Tag Archives: Advertising

Port Ads Create Advertising Beef and Buzz at Utah State Fair

15 Nov

A cracker stacking contest at the Utah State Fair.

Attendance was down but revenues were up at this year’s Utah State Fair, Sept. 9-19. Attendance was 292,000, compared to 310,000 last year, said Denise Allen, marketing and PR director.

“But as far as revenues, they were up,” she said, noting that overall fair revenues were up 7 percent across the board.

Part of that increase came from the decision by officials to raise gate admission $1 to $9 for adults. The move raised an additional six percent in gate revenues over last year, Allen said.

But the revenue boosts were eclipsed by a series of high profile ads featuring a sultry soul singer crooning his love for funnel cakes and pork products.

The ads were created by Utah native son Jared Hess, director of the quirky 2004 sleeper hit film “Napoleon Dynamite.” Hess made two television ads for the fair that some found to be over the top. The fair’s board of directors made the decision to pull the ads.

The ads cost $18,000 to make, Allen said. They can be viewed on YouTube by typing in “Utah State Fair ads.”

After three or four days, the board of directors pulled the ads and now has a new rule that board members must approve television advertising, Allen said. Marketing officials took an advertising spot from 2008 and adjusted the art card with the dates at the end and ran it in place of the Hess-produced commercials.

The fair received additional publicity from pulling the ads. “They say any publicity is good publicity,” Allen said.

A few people e-mailed in to say they would not be attending the fair because of the odd ads, while officials got more feedback in favor of the spots.

“It did its job in attracting the younger demographic and, surprisingly, had support from seniors,” Allen said. “Many seniors found it very entertaining.”

Hess also benefited from the controversy and was hired to direct a Toyota commercial because of it, Allen said.

Fair officials also had to deal with a major management change: former GM Rick Frenette left in February to return to his home state of Wisconsin and helm the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis. Judy Duncombe, a 26-year Utah State Fair veteran and most recently assistant general manager, is serving as acting general manager, Allen said. The board is looking for a full time manager to fill the position.

The implementation of a new ticketing system was well under way prior to Frenette’s departure, Allen said. “It’s been in the works for three years. Finally, we had it in the budget to go to a ticketing system that did a scan.”

Fair officials researched three ticketing systems and chose 1-800-Tickets, Allen said.

In addition to traditional media, the Utah State Fair also had a presence on Facebook and Twitter and used ticket contests not only to drive fairgoers to Facebook, but also to the fair’s website, where they could find the answers to the questions.

The marketing budget for the $1 million fair was $250,000, while the entertainment budget was $350,000, Allen said. One paid concert in the 4,000-seat DIRECTV Grandstand – a new sponsorship for the fair – was MercyMe, a ticketed event costing $25 that also included gate admission.

Austin, Texas-based Mighty Thomas Carnival placed 30 rides on the midway. Pay one price wristbands could be purchased daily for $25.

Next year’s dates are Sept. 8-18. – Mary Wade Burnside

Interviewed for this article: Denise Allen, (801) 538-8400.



Airwave Wars: Getting Votes vs. Selling Tickets

15 Jun

As television spot prices skyrocket during election season, arenas have taken a creative stance in promoting events.

“Every year, whether it’s election season, television sweeps or the Oscars, we are trying to be creative in working around certain events,” said Jamie Loeb, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based Nederlander Concerts.

When 30-second television spots are sold out, the company will consider 15-second spots. With radio advertising, Nederlander will substitute a 10-second sponsorship for a 60-second spot.

If network television is not available, cable is utilized. “For a recent Scorpions concert in Sacramento, network television was sold out. We looked at the audience for this show and found advertising opportunities at ESPN and Spike TV,” Loeb said. “Finding alternative promotional outlets takes time, but it’s a matter of doing your homework.”

Unlike election ads, which are geared toward massive and broad audiences, marketing specific events or shows is more targeted and niche oriented.

“Part of the skill or art of marketing concerts and performances is about determining who the potential audience is,” Loeb said. “We can correlate various events, like fans of the Scorpions and NASCAR, [where there may be a lot of overlap].”

Supply and demand determine advertising cost, and if a medium is sold out, then bump rates apply.

“It’s hard to estimate the price increases during an election period,” Loeb said. “It varies from network to cable, station to station, media to media.” He estimated a network spot can be 10 times more costly during the election season, but a cable spot may cost the same regardless of the time period.

The BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., has benefited from strong relationships with station representatives, who keep the venue’s marketing department apprised when inventory may be tight.

“Placing orders early is a challenge, because we find out about a show and place media a week before the performance,” said Paige Laughlin, the BOK Center’s director of marketing. “We depend on representatives and promotional departments to get extra mentions and value whenever possible.”

In Tulsa, television spot inventory is highly dependent on what political office is up for a vote and how many candidates are in each race.

“It would be difficult to estimate the percentage increase of television spots during political races,” Laughlin said. “Fortunately, the price hasn’t been so high that we’ve had to find an alternative medium to promote our shows.”

For Dallas’ American Airlines Center, it is the governor’s race that has presented the biggest issues with television time.

“Our governor’s race was heated this year, and we were bumped for political candidate ads,” said Melissa Mezger, American Airlines Center’s director of marketing. “It is usually not this bad. We know it’s coming, but there’s not a lot we can do about it except plan ahead.”

