NYC Opera: Too Hip by Half? Take My Marketing Challenge

Last week I got a curious brochure in the mail from the New York City Opera. This is the same group that lost its high profile French leader only months ago, and turned to New York's own forward-thinking George Steel to rescue the institution and redefine its mission.

It's also the same group that, according to an article in last week's The New York Times, "had raided its endowment of a total of $23.5
million to pay off debts and right the troubled company’s finances,
leaving little left in its coffers."

So anything new coming from the City Opera caught my attention as a harbinger of things to come. And indeed, this print brochure looked like something much more likely to come out of an Indie film festival (or a comic book store). In fact, it was so hip, one of my staff said, "Why did they do this in print at all? Why not just create a Web site?"


Indeed, they did create a Web site, and the URL in the brochure takes you to an amazingly creative and enjoyable video:


Now comes my challenge. Please do the following.

1. Click through and watch the video.
Don't click on any other links on the site.
3. Return to this blog, and click "comment" to tell me what *exactly* they are promoting.

Let's see what you come up with, and then in the next post, I'll give you my reaction.

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13 responses to “NYC Opera: Too Hip by Half? Take My Marketing Challenge

  1. I believe they are promoting a free opera composers’ event in May, though I’m not sure if it told you how to reserve your tickets.
    I did love the use of cartoon, music, and interviews.

  2. It’s all about shattering expectations as the primary message – which then leads us to this hip, fresh, intriguing free event with what looks to be young(ish) composers taking the lead.

  3. Aside from the annual VOX festival for new/experimental operas, NYC Opera is promoting creativity, discovery and engagement. (Laughing) Omigod…it’s free! Our organization would never “allow” devoting this level of creativity to promoting a free event. Do they have big sponsorships to support VOX? NYC Opera is definitely going outside the box in order to survive. I hope they have multiple success stories to tell this time next year.

  4. Very Hip!!! The video promotes an new opera compositions concerts that free taking place at New York University. Concert-goers must reserve their free tickets.

  5. Clearly, they’re promoting this special event called Vox 2009, with which I am not familiar. I get that the composers of the Opera’s 2009-2010 season will be previewed at the event. While I didn’t find out much about the event itself, I was very intrigued by the idea that this company is probably going to do a whole season of new operas. I’d go to see that!

  6. Two days of new opera. I get the feeling somehow that they are workshops rather than performances – don’t know where I get that idea from.

  7. I’ve attended the free Vox fest in that space, so I know what it’s been like in the past. To me, the vid is promoting composers’ visions of what opera is. Some of the composers seem to be countering prejudicial notions about opera. Apparently they are not worried about preaching to the choir, given that “traditional” notions of opera have been questioned and countered for a long time now. I guess they think they are speaking to new potential audiences who, when they think opera, think Wagner and Puccini on big stages with big sopranos.
    There is almost no singing in the vid so there is scant indication that there will be singing at the event (which there is).
    p.s. I really liked the last third of the video with the still cartoon-ish/ pointillistic portraits of each composer in the foreground in b/w, against a motion graphics background in color that evoked, I guess, the subjects / themes / images of the composers’ respective operas. I thought this visualization provided a compelling meta-experience of the otherwise rather non-compelling composer interview. I’m sure that this effect was helped by NOT having vocalization in the music cue for this section. The whole cartoon theme was OK but to me gratituitous and unmoored till this point in the video. My 11 cents.

  8. Unfortunately, one thing they are saying, at least when I visited, was “We don’t have enough bandwidth!” (Did anyone else experience lots of stops during playback?) Other than that, they’re promoting a cool event having to do with opera on May 1 & 2. But I can’t really give a fair evaluation, since I already knew what Vox was.

  9. I got bored watching and turned off half way thru. To me, it was a documentary interviewing the composers that compromised the making of the Vox, which was either a new season of operas or one particular performance.

  10. “Opera is’t an old stuffy art form, written by dead people that have nothing to do with me. And City Opera is the home of living, relevant composers.” – That’s the message I got.

  11. This was a compelling sell for contemporary opera, though not for the actual Vox event. But I think that may be the point. Vox is already well established, and it’s free, so the event does not really need promotion. Audiences need to be convinced that new operas and living composers are vital to the art form–whether or not they attend Vox 2009–and that’s where this video succeeds.

  12. Maybe we can all relax now?
    The whole exchange seemed more heat than light: actual event, blog text by Mr Carr, and readers’ various remarks appeared a bit storm-in-a-tea-cuppish, over on this side of the pond and, at times somewhat “sniffy”. Not the Big Apple I know and love.
    Can we call it quits and motor on now? Huh?
    With a friendly smile,

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