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January 23, 2013
Alvin Ailey's Digital Dance
Modern dance is like olives. It’s an acquired taste. And in this socio-economic environment, dance troupes are underfunded, searching for new audiences, and competing for each and every discretionary entertainment dollar.
What’s a company to do?
Differentiate, target, and make it easy for customers and prospects to engage with dancers and dancing. That’s what the famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is doing by using digital media to expose their new Artistic Director, engage new audience members, and help tentative ticket buyers find the programs that might suit them best. It’s a trifecta performance that leverages promotion, apps, email, and search in concert.
The promotion starts with a simple compelling idea. Robert Battle, my friend and upstairs neighbor, is the new Artistic Director. He was selected by and replaced the legendary dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison last year and his influence and direction is first being felt at scale this season. So they start by using the news and awareness of the new face driving the company.
Next they target artistic sensibility. On a dedicated landing page, his image fronts four questions that assess a person’s interest, familiarity, experience, and tastes in dance and with the Alvin Ailey company. Prospects are instantly included and engaged and the conversation sidesteps questions about if you’ll go and jumps right to which performances will suit you best.
The answers to the questions are instantly mapped to four of the thirty-nine specific performances. Ideally “Robert” recommends programs that a person is most likely to enjoy. The interface is easy to use and graphically interesting. The whole experience takes 45 seconds. And the prospect then has a simple choice to make.
The five key lessons here are...
  • Understand the consumer mindset
  • Anticipate your audience needs
  • Take the message to those most likely to respond
  • Do the math for them
  • Make it easy and fast
It’s a muscular, agile, inventive, and bravura performance in a category that is often sleepy when it comes to digital marketing and innovative thinking.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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