Target Audience

Yesterday, as I was teaching a group of high school students our "Fine Art of Persuasion:  Television and Advertising" class at the Paley Center, my mind started to wander to Helen, as it often does these days. We were discussing who the "target audience" was for this commercial:

In case you are wondering what we determined:  Caucasian, upper class, suburban boys, ages 7-14 and their Anti-Communist parents.

For those of you who aren't in the Advertising field, or haven't taught, "The Fine Art of Persuasion..." two hundred times like I have in the past four years, a "target audience" is the primary group of people that an advertising campaign is aimed at appealing to.  After putting all of us into categories based on the census, those shrewd and savvy ads agencies sit around for hours determining which demographics they want to target their product, political candidate or message to.

And so do Broadway producers.  And while I believe it is death to approach the creation of a piece of art with the sole intention of pleasing a specific demographic, I also think it is naivety not to have it somewhere in the back of your mind.  Because, if like me, you end up launching the project, developing the project and promoting the project, you better know darn well who might be interested in your show.

Naturally,  I have given Helen's target audience a lot of thought lately.  As the head of Helen's Marketing Department, my market research findings have shown to be very promising.  Here's my bullet-point list of potential Helen "audiences:"

  • Families:  kids, parents and grandparents.
  • Parents from NY, NJ and tourists looking for a show that they can take the whole family to, but that won't be painful to sit through for two hours--a show that speaks to both them and their kids.
  • Music theatre lovers.  
  • Smart, bookish, literary types who read the New Yorker.
  • Theatre lovers or academics who feel drawn to classical theatre (Greek, Shakespeare, etc.) and "smart" material.
  • Single parents struggling to raise children on their own.
  • Children who are being raised by single parents and divorced parents.
  • Adults who were raised by single moms.
  • New-Agey types who like to delve into existential questions.
  • Tween girls who love musical theatre and are obsessed with "High School Musical" and "Glee," and who have done Annie at least once.
  • Tween boys and girls who have read all of the Percy Jackson books.
  • Music teachers, drama teachers, classroom teachers, anyone who has ever worked with kids.
  • Suburban New Jersey families who have already seen Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Billy Elliot and The Addams Family and who would like to see something family oriented that's fresh, substantial and original.

And the best thing about these audiences? I know them really, really well.  They are my friends, my family, my students, my peers and colleagues in the business, my peers and colleagues who aren't remotely in the business, the teachers I have worked with across the country, and the parents of half of my cast who are as invested in Helen's development as I am. 

Well, what do you know?  I have just hired the best head of Helen's Marketing and PR department that I could possibly ask for-- me.

Finally, the point of me spelling all this out for those of you who haven't had a sneak peek at Helen yet, is that I hope you will keep us on your "potential shows to invest in" list.

So, here's my pitch:  "Write this check like you are never going to see it again."  (That's what all the producing books I read this summer tell you to inform your potential investors.)  I can't promise a return or a profit, but I can promise that you will get to be a part of a very special show that has been built from the ground up, organically, in a hands-on fashion by two talented people who love theatre and believe in their story and who feel fairly certain that their story (both on and off the stage) will resonate with a very broad target audience. 

Oh, and if you invest in the next 10 minutes, I'll throw in a ShamWow absolutely free!