Predicting the upcoming shortage of television spots, the center’s staff planned many of its promotions early this year, securing prices and times before rates jumped.

“When we were priced out of the television market for our other shows, we cut those ads and focused on radio and online promotions,” Mezger said. “This only happened with a couple of our shows. Since we didn’t have a runoff, the political season was cut short.”

Mezger estimated television spot prices jump between 25 and 50 percent during political races.

Because promotions are considered a trade-out in terms of pricing, arenas can lose these freebies, in addition to air time, during the political season.

“Typically, if we do a buy on stations, we require them to do a giveaway, which shows up as a free promotion,” Mezger said. “During political races, we lose our promotions because stations can’t offer the same package to political candidates. So we lose airtime along with the promotions that go with it.”

Mezger estimates television stations provide between 15 and 20 free spots as part of a promotional campaign.

“If we can get placement before rates jump, we’re good,” Mezger said. “Our reps are great about reminding us early that the season is coming.” — Lisa White

Interviewed for this article: Paige Laughlin, (918) 894-4200; Jamie Loeb, (323) 468-1700; Melissa Mezger, (214) 665-4218

Twitter Ad Platform Could Be Game Changer For Events Marketing

17 Apr

After much speculation, Twitter took its first step toward monetization Tuesday with the announcement of a new advertising platform for a handful of national companies.

The social networking site has become a hit for a group of early-adopters in the venue industry, who use Twitter to announce shows, build buzz and gain feedback from their customers. Twitter’s announcement that advertisers can pay for prioritized tweets and appear at the top of search results leave many wondering whether the new paradigm will fundamentally change Twitter, and whether venues and event promoters will buy in.

“To me, the whole premise is that you build a personal connection on Twitter, which is missing from a lot of the other sites,” said Iain Bluett with regional ticketing firm TicketAlternative, a frequent user of Twitter. His posts for @iainbluett covers everything from Atlanta buzz bands to iPhone replacement parts.

“I think this community will push back on spam and ads more than any other medium,” Bluett said. “Especially the hardcore, dedicated Twitter followers.”

Street cred aside, Bluett admits the advertising possibilities for a promoter, especially a national firm like Live Nation or AEG Live, are endless. Searches for artists like Madonna on Twitter could pull up links to ticketing sites. Trade shows, music festivals, county fairs and other large events have begun to organize group Tweets using hashtags. Search #Coachella2010 and dozens of returns will pull up for each day, as fans discuss the upcoming festival, which launches Friday in Indio, Calif. By the time the show opens, thousands of fans will be using the Coachella hashtag. That could be a popular audience for an advertiser wanting to delve into the music space.

“The conversation is still the most important part of social media,” said Tonya Hall, CEO and Founder of social networking agency Barzhini. “On Twitter, even the ads will need to be informational, or users will ignore the content.”

Twitter’s new advertising platform allows buyers to purchase key search terms, and then return the results with their brand at the top of the list. Search “coffee” on Twitter, and Starbucks will appear as the first search result, with a denotation that the listing is a paid advertisement, or Promoted Tweet as the social network is calling it. Best Buy and Virgin Airlines are also piloting the system.

“I think it’s a pretty cool idea. Imagine the possibilities for a venue if someone typed in ‘Nine Inch Nails’ and we were hosting one of their concerts,” said Matt Johnson, webmaster for Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.

Johnson and his Social Media Specialist Paul Hooper said the real test will come when Twitter utilizes location-based analytics for targeting ads.

“It really depends on how detailed they allow you to get,” Hooper said. “Facebook allows you to get into specific details, pick cities and even pick a radius around the city. You can pick how many people you’re hitting, their age groups and what they have on their profile. If we’re allowed to target certain audiences on Twitter, it could be good for us.”

Johnson and Hooper said they’re impressed with the small amount of money they’ve invested into Facebook advertising. Johnson said his campus spent about $500 on a Facebook ad for a recent five-show run of Avenue Q and he’s convinced that the 150 walk-up tickets sold were a result of social network marketing.

“Typically our walkup business for a musical is five to 10 tickets,” per show, Johnson said.

But for the promotion to work on Twitter, Johnson said he would want to target users who either identified themselves as living near Lexington, or the GPS-feature in their smart phone shows they’re near the University of Kentucky campus.

That type of innovation is only weeks, if not days away. Today, Twitter’s Evan William announced that Twitter users will have the option of geo-tagging their posts and see nearby users also posting to Twitter, possibly on a real-time map.

“It’s a shot across the bow for companies like Four Square,” said Alf Lamont of The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, Calif. “For venues in particular, (location-based software) is where it’s at.”

Lamont said his club gives free tickets to anyone who “checks in” to Four Square, a social networking site, when they arrive at the Comedy Store. Four Square uses the GPS in a user’s smart phone to broadcast a user’s location to his followers on Facebook and Twitter.

“So if you’re telling your entire network that you’re at the Comedy Store, that’s the best type of advertising possible and we will reward you with free tickets,” said Lamont.

As for blowback from Twitter users against the new advertising platform, Lamont said most early adopters understand that Twitter needs to make money to continue to exist.

“And regardless how much you pay Twitter for positioning, a retweet by someone with one million followers is worth more than an ad that hits 500 people,” he said.

Interviewed for this article: Iain Bluett, (404) 394-3446; Tonya Hall, (719) 210-9507; Matt Johnson and Paul Hooper, (859) 233-4567; Alf Lamont, (323) 650-0150