Since 2009, full-service advertising and marketing agency The Pekoe Group has specialized in promoting Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Founder and CEO Amanda Pekoe leads a team of more than 20 young professionals who create, develop and execute all aspects of theater campaigns from designing posters, websites and social media campaigns to New York City street advertising and live events.
Formerly an off-Broadway performer herself, Pekoe exited the stage to work behind the scenes, earning a graduate degree in performing arts management, producing small productions in downtown New York on her own and working as a joint partner in a small interactive agency for the arts.
Since its founding, The Pekoe Group has helped many shows build followings and excite theater goers, including the Tony Award-nominated show Rock of Ages. During the promotion of this show, The Pekoe Group set a Guinness World Record for the largest air-guitar ensemble in a theater. Here, Pekoe discusses the details of catering to theatrical clients and tells PPB how she uses promotional products to drive ticket sales and attract enthusiastic fans.
PPB What is different about marketing and promotion in the Broadway and off-Broadway arenas as opposed to more general forms of marketing?
Pekoe One major difference is the stakes; 80 percent of shows never recoup their investment. A show has to be selling nearly at capacity from opening night in order to be a success. We create huge levels of excitement and anticipation before the show opens, and we do it without any brand loyalty. Picture trying to build the excitement equivalent to a new iPhone release, only no one has ever heard of the product or seen it—that’s what we do.
PPB What are some shows you have helped promote?
Pekoe The Pekoe Group has been the agency of record for many shows, including the Tony-nominated Rock of Ages, Freud’s Last Session, Emotional Creature, Second Stage Theatre, Mint Theater Company, TACT and the soon to open I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan. Additionally, our design work has been used by the development departments of Lincoln Center Theater’s Young Angels and The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
PPB Can you recount some memorable campaigns you’ve created using imprinted products?
Pekoe For Rock of Ages, we had a ton of LED “lighters” that we gave out to audience members for use during the show. Another successful campaign used a heat-sensitive magic eight-ball flyer for Ripleys Believe it or Not! Times Square.
PPB Do you have suggestions for industry practitioners, such as ways they could improve or be more useful to you?
Pekoe A fabulous promotional product idea used on Broadway—but also appropriate in other marketing—is a hand-held paper street fan. Here’s why: It is highly visible and people will want to use it immediately—especially at an outdoor event. Lots of shows use these, and CHICAGO often hands them out in the summertime heat in Times Square. In hot weather, you can see floods of people walking through Manhattan fanning themselves with fans that have the show’s art all over them.
Another example is a button. We used them on FREUD’S LAST SESSION in New York City, Chicago and Santa Monica. They said “I Had A Session With Freud. FreudsLastSession.com.” We would see people wearing them on their backpacks and jackets. It was a great conversation-starter and advertisement for the show.
The best word of mouth is the refrigerator magnet. When company comes over and sees it, they will ask about the show and if it is recommended. You just can’t beat that.