Do some Edinburgh Fringe acts screw themselves by advertising their shows?

Street art at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012

Street art at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 probably told a home truth beyond the prevailing weather

Yesterday, I took part in a recording by Simon Caine, he of the Ask The Industry podcast. It is online HERE.

It was nominally about comedy awards at the Edinburgh Fringe and the participants were Steve Bennett (Chortle Student Awards), Kate Copstick (Malcolm Hardees and formerly Perriers), Bruce Dessau (Malcolm Hardees and formerly Perriers), Barry Ferns (the Barrys), Hils Jago (the Amused Mooses) and me (the Malcolm Hardees).

It turned into a discussion of the Edinburgh Fringe in general and I did not contribute much, but one thing I did mention was the giant show posters which appear all over Edinburgh during August. My point was this…

Sometimes in London you see massive posters in prime roadside sites and on the tube promoting TV programmes.

These are NOT paid for from the budget of the TV station’s Promotion Dept which publicises programmes. They are paid for by the TV station’s Marketing Dept which is responsible for selling the station itself to advertisers.

The primary object of these ads is NOT to increase the audience of the TV show being advertised. The object of these posters is to let advertisers know that the TV station is a successful, confident, currently buzzing one and that they are prepared to spend big money on promoting their programmes in prime sites and that, therefore, the station itself is a good place for an advertising agency to pay for positioning ads for their clients.

The target audience is not the punters. It is the advertising industry itself.

In the same way, massive street ads at the Edinburgh Fringe promoting shows are pretty certainly not a financially sensible way to get extra bums-on-seats.

Balancing the cost of the advertising against the number of extra punters likely to buy tickets, these massive ads probably each lose the act a lot of money.

These big ads have two main purposes. One is to say to the media – press, TV and radio – that some promoter, manager or agency has sufficient confidence in this particular act that they are prepared to splash out on this big publicity. And, more important, these posters show which promoters, managers or agencies are the alpha males in the Fringe jungle.

In effect, the promoters, managers or agencies tell their acts that these giant ads will ‘big up’ both them and their show. But, in fact, the acts (because the performers are the ones actually paying) are forking out to publicise and ‘big up’ their own promoters, managers and agents.

There may be collateral publicity for the acts, but it makes no financial sense in terms of getting bums-on-seats for their shows.

A lesson in life at the Edinburgh Fringe.

You get screwed from all angles.

2 Comments

Filed under Ad industry, Comedy

2 responses to “Do some Edinburgh Fringe acts screw themselves by advertising their shows?

  1. Absolutely spot on…
    And when you see massive posters for a Free show you know that it is 100% wasted money. It’s not even promoting their big agent or producer, because they dont have one!

    Comedians are supposed to be creative. So be creative with your money. Next year im really going to release them piglets down the Cowgate…

  2. Very good point. Had never thought of it that way.

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