WNO brings its opera to the masses with live simulcast

To build awareness of opera in general, and the Washington National Opera (WNO) in particular, the WNO partnered with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to broadcast a Kennedy Center performance of La Bohme to a JumboTron screen on the National Mall in DC; at theaters in Silver Spring, MD, and Alexandria, VA; and to 31 high schools and universities and eight public housing facilities around the country.

To build awareness of opera in general, and the Washington National Opera (WNO) in particular, the WNO partnered with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to broadcast a Kennedy Center performance of La Bohme to a JumboTron screen on the National Mall in DC; at theaters in Silver Spring, MD, and Alexandria, VA; and to 31 high schools and universities and eight public housing facilities around the country.

Strategy

As a hook for media coverage, WNO and agency Powell Tate emphasized the expected record-breaking size of the audience for the simulcast, as well as the opportunity to bring opera to students who likely had never been to one before. They also pointed out the production's edgy interpretation. "Most classical arts are fighting the battle of awareness and accessibility, so we tried to combat that," says Steve Blair, WNO's director of marketing and audience services.

Tactics

Media outreach included national and local media, including print, radio, and online. Schools received local media lists and outreach materials they could customize for their own campuses and communities. E-mails and message boards were also employed to build interest, as well as a national radio tour featuring interviews with WNO representatives in DC. Cast members made available for feature stories emphasized the "young, fresh quality" of the opera.

Results


"All the schools... said the audience was very appreciative," says Blair. More than 25,000 people saw the simulcast, including 14,000 on the National Mall. Media hits included CNN, The Boston Globe, Washingtonian, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Washington Post. More than 900 radio stations ran an RNR, reaching more than 7 million listeners.

Future


The WNO plans to simulcast another performance, if not in the spring, then next fall, Blair notes.


PR team: Washington National Opera (Washington) and Powell Tate (Washington)

Campaign: Live Simulcast of La Bohme

Duration
: July to September 2007

Budget: $40,000

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