– Persuading Presence
image:Posters As Marketing Tools

Posters As Marketing Tools

In this section we discuss posters as tools for marketing the arts. To market is to sell. The word marketing derives from the Latin verb mercari, to trade. But what does the word “marketing” mean in the context of the arts?

Like many large cultural organizations, the National Arts Centre breaks down the process of selling tickets to its many events into two main categories:

  • Marketing – refers to “paid media,” advertising that costs money; i.e. TV and radio spots, print ads and posters and/or handbills (essentially smaller posters, sometimes the size of post cards.) The term collateral materials refers to those items produced to sell the tickets. The person chiefly responsible for marketing a show is a marketer.

  • Publicity - refers to “earned media,” free advertising that the show “earns” because it’s newsworthy, including preview articles in newspapers, magazine features, and reviews of the production. The person chiefly responsible for overseeing publicity is the publicist.

“We create a poster for every production in our season. I’m personally a fan of the poster because I’m a walker. I see the world at eye-level, so I’m always looking at the many, varied posters that appear in my neighbourhood. Posters target people who go out, because they tend to be the theatre goers – the concert goers – so that’s why we see posters in the windows of bookstores, cafés and restaurants; places where people congregate. Posters create a buzz on the street, and keep the profile of plays, playwrights, and the artists who work on the productions much higher than they would be without an on-the-street presence. We send smaller handbill-sized versions of posters to many of our customers through direct-mail and email campaigns, but posters remain vital for the visual excitement they create.”

— Jen Covert, Marketing Department, National Arts Centre English Theatre