The Atmosphere Of Advertisements

I can’t count the times I’ve had discussions with folks in the business about the environment of concert halls; it’s cold, sterile, non inclusive, etc.


Everyone seems to realize that things needs to change on one level or another but there’s so much that’s entrenched in every nook and cranny it’s hard to see where all of the root problems reside.  But here’s a good example brought to my attention by Andrew Lindemann Malone which sheds some light on some of these harder to see areas :



“I’m a longtime reader of yours who is interested in the forthcoming atmosphere posts. This doesn’t involve technology, but I have always found the advertisements in the programs at the local House of Culture (D.C.’s Kennedy Center) to do an excellent job of indicating that those who are not rich should not be attending classical concerts.


The worst ad I saw in Playbill was one for windows. Its tagline was something like; For quality like this, you can settle for domestic caviar for a year.


I don’t know what the solution is – Houses of Culture certainly need whatever advertising monies they can get, but these advertisements aid in the creation of an unduly stuffy atmosphere.”


Andrew goes into even more detail in a blog he wrote, Cash Rules Everything Around The Kennedy Center, Too, which recounts a recent concert experience.  He lists several of the advertisements from the Playbill handed out to patrons at the Kennedy Center:



  • Three amazingly hot girls under the text “Three car payments. Three private colleges. Three weddings. I think I am having chest pains. How are we going to pay for all this? Invest? Invest in what? The market is more unpredictable than our daughters.” Maybe you should send these fine-ass women to public school, where I went, imaginary advertising hand-wringer.
  • Microsoft ad for “business without borders”
  • “There are two things in the world that last longer than time. Love is one of them” w/picture of a huge diamond. Because only by spending vast amounts of money on baubles can you show your S.O. that you truly care about and understand him or her.
  • “Q&A 5.0: The importance of truly customized investing.” Q&A 5.0? Did someone invent four previous versions of asking people questions and listening to answers, and then improve markedly on version 4? Also, the ad does not mention the truly Brobdingnagian amount of wealth you must have to make such customized investing cost-effective.
  • “The finest designer furs.” Self-explanatory.
  • “57 universities have us on their highlight reel.” Is it video of Lonny Baxter backing Mike Dunleavy towards the basket? No, it’s another capital management firm!
  • “Three unique restaurants walking distance from the Kennedy Center” [sic] all of which are expensive
  • Old Ebbitt Grill oysters ad (probably OK – oysters aren’t really out of most people’s price range)
  • Bistro Fran

    About Drew McManus

    "I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

    I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

    In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

    For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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