The New York Times recently reported that cell phones were being used in a promotion during a Saturday matinee of Spring Awakening, a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. While audience members are usually advised to turn off their phones before a performance, at this show, they were asked otherwise.
Fliers inserted into the Playbill read "Win Your Chance to Come Backstage!" instructing viewers to text message "bdway spring" to a five-digit number before the end of intermission.
The play's producers were hoping to attract more audiences through this form of mobile marketing. Sixty-two people in the audience that day sent in text messages, which included data such as their contacts number and e-mail addresses - all information that went into a system that will be used to pitch Broadway tickets and other promotions in the future.
Why does it matter?
Brand marketers today need to incorporate as many marketing components as possible, including mobile marketing.
Robert Thurner, commercial director for London-based mobile marketing agency Incentivated, says that the use of mobile for marketing and promotions has gone up significantly.
Mobile offers instant gratification, he notes. "If you [want to] enter a competition or simply find information about your nearest dealer, you can do so using your phone," Thurner says.
In the US, mobile marketing first truly debuted with American Idol, where people were asked to vote using their phones. "It's allowed people to understand quickly and easily how they can use their phone to interact with a TV program," Thurner notes. They became aware of the phone as a multifaceted device.
While the US mobile marketing space is small relative to the UK, efforts like the Spring Awakening campaign are increasing.
PR companies, along with their clients, need to understand that mobile is the shortcut which allows them to communicate directly, face-to-face with their consumers, says Thurner.
1 According to the Times article, about 8.5% of audience members have been sending text messages in the 14 contests that the production has held so far.
2 The Blue Man Group did a similar promotion in a tour that covered 60 cities in 90 days, resulting in 50,000 people sending text messages.
3 According to Incentivated's Robert Thurner, in December 2006 alone, there were close to 19 billion text messages sent in the US.
4 The nearly 19 billion text messages sent is nearly double the amount - 9.7 billion - that were sent the previous December, according to CTIA.
5 There are 232 million people who own cell phones in the US, and 50% of the 232 million handsets are Internet-enabled.