Last year I started an adventure with my Mexican theatre company in London. We decided to produce “Faustaff, or the mockery of the soul” a play I wrote two years ago, in both Mexico City and in London, to be staged simultaneously. The purpose of the experiment was to promote a cultural exchange between Mexico and the UK, in the midst of “the year of the UK in Mexico and the year of Mexico in the UK”, an agreement between the two countries, which sought to strengthen the economic, academic and cultural ties between both nations. My company and I, looking to meet the criteria of this agreement, decided to take a British director to Mexico, to direct a Mexican cast, and then bring a Mexican director to London, to direct a British cast. Both artists would be working with the same play but they could do whatever they wanted with it.
Advertising for Faustaff
Crossing the Atlantic was not new to us, as a Mexican theatre company. The year before we did a play in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the most important theatre fringe festivals in the world and therefore, one of the most competitive. Imagine having a play competing with another 140 a day and a total of 2000 shows (roughly) a month! After an exhausting 8 months of planning everything was set, except for the marketing campaign, a bad move when trying to sell a play amongst 140. The end result was sadly obvious and we therefore understood that, for our next international project, hiring a UK advertising agency needed to be a priority.
The year after, we started with the Faustaff project. Besides finding a theatre and casting the actors, we began our marketing strategy with PRM, a successful London marketing agency, at an early stage of the project. The first step consisted in getting in touch with as many London-based international associations, such as the Mexican embassy in London, The Anglo Mexican foundation, The British Council and others alike. Not all of them were able to participate in the project because their budgets had been allocated the year before. However, some of them did participate by distributing the play amongst their contacts and on their website. The Mexican embassy was particularly helpful in this and they received the project with open arms. They were even kind enough to pay for the flight tickets.
While this was happening, our designer in Mexico started working on a webpage that would shelter both projects. Weekly content was uploaded, with the latest news about the project, photos and videos of our rehearsals amongst other materials to help out with our online advertising. I cannot stress out how important it is for an arts project to have a website, consider it to be your presentation card, as you will be using consumer patterns to direct all of your potential audience to it, therefore, it must be well fed, with enough information about your show and with an attractive layout. Also, it is worth to pay for a domain, even if it’s just temporary, they are quite cheap and they will assure you that your website will be amongst the top results of the search engines, perhaps not at the very top but at least in the first page.
Our second step was setting up a trailer of the play. Needless to say, this is of the utmost importance, especially when trying to promote theatre. A few tips about making a video, though; keep it short and sweet, probably a 5-minute teaser is going to be way too long, so think of a trailer no longer than one minute and don’t reveal too much, you want to create as much suspense as possible. We tried a short bit of the story but we later came to realise that is far more effective to just have vignettes of dialogue and rely on the image as much as possible. Remember, the most important thing in your video is making the audience aware of the dates and times of the performance, information on the venue, and the name of the play, the rest is just to make it attractive.
There is so much more I’d like to write about this particular experience but I shall do so on my next post. I hope that you have found it useful, so far.
Contributor: Diego Sosa, Content Writer at PRM