Last week I attended opening night of the Joburg Ballet’s latest production; Romeo and Juliet. True to my Twitter profile I’m a big fan of the ballet and I regularly gloat about how I’ve been a consistent supporter (and wannabe) while the recent fan cohort has only just rediscovered ballet with a fresh romance.
What was surprising is that a pre-performance, sponsored by Mango Airlines, tapped into my media and marketing passion as well.
Mango has been a long-standing airline partner to the Joburg Ballet. If we follow classical marketing theory, the advertising opportunity for them in being a sponsor needs to be a seamless integration of their products and brand in the space provided by the Joburg Ballet. This corresponds to knowing the intrinsic characteristics of the medium you are advertising in and leveraging your advertising opportunities through sponsorship with an organic alignment. But how does Mango advertise at a ballet performance? How could a branded pull-up banner compete with the likes of principle dancers like Shannon Glover and Jonathan Rodrigues? The answer is by bringing the Mango brand into the ballet space.
To address this problem, Ballet Master Michael Revie, who also dances the part of Mercutio in the current production, choreographed a dance to Frank Sinatra’s Fly Away in celebration of Mango’s 10th Birthday. The dance involved seven female dancers and six male dancers dressed in Mango’s iconic orange and culminated in a striking pose with a stage model of a Mango plane. At no point did the dance communicate a price or service; it simply embodied the upbeat, carefree and slightly cheeky attributes that we associate with the Mango brand, but in a whole new way.
But how does Mango advertise at a ballet performance? How could a branded pull-up banner compete with the likes of principle dancers like Shannon Glover and Jonathan Rodrigues? The answer is by bringing the Mango brand into the ballet space.
Great advertising, in my view, can be measured by its ability to deliver entertainment and value in an unexpected space. That is what makes a message memorable, which is the key ingredient to securing trial, conversion or repeat buying behaviour. This is exactly what Mango and the dancers of the Joburg Ballet were able to do. While we awaited the commencement of the ballet, Romeo and Juliet, we were entertained with a whole extra performance we didn’t expect or pay for. That added value was delivered by Mango. In addition we could appreciate the real visual representation of Mango’s commitment to the Joburg Ballet as a kind of corporate social responsibility.
In today’s hyper-visual society of ‘see, click, buy’ a traditional format like the ballet can provide valuable and innovative new advertising spaces for clever clients. As South Africa achieves a milestone in online retail purchases*, it is clear that the lines between entertainment like dance, and consumption, in the form of buying, no longer exist. As media brands shift their marketing budgets to digital development and content sharing, the ballet has found a way to offer advertisers something that only they have access to. That’s a unique selling point. I wonder if they have a rate card?
*1% of retail purchases are now made online according to World Wide Worx’s report – sourced at The Media Online
Justine Cullinan (@shoeshanista) is station manager at 5FM.