Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stale Popcorn

I just read a Seth Godin post titled "Thoughts on Popcorn." He makes a great point, popcorn is low risk. It's cheap, and you're guaranteed to know what it's like. Theatre, on the other hand, is high risk. You can see 10 plays, and 1 is a good production. High ticket prices make this a bad investment, so we stop attending theatre. TV, like I've said before, is super low risk. You can watch an old favorite, or risk some time on a new show. If that new show is bad, change the channel. Easy, right? It's not that easy in theatre. You could walk out, but you just dropped $35 for you ticket and this is culture...

Seth challenges his readers to create things more like popcorn, at least in the beginning and with a larger commitment. Exactly. Theaters don't educate their subscribers about the shows, which is what generates the high risk unfamiliarity that popcorn doesn't have.

Here is a poster from a regional theater's marketing campaign:

It's a poster for Doubt, a John Patrick Shanley play. The play is about a nun questioning the intentions of a priest at her school. As a principal, she is power-hungry, and the priest charms his class. So...she claims that he's a pedophile. The poster misses the point. Yes, there is a nun. Yes, she's doubtful. But where is the rest?

Yes, I'm unsure of the plot, but I'm also unsure of the talent. Is it well-directed? Is there a powerhouse actor in the role of the nun? High risk!!! I know nothing about this play. I've seen Dallas theatre before, and it can be bad. So, I have every right to skip this play.

Who is going to see this play? People who already know the play. Afficianados that love the risk of theatre, or older people who find the film experience a little scary. People willing to drop $35 on a night of live entertainment.

The rest of us will watch TV with its low risk, or see a film at its low price.

So, inform your subscribers. Students don't have money, but they still waste it. I just dropped $60 on a DVD of Weeds Season 3 and a Blu-Ray of V for Vendetta. We'll support something we love. There is no reason for a student to not love your show, but you have to really sell it to them. Otherwise, you'll just have stale popcorn.

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