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#1 BalletNut

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 03:42 AM

While combing through the paper a few days ago, I came upon an ad for SF Ballet's 2001 Season. It showed a pose from The Prodigal Son, with the caption "Drinking. Debauchery. A Real Bible Story." Now, I understand the need for attracting younger audiences to the ballet, especially given that the average age of SFB's audience hovers around 60, give or take a few. However, an ad campaign like this, however well-intentioned, is not the way to go. I am not trying to speak for my whole generation, but, being fairly young myself, I found them an insult to my intelligence. It isn't the ads themselves that bother me, but the idea that the only way to attract young whippersnappers is to talk down to them. And, judging from what I hear, the marketing of ballet in this matter seems pretty widespread--Atlanta Ballet's pushing R&J by saying "two ballet dancers die, what more could you want?" springs to mind. Since when does young equal ignorant?

So, am I overreacting, or is this offensive to other people too?

#2 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 09:34 AM

BalletNut, I don't think you are overreacting at all! Those are both dreadful ads, from the sound of it, and I don't feel that is what is needed in order to attract the interest of the younger generation. Of course my exposure to young people is primarily with ballet students, but their level of knowledge and sophistication is generally far better than ours was at their age, and talking down to them is not the way to go.

#3 cargill

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 09:40 AM

I think add campaigns like that are very damaging, but also very typical. Here in New York, though, the recent add campaign (program covers, bus adds, etc.) have gone a different, almost worse route. The adds are soft focus shots of mainly unrecognizeable dancers doing anything but dancing. Little nymphets leaning passively, yet suggestively against a wall. And as someone pointed out, resolutely multicultural. The few minority dancers must spend all their time in photoshoots! It is hard to imagine anyone really enjoying ballet if they bought a ticket due to those adds. And of course Prodigal Son is so much richer than the add suggests--it is so unfair to the artists.

#4 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 09:41 AM

and the person at p.r. or wherever at boston ballet a few years ago that decided that the audience wouldn't understand a ballet called 'le corsaire' so titled it "the pirate" in advertisements with 'le corsaire' in parentheses.....

#5 ~A.C~

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 09:54 AM

If the younger generation really wanted ballet, this would not happen. Most young people aren't going to spend a Friday night with their friends at the ballet, are they? Trying to attract them with MTV or Hollywood styled ads is getting to be ridiculous. There is no need for this. If we just assume that these people are intelligent, as they probably are, then we can attract them with more classic adds. Lets see: What about an add with the original title of the ballet, with the company's name, and that actualy has a picture from the ballet?! Wouldn't that be wonderful? Posted Image

#6 Manhattnik

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 10:01 AM

I rather like those soft-focus Kolnik pictures for NYCB. I have his first poster, of Danna McBrearty and Eva Natanya (ethnically diverse?) backstage (I think) in their costumes for Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3, and I think they look beautiful. Angelic, even, While I think his recent one of dancers in costumes from Brahms-Schoenberg, with one in a pretty first postition in the bough of a tree, was a bit much, I've enjoyed his others of dancers in recognizable NYC locations (although not landmarks, as with their recent poster series -- one of which immortalizes Damian Woetzel in that Prodigal Son leap in front of the Ugliest Statue in the World at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine). I rather like the one of Rachel Rutherford and I forget who else holding up one of the Central Park walls. The ads and posters are clever and pretty ways of reinforcing the comany's connection to NYC (in more than just its name) and I like them fine.

#7 cargill

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 10:16 AM

I really liked the earlier series, with dancers in recognizeable ballet positions, especially the Darci Kistler Swan Lake one, but the recent ones seem just vapid to me, barely related to ballet at all. And certainly not designed to convey to the public what a night at NYCB might be like.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 10:46 AM

One of the things I love about doing Ballet Alert!, the newsletter, is the season's preview feature I put together every year. In addition to collecting press releases sent to me, I check every company that has a web site. Every time I think I've found THE most hilarious or outrageous or offensive advertising, two clicks away there's something worse -- or better, depending on one's move.

