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Ticketmaster Chooses Ad Dollars Over Fans
By: Tom Roarty
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With the rising price of tickets, concerts are already a luxury item, but with added service charges and fees, live events are becoming closer and closer to being priced out of their intended audience's means. However, for those who follow their favorite artists and save the funds needed to cover all the costs associated for their tickets, are these people really getting a fair shake when it comes to actually obtaining tickets? The short answer is no, and for those that need to blame someone for this, Ticketmaster is a good place to start.
At inception, the idea of Ticketmaster was a good one. A one-stop service that would help calculate, promote, and sell tickets for a variety events through phone, web, or over the counter in exchange for a small fee. Over time, that fee has grown. As an example (from Wikipedia), typical markup, as seen on Ticketmaster.com, on a ticket to see the Cincinnati Cyclones play at US Bank Arena in February 2011 costs $13. In addition to this, Ticketmaster has a fee of $4.05 for processing, $2.50 for the ability to print your own ticket, and a $4.35 convenience charge for a total of $10.90, which is 84% of the ticket's original price.
Reluctantly, the public has accepted Ticketmaster's fees over the years, but now the service is again rattling cages with their corporate partnerships. The root of the problem is that pre-sale tickets are being offered to clients of chosen banking institutions as a reward for their patronage. Because of this, shows are selling out before fans have a chance to purchase tickets. From an advertising standpoint, the ability to pre-sell tickets is brilliant. It offers the chance to give something no one else can, which is the ultimate payoff. However, from a fan's perspective, there is a jaded feeling due to this unfair advantage.
Of course, the advertising creative in me says the solution is simple: Change banks and have the opportunity to become eligible for the tickets as well. But the rest of me knows this is still not a fair practice. If Ticketmaster was in a truly competitive market, which they are not, and wanted to offer their cut of tickets to pre-sale clients, that would be a different story, but what they are currently doing is giving preferential treatment with disregard of the rules they set in place. If you advertise that tickets go on sale Monday, you cannot start selling them the previous Thursday to your corporate sponsors, to the point where there is nothing left for the general public when tickets are supposed to be available.
Personally, I am not sure if I am more upset at the thought of not being able to have a fair shot of seeing the shows I want or the unethical use of advertising dollars. Advertising is an evolving world, and advertising professionals need to be responsible in their campaign ideas. If you want to concept a campaign that gives your client the ability to offer special treatment to its users, that is a very valuable service, but doing so at the cost of the population majority can be detrimental to your client's business growth over time. As Ticketmaster's disapproval continues to mount, one has to ask: how long will it be before their greed leads to their downfall?

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