According to Huffington Post, London is the second best city in which to see live theatre. While visiting the home of the West End (London’s version of Broadway), I couldn’t help but see a few shows. I also couldn’t help talking to a theatre marketing professional.
I was introduced to Nic Greatrex, marketing manager at Disney Theatrical Group (DTG), through a mutual connection at DTG in New York. (Read some of the things I learned about the global brand of Disney’s “The Lion King” from that mutual connection here.) Nic worked on the marketing for “The Lion King” when it was on tour in the U.K., and he is currently working on its run in Switzerland, among his other responsibilities.
Promotion for the tour of “The Lion King” is set up in four different phases at Disney: on sale, build, re-launch and season. Each phase uses different marketing techniques that are unique to the public in the U.K.
Unlike in the United States, DTG will show a commercial for “The Lion King” tour in the cinema before a movie. There is also a heavy focus on radio and a decreased focus on television advertising.
“We like to use a lot of radio adverts on tour because we can showcase the sounds in the show,” Nic said.
One popular format of radio advertisement is called vox pop, where Disney grabs sound bites from audience members at opening night performances, then turn them into a commercial.
The theatre community in the U.K. also approaches social media much differently than the theatre community in the U.S., making it difficult to collaborate on content with the DTG team in New York. Nic said theatre communications in the U.K. is slowly becoming more digital, but it is still very focused on tradition: posters throughout the city and on public transport.
“We don’t like to re-share what New York has done; the tone is different,” Nic said. “We’re very serious here, but hopefully that will be changing.”
Nic said, “Switzerland is a testing ground for bigger markets.” The company is using promotion for the show in Switzerland as a sort of testing ground for public relations and marketing tactics it may use later on in different markets throughout Europe.
Disney recently gave Swiss journalists the opportunity to interact with “The Lion King” in a very physical way, teaching them how to use stilts to walk like the giraffes, how to play the drums like the musicians and how to put on makeup like the actors in the show. Nic always has a hand in press events like this, even though DTG uses different agencies to help promote its shows.
“We’re quite tight, PR wise,” he said. “We don’t let the local team do anything without us.”
By staying on top of local trends, monitoring competitors and testing out tactics in smaller markets, Nic and the Disney Theatrical Group marketing team are helping “The Lion King” sell out each night across Europe, solidifying the show as a global powerhouse.