This year, my very favorite was the "Murder and Mayhem" double bill one company was touting. The ballets? Balanchine's "Chaconne" and "Slaughter."

I could only figure that "Slaughter" was the Murder part, and the way they danced "Chaconne" must have been the "Mayhem" part. The copy for "Chaconne" was sobering, too. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like, "First, there's a beautiful pas de deux. Then a pas de trois. Then many dancers enter. . . ."

BalletNut, great topic. I'm glad you raised it. Another theme I've noticed, obviously in the attempt to appeal to both sides of what is presumed to be the ballet audience -- the ballet moderne fans and the storybook fans -- I've seen dozens of companies, including some of the larger ones, with schizoid ads: a ballerina, all rosy in her pink tutu (with tiara and toe shoes) juxtaposed with a half-naked, snarling man in a spread eagle leap. Opera's lookin' good.

#9 salzberg

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 11:01 AM

Originally posted by Mme. Hermine:
and the person at p.r. or wherever at boston ballet a few years ago that decided that the audience wouldn't understand a ballet called 'le corsaire' so titled it "the pirate" in advertisements with 'le corsaire' in parentheses.....


I assume that the ad was placed by Le Flack.

#10 Drew

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 12:53 PM

Much of what has been quoted above sounds absurd, but translating the title of a work seems like a legitimate ploy...How many of us -- even hard core ballet fans -- think of "Casse Noissette" as our holiday ballet tradition? Certainly the movie adaptation of Liasons Dangereuses (an English play based on a French novel) must have pulled a bigger audience by translating the play's title to Dangerous Liasons.

I do think, though, that some of the NYCB ads verge on soft-core porn, and it truly irritates me when I see one of them...

#11 Siren

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 01:34 PM

I agree about the NYCB ads, I liked them much better when they actually featured dance positions! The new ones just remind me of Calvin Klein commercials. And I especially don't like the image of the young women in them; the women seem so inviting and lacking in personality-- it's pretty jarring when you see how fearless and strong they are on stage!

#12 ~A.C~

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 01:45 PM

Translating the name of the ballet really isn't too horrible as long as the meaning isn't changed. Most ballet titles come to the U.S. and U.K. in English. The Tchaikovsky ballets were all translated from the Russian. It never has detracted from the work. It is only so the majority of the audience can understand what the title means. What is wrong with that? I do not not consider the fact that most people don't speak the native language of where the ballet came from to be ignorance. It is just that we haven't grown up speaking that language, and the title is translated to whatever we speak.

#13 Ed Waffle

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 04:52 PM

Has there been ANY market research on the effectiveness of these ads. I would think not, the marketing budgets for most companies being what they are.

I would assume, though, that not one person has purchased a ticket to a ballet based on adverts that feature murder, mayhem or anything of that nature.

Here in Motown, where plenty of ridiculous ads have originated, the Michigan Opera Theatre seems to have the right idea. Their slogan and tagline is "Think. Feel. See an Opera"

#14 Guest_DancingDoc_*

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 09:09 PM

Hi folks....bummed out about advertizing?

I remember an episode of Abosultely Fabulous where an expectedly drunk Edwina rants and raves about her own PR business to the tune of something that says "You've attached everything that's good and wholesome and beautiful in the world to some toilet cleaner!"

Thank God that the adverizers and PR people are attaching something to that's good and wholesome and beautiful, namely ballet and dance, in an effort to bring more people into the theatres!

Whatever may help to sell ballet and dance, I'm for it!

DancingDoc

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 09:21 PM

Originally posted by Ed Waffle:
Here in Motown, where plenty of ridiculous ads have originated, the Michigan Opera Theatre seems to have the right idea. Their slogan and tagline is "Think. Feel. See an Opera"


Ed, you've renewed my faith in advertising. I hope this attitude spreads.


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