 25, 2007

Texas Rangers advertising

When I first saw these simple TV spots, they really caught my eye because typical Rangers commercials are basically announcements. So, I decided to find out who made them. Being the Texas Rangers, in DFW, I thought the agency might've been The Richards Group or another local agency. Lo and behold, the AOR (Agency of Record) is Door Number 3 in Austin! Here is what the Creative Director, Prentice Howe, had to say.

For some odd reason this is the first Texas-based agency to have their work featured in the ads showcase.

How in the world did a 20-person agency win the prestigious Texas Rangers account?

Hard work. Seriously. This was the type of account we wanted so we put in the time and energy to get it. I think winning Dallas/Fort Worth Area Tourism helped give us a presence in the area. From there, it was about building relationships, getting in the door and impressing the Rangers organization with our thinking. It was a very competitive review process so we knew we’d need to give it everything we had. We burned more than a few weekends preparing.

Now, a question from a disgruntled Rangers fan (me). How do you think they're going to do this year? World-Series bound?

As the ad agency for the Rangers, we’re not at liberty to comment. But I will tell you this. There’s a Rangers T-ball team in town that’s looking really strong this pre-season. They have a cleanup hitter named Lil’ Grande. Keep your eye on that kid.

What was the inspiration behind the campaign?

Like anything, it begins with a good strategy. Suzanne Kyba (Director of Account Service at Door Number 3) and the team put together a very smart strategy based around people’s insatiable desire for shared experiences. We’re living in a time when people hold their Blackberry more than their kids. With this campaign, we’re offering up the ballpark as a place where – win or lose – people can reconnect and get back to what really matters in life.

I noticed the ads don't show any of the players. Are they going to be in any future work?

Not in the TV, outdoor or print. We’ll have players’ voices in radio spots and we may find a way to weave them into our alt media tactics. Stay tuned.

What's it like working in LA compared to working in Austin (Prentice used to work in LA)? And what's the future for Door Number 3? Stay small or go big?

The differences have more to do with the vibe of the city than anything else. The processes and the minds are very similar. Austin is loaded with people from California, New York and everywhere in between. The creative class chooses location first, job second. Which means if you’re living in a cool city, the talent pool will keep growing and the work will find its way to the national stage.

The future for Door Number 3 is all about growing, getting better and continuing to bring out the personality of every brand we represent. I don’t think we’ll use an employee headcount as a benchmark. We’ll have met our goal when we all have matching PT Cruisers with the Door Number 3 logo airbrushed on the back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turn on Your Cell Phones!

During Intermission, Cellphones Are Brandished in a Promotion

Published: June 18, 2007

Typically you are told to turn off your cellphone before a performance. But at a recent Saturday matinee of “Spring Awakening,” the Broadway musical that garnered eight Tony Awards last week, the audience was told to do just the opposite.

“Win Your Chance to Come Backstage!” said a flier inserted into the Playbill, which encouraged theatergoers to send the text message “bdway spring” to a five-digit number before the end of intermission.

After the show, Becky Mitchell, 18, received a text message that she had won, and she bounded onto the stage with Alyssa Navia, 19, a friend from Boston College, where both are freshmen. “This is my first Broadway show,” said Ms. Mitchell, who wore a rugby shirt and Ugg boots. “This is fantastic.”

The production’s company manager, John E. Gendron, showed them the trapdoors in the stage from which, only minutes before, two actors had risen from a dry-ice ground fog.

But what the play’s producers hope to make magically appear in the future are audiences. At the performance, 62 people sent text messages, which included their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, in hopes of winning the contest. All of their information went into a database that will be used to pitch Broadway tickets and other promotions.

In exchange, contestants were sent a ring tone of a popular song in “Spring Awakening” and a photograph from the show to use as wallpaper on their phones. Both of the souvenirs are potential conversation starters with friends, whom the producers think of as would-be ticket buyers.

“Those are numbers talking to numbers talking to numbers,” said Damian Bazadona, president of Situation Marketing, who is working with the producers and the owner of the theater, Jujamcyn Theaters, on the pilot program. “A year or two years down the road, that’s how you’re talking to markets.”

Americans sent 18.7 billion text messages in December 2006, nearly double the 9.7 billion that were sent the previous December, according to CTIA, a wireless industry trade group. While various companies have tried to beat a path from consumers’ phones to their wallets, theater promoters, weary of phones ringing infuriatingly during denouements, have held back.

Until now.

“There’s a tendency for Broadway not to be an early adopter, but that’s changing,” said Jordan Roth, vice president of Jujamcyn, which owns five theaters in New York, including the Eugene O’Neill Theater, where “Spring Awakening” is being staged. “Most producers now are really looking for new ways to communicate with our audience.”

The musical’s producers are sharing data with Jujamcyn, which is signing up participants for Broadway Phone, its wireless service for ticket deals and show information. Since the production draws young audiences with its themes of adolescent angst, it was chosen for the maiden cellphone effort. “But our goal is to expand what we’re doing to many shows,” Mr. Roth said.

As for whether this will result in more ringing during performances, Mr. Roth said that it has not been a problem, but that the promotion might not suit every production. “Will it interfere with the show?” he said. “Yeah, that is one of the things that is open for discussion.”

About 8.5 percent of audience members have been sending text messages in the 14 contests that the production has done so far, but organizers expect participation to reach 10 percent.

For a similar promotion with a tour of the rock-oriented theatrical production Blue Man Group, an average of 16 percent of audience members sent text messages, Mr. Bazadona said.

In a tour that covered 60 cities in 90 days, about 50,000 people sent text messages. “This means that each night, 16 percent of the house is leaving the theater with Blue Man Group somehow represented on their mobile phone,” Mr. Bazadona said.

At the Eugene O’Neill Theater that afternoon, the two students were enjoying their behind-the-scenes access when Stephen Spinella, who plays several characters in the musical, strode onto the stage on his way out of the theater. He asked Ms. Mitchell what she had done to win the contest.

“I texted,” she replied. “One of my favorite things.”

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