This spring marks the launch of a lively advertising campaign entitled “That’s Zintertainment!” For years we’ve wanted to do this: create a campaign that captures the entire Teatro ZinZanni experience in one sentence, one image, and one really amazing radio spot.
While we may rival Cirque du Soleil in terms of our commitment to circus arts, our reputation and our experience, our advertising budgets are fairly modest. As a company philosophy, we place our astonishing performers at the center of our campaigns. So to expand our scope to embrace the entire audience as well as the performers is a step in a different direction.
For years, we’ve been chasing the ultimate “dream” photo, one that captures the perfect essence of the whole ZinZanni experience – where the performers and the audience alike are perfectly lit, clearly having a blast and looking absolutely beautiful while doing it. Over the past 11 years, numerous photographers have tried to capture this illusive shot. There’s the challenge of shooting during a performance in a dark red velvet tent, a sumptuous tent that drinks light like some divas drink champagne. While the performer may look amazing in the shot, the audience member alas does not. While the perfect couple goggles in wide-eyed astonishment, the frame was snapped while the performer’s eyes were closed , etc. etc. etc.
So we brought in some big guns – copywriter Palmer Pettersen, audio engineer and sound designer extraordinaire Paul Goldberg of Pure Audio, our musical maestro himself, Norman Durkee, and local photographer Michael Craft – to help us accomplish what we think is a truly delightful and effective campaign.
For the “dream photo” we recruited a volunteer audience truly representative of who comes to see TZ – groups of corporate execs, groups of ladies enjoying a night out, a family celebrating a wedding anniversary or a special birthday, a couple on a date. Working with photographer Michael Craft and his fleet of assistants, we set up two distinct photo sessions: one with our aerial act and one with singers, clowns, servers, dessert, drinks, linens and audience members dressed in their finest. On a “dark” night (one where there was no performance scheduled), we set up the tent, took the shots and then Michael Craft and Korum Bischoff, TZSeattle’s Marketing and Design Manager, spent the next week placing overlay upon overlay so that every smile, every twinkling eye, and every xyz sparkled to reveal an editorial shot that will now be seen on the sides of buses and in Seattle Magazine, Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Visitors Guide, online at seattletimes.com, seattleweekly.com, thestranger.com, crosscut.com, wheretraveller.com, facebook, etc. etc. etc.
Check out the video of the making of the Dream Shot.
But the work really started weeks before this when Korum and I sat down with writer Palmer Pettersen to talk in hand-waving generalities about our intents for this campaign. At that point we knew what we wanted to accomplish and that we were driven to take this ultimate shot, but we wanted to make sure that there was one pristine piece of copy writing that said it all. We had worked with Palmer last fall on a radio spot to support our Holiday Gift Card campaign.
Palmer went away from our tasty lunch at Toulouse petit full of Fried Shrimp Po Boy and iced tea and came back a week or so later with the copy for a new radio spot, entitled “Tango…tango very much,” another 60 second full immersion into the zany world of ZinZanni. He structured it like a tango – runs of copy that could be said by one character, perhaps a woman, followed by another burst of energetic copy that could be rejoined by her partner, possibly a man… peut-etre… In fact, we used a piece of original music written by Norman Durkee entitled “Tango” as the musical bed.
At one point, Natasha (or is it Mr. C?) says “Sounds bizarre, I know! But that’s Zintertainment!” and we knew Palmer had nailed our headline for the whole campaign.
Calling on the magical mixing talents of sound designer and audio engineer Paul Goldberg, we brought comedian Kevin Kent into the studio at Pure Audio and for the better part of an hour ran lines in every possible character combination currently residing in his vast repertoire. At one point I had to remind everyone he had a show that night and not to wear him out. We finally settled on a couple of his newer characters – Mister C, the enigmatic Cold War spy of dubious gender, and Natasha, the clearly defined Russian spy a la Rocky and Bullwinkle meets Kevin Kent. Tune in and listen for yourself. This spot goes on the air the week of April 26.
For all you aspiring marketing directors out there, this is NOT a text book approach to creating proper messaging for your advertising campaign. But it’s worked for Korum and me, and we all had a helluva lot of fun making it. Hope you agree!
– Beth Brooks
Director of Communications, Teatro ZinZanni – Seattle