Coattail Advertising: Good Or Bad?

Brian Sacawa posted an intriguing piece at his Sound Directions blog on 5/4/2010 about a Cleveland Orchestra radio spot for a Carmina Burana performance that ties directly into the Cleveland Cavaliers playoff bid. Sacawa wonders if this sort of coattail advertisement is ultimately worthwhile via a thorough and thought provoking piece…

Granted, it can be all too easy to get wrapped up in details with this topic. I recall having an email based conversation about all of this with a consulting colleague who works in the for profit world and after several exchanges, the consensus settled around this:

  • So long as you can benefit in a one off bump in sales, the ad time/space is free or next to nothing, and you don’t have to spend more than an hour putting it together, run with it.
  • Anything else is a counterproductive time drain.

Sacawa’s article made me think of something I posted here back in 2005 about the Chicago Symphony hanging a banner on the front of the building congratulating the Chicago White Sox for winning the World Series. After reading through the comments, it seems those readers had a similar outlook as that above. But I’m curious to know what folks in the business think now in the era of the economic downturn.

As an amusing anecdote, that White Sox/Chicago Symphony blog post continues to be one the most visited posts at Adaptistration due mostly to it being picked up at a few well traveled White Sox discussion boards. Interestingly enough, one board produced a fascinating discussion whereas the other quickly adopted the “if you aren’t 100% pro-Sox, you suck and everything you do sucks.” To this day, I continue to get random pieces of hate mail littered stemming from that same discussion board post.

If nothing else, Sox fans are passionate fans. It makes me wonder what the business would be like if orchestra patrons had that much fervor…

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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