Case Study: Blackbird Theatre presents Waiting for Godot
Blackbird Theatre is Vancouver’s foremost presenter of classical theatre. To date, the company has mounted critic and audience acclaimed works by some of history’s greatest playwrights, including Pinter, Ibsen, Euripides, Schiller, and more. In the company’s short, seven-year lifetime they have been nominated for 27 Jessie Awards (six of which were for their almost-legendary 2009 production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and have twice won Outstanding Production: in 2007 for Peer Gynt and in 2008 for The Triumph of Love.
In 2011, the company set their sights on Beckett’s towering icon of a play Waiting for Godot. Directed by Blackbird Artistic Director John Wright, its cast would include Vancouver luminaries Simon Webb, Anthony F. Ingram, William Samples, Adam Henderson, and a young newcomer, Zander Constant.
Laura Murray Public Relations were hired to act as Blackbird Theatre’s “outsourced, in-house marketing team.” LMPR oversaw and implemented every element of the show’s publicity, marketing, design, and communications, down to the slightest minutiae. Our participation included, but was by no means limited to:
- Designing all visual materials & writing all copy
- Planning & booking an advertising buy
- Writing all press releases & conducting a media relations campaign
- Devising & implementing ‘guerrilla’ promotions & special events
- Overseeing all online marketing & social media activities
- Coordinating reviewer attendance
- Consulting on ticketing & monitoring sales
The challenge inherent in Waiting for Godot is that many audience members possess a negative bias against the challenging work. The campaign strategy, therefore, involved achieving a total market saturation that established Godot as a ‘must see’ production. The tone of the marketing placed emphasis on the brilliance and humor of the play, and on Blackbird’s remarkable past record of staging imaginative, entertaining productions of difficult work.
Previews and reviews were booked in all major Lower Mainland news outlets and community newspapers, including national coverage in the Globe and Mail. The advertising campaign achieved a tremendous street, media, and online presence, which resulted in a sense of the production being ‘everywhere.’
The strength of the campaign and utter brilliance of Blackbird’s staging resulted in a sell-out of the originally scheduled run. Blackbird Theatre were able to extend the production and play for an additional full week of near capacity houses.
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