Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Hills Are Alive with the Sounds of Pre-engagement.

In the midst of giving a seminar in London to the very bright folks at HSBC, I came across a fascinating use of pre-engagement. For those not at the seminar, pre-engagement is one of the three key elements for building brand trust, by creating an emotional connection with the consumer before the consumer engages your product of service.

The example at hand pertains to the search for the star of the new Andrew Lloyd Webber production of “The Sound of Music.” Apparently, after being dissed by Scarlett Johansson for the lead, Lloyd Webber decided to let the audience decide. A national invitation went out and people flocked to the audition for the chance to be the next Maria. The promotion for the contest is hilarious; it begins with a Julie Andrews look-alike on top of a Swiss mountain singing the movie's titular song, then pulls back further to reveal another look-alike also singing, then another and another, until the mountaintop is filled with singing nuns. Then the fun begins, as they push each other, rip off wigs…you get the picture. I had to leave Europe before the first vote (using the American Idol format, including a charge for call-in). But my guess is that this brilliant idea will drive both pre-revenue polling sales as well as box office advances.

This is pre-engagement all the way;

1) National awareness of the play begins even before production,

2) Contest elicits conversation among potential theatergoers

3) Act of voting (calling in choice) generates a pre-commitment to see the show

4) Win-Win: You go to the show to see the person you voted for or go to the show to see why they chose the person you didn’t vote for.

Here's a link to the website for the BBC show, where you can see who's been eliminated or even enter to win tickets to the winning Maria's debut performance:


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