Sara Fitzpatrick is the Director of Interactive for SpotCo, a leading full-service entertainment advertising and branding agency, working with Broadway and film productions to oversee the development and strategy of their interactive operations. We last spoke to her about the 'State of Broadway on the Web' back in 2010 so with two years having gone quickly by -- it seemed the perfect time to check back in for her latest take.
We last spoke back in early 2010, what have been the biggest changes in the online theatre world since then?
I'd say the biggest change I've seen since 2010 is the increased significance online has played in the overall strategy of marketing a show. When I started working in digital advertising for Broadway, the interactive component was viewed as a completely separate piece of the campaign. Print, TV, radio, outdoor launched and worked together and then the online media was layered on top. Over the last few years, and particularly within the last year, online has become a integral part to successfully launching and selling a show. Direct mail and outdoor advertising almost always include QR codes linking to online video content. When evaluating a television commercial buy, it would not go without extending to online portals such as YouTube and Hulu. And shows like The Pee-Wee Herman Show and Evita are launching with pre-sales to fan bases directly through social media. As the interaction and demand for online materials has grown, we've continued to evolve our advertising approach to meet those changes.
What show web sites are you currently working on?
Once, Evita, Ghost, Chicago, One Man Two Guvnors, Porgy & Bess, Priscilla, Sister Act and Venus in Fur.
One of the big things we've been seeing more and more of here is taking fans further 'inside', so there won't just be a release of photos, but behind the scenes videos of the photo shoots, etc. What do you think sparked this trend?
Before a consumer makes a ticket purchase decision, they want to sample and understand what they are buying. The trend was really sparked by the demand. Videos of the cast interviews, rehearsal footage, and backstage peeks give a look into the world of the show and a sense of the experience you will have when you come.
GHOST was the first show to present the songs from the show in a Facebook streamed, 'big' way, filmed at the Broadway theatre - how did that idea come about?
Colin Ingram, the show's producer, came to us with this concept that he had developed and used to launch Ghost in London. He wanted to give the fans the first look. They filmed a live recording of the music at Abbey Road and streamed it to Facebook fans for one day during 3 one hour sessions. When the show was coming to New York, we created a plan to mimic the success of that campaign but tailored for Broadway.
How was the success measured? Will we see more of these vs. traditional rehearsal room performances?
We looked at the obvious indicators such as video views, fan growth and site traffic, as well as, less direct stats such as online conversation trends and potential social media reach. We were very happy with the reach of the campaign which performed significantly better than the standard rehearsal video. So my assumption would be yes, we'll continue to see more of these customized events.
Social Media is obviously something that continues to grow and grow, how do you make the decision on what new social networks to embrace and focus the most attention on?
It seems every morning I wake up, a new social media platform has launched. It's a lot to keep up with and there are certainly too many to give a Broadway show presence in them all. When a production is launching we look at the audience demographic, the tone of the show, and the availability of materials. We will always build a presence in the standard places i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and then decide where else to go based on those factors. A perfect example is our Instagram campaign for Once the Musical. The show taps right into the universal story of love. And Instagram is a platform that feeds nostalgia. It gives the audience a way to not just see the show, but connect with its theme in a deeper way by sharing visual memories.