In 2014, ‘Theater aan de Stroom (TAS), a popular theatre company in Belgium was one of a host of other theatre companies who lost a third of their government funding overnight. That meant they had to find new sources of income. But preferably via a creative approach. Because theatre is all about being creative!
The solution? Famous and TAS came up with the idea of inserting commercial breaks in between live stage plays. Commercial breaks, that is, in the form of live theatre versions of existing TV commercials. The goal of the exercise was dual: to generate extra income to secure the survival of the theatre and to get the issue of government grants back on the political agenda.
What we did.
The first phase of the press relations exercise consisted of attracting attention to the initiative and inspiring a few press articles via a press release and teaser film.
Once the word was out, the company began rehearsing their adaptation of the TV ads for the stage. And the ball was rolling: the first “ads” were enacted during the performance of the play Vrouw Eet Man.
Several journalists were invited to this rather unique premiere to help spread the word. We took advantage of them to record the live ads and put together a mini video clip to dispatch to our media contacts first thing the following day!
What we got.
Not only did advertisers find a new and unexpected medium for getting their own message across, Theater aan de Stroom itself also got the chance to tell their story, resulting in a lot of news coverage and over 1.5 million euros in free publicity. Indeed, in just one commercial break alone, Theater aan de Stroom earned 25% of their lost funding back.
The discussion about public funding was therefore reopened in literally dramatic fashion, both in social media and political circles. And most importantly, the government agreed to re-examine the issue of funding for culture.
Proof that creativity can offer a powerful solution for issues that affect society at large.