Lessons of theatre directing applied to marketing

This post is inspired by my friend, who I very much admire, the marketeer Toffael Rashid.

Like myself he trained as a theatre director before moving in to marketing.  He said recently,

Theatre directing and production was the perfect training ground for later becoming a successful brand communicator.

(Apologies if misquoted at all!)

I agree it can be.  Certainly, theatrical sensibilities and directing skills are required in marketing.  So below, as a bit of fun, are directors tips I once gave to actors, or used myself, as applied to marketing.

Lessons of theatre directing applied to marketing

1. Stanislavski’s – objective (What do I want?), action (What do I do to get it?), obstacle (What stands in my way?).  All actions should contribute to achieving the superobjective.

Adapted for marketing – What do my audience want / think?, What do I need to do to give it to them / change their mind?, What stands in my way?  All communications should contribute to achieving the brand or marketing mission.

2. “The actor must OWN his performance, and the director must make sure he does” (Being An Actor, Simon Callow)

The agencies or local markets must OWN the brands marketing objectives and vision as passionately as the in-house staff or global team does, and the marketing director or brand manager must do everything possible to allow them to

3.  Each actor should always ask “What is the play saying?”.  All plays make a statement.

Simply replace ‘play’ for the word ‘brand’- “What is the brand saying?”

4. “To act thinking is hard; impossible, in fact.  You must think”. (Being An Actor, Simon Callow)

As a brand (especially in the digital age) you MUST be authentic and transparent.  This means putting actions, commitment and resource behind fulfilling promises very directly.  Spinning, Green-washing or any other type of “washing” is NOT acceptable.

5. Video record rehearsal so nothing is lost

Video content however insignificant it may seem, may be of great interest to a brands online community.

6. “It is essential to reinvent on stage night after night… remint each moment” (Sir Anthony Sher)

The world is changing fast – brand managers and marketing directors must react and reinvent brand strategies and activations based on what is happening in the world outside, not only reappraising at the fixed times agreed internally.   A fixed vision with ever changing and developing ways to achieve it and to better engage audiences.

7. “The idea that you can present crap to audiences and then wean them onto something [else] is a fallacy…  If you put on crap, then the crap-loving audience will come”. (Pete Cheeseman)

Enough said! Know what audience you want for your brand now and in the future.

8. Give me one word the play is about ie. Macbeth- ambition

Can you do this for your brand?  Unilever – optimism,  Skittles – frolics,  Carling – belonging,  Ferrari – luxury

9. Stanislavski – ” The secret of spontaneous reaction on stage is simply to pay “limitless attention to your partner”

As a marketeer your ‘partner’ is your brand’s audience.  Now social media real-time listening (alongside other techniques), is crucial to understanding – and showing understanding of- your audience

10. Convention is the enemy of the actor, and you have to work hard to avoid falling into cliched ways…” (Yoshi Oida)

Is there a harder daily challenge than this for the marketeer? Avoid cliched output!

If you like these I’ve got plenty more.  But to end on my favourite quote from a theatre director:

“Do not assume that you have to have some prescribed conditions to do your best work.  Do not wait.  Do not wait for enough time or money to accomplish what you think you have in mind.  Work with what you have right now.  Work with people you have around you right now.  Work with the architecture you see around you right now.  Do not wait for what you assume is the perfect stress free environment in which to generate expression. Do not wait for maturity or insight or wisdom.  Do not wait until you are sure that you know what you are doing.  Do not wait until you have enough technique.  What you do now, what you make of yor present circumstances will determine the quality and scope of your future endevours.  And, at the same time, be patient. (Anne Bogart- A Director Prepares)


One thought on “Lessons of theatre directing applied to marketing

  1. Pingback: Five lessons of theatre directing applied to pitching « My Head Revisited

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