The Playgoer: MTC's Big Buy

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

MTC's Big Buy

So I'm up early today and I decide to tune into "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, and what do I see a commercial for? Manhattan Theatre Club!  No, not one of those 15-second blips at the end of the commercial-reel that stations reserve for cheap local ads.  A proper 30-second glossy spot that I assume is going out nationally--or at least on the East Coast (6-6:30am time slot), or just the greater metro area if that's possible.

I can't find any video online yet to post, but basically it's Cynthia Nixon telling us all how wonderful MTC is. Yes, also a plug for her star turn in Wit, but that's just mentioned along the way. (And, no, she's not bald in this one.)

Why do I find this at all interesting? Well, it seems pretty unprecedented--a nonprofit theatre company spending BIG bucks on a nationally broadcast cable news show to basically advertise its brand. (Using Nixon and Wit as a hook, their latest "product.") I don't believe the word "subscribe" is ever used, but, hey, it is almost spring, which means subscription time. While there is no 2012-2013 season yet, titles of past greatest hits (Proof! Rabbit Hole!) flash across the screen. And the "copy" is all about how you can always count on a fabulous night out at the theatre there, with lots of shots of the "Samuel Friedman Theatre" lit up on the Great White Way. (No mentioned of the subterranean Stages 1 & 2.)

But if this is a national spot it may not even be about subscriptions. It's aimed at tourists, closing with a line something like: "MTC: as exciting as New York itself!" (No comment.) Competing for Broadway consumers, basically.

So I guess I have to admire their balls, at least. 'Cause that sure must cost a lot of their precious funds.

(Anyone know how much, by the way?)


Jack Worthing said...

Are you sure this was a 30-second spot? I'm looking for it online, and only finding 15-second spots.

Anonymous said...

It's not necessarily national or even East-Coast. Just as local broadcast affiliates sell some ads on national network broadcasts, cable (and satellite) companies keep a certain portion of the inventory on cable shows. So the ad could have been targeted even to certain neighborhoods or boroughs, or be city-wide, but did not necessarily need to be national or anything like it.

So it's hard to guess how much it cost, but when I was working in Seattle, a 15- or 30-second spot on a national cable news show could be had for the hundreds of dollars. More for Morning Joe in NYC, obviously, but still conceivably within a normal marketing budget.