Allied Live looks to make a legit name for itself

CHICAGO — A new biz partnership is looking to Tinseltown as its model, in the hopes of bringing one-stop shopping to legit promotions. In Hollywood, nationally integrated marketing has long been standard practice, but in the legit realm, Broadway producers typically contract with a variety of specialists — website developers, press agents, marketing gurus and sponsorship and promotion pundits. That’s especially the case on the road, where shows have to strike deals with a variety of local publicists and ad buyers.

Now, say Laura Matalon and Tanya Grubich, owners of TMG — The Marketing Group, there will be an alternative.

TMG is bowing a joint venture with Allied Advertising, best known for movie and TV marketing. The result is a new entity called Allied Live, aimed at live entertainment and which will subsume the current TMG.

“We now want to oversee everything that has to do with buying a ticket,” says Grubich.

Long a major legit player, TMG already has marketing relationships with a wide range of Broadway shows, including “Wicked,” “Avenue Q,” “August: Osage County” and the imminent “Billy Elliot,” as well as upcoming tours of “Legally Blonde” and “Frost/Nixon.” The company is aiming to establish expansive relationships with its clients by leveraging Allied’s network of 24 local offices across the U.S. and Canada.

Cirque du Soleil, which has typically done most of its marketing and promotion inhouse, is already starting to work with the group. So are a number of venues and other live-biz entities, from the Hollywood Bowl to Theater Communications Group.

“We’re very serious about the live theater category,” says Clint Kendall, co-president of Allied Advertising, which counts Fox, DreamWorks and Paramount among its studio clients. “Our core is in the movie business, but we think it makes a lot of sense to extend that to live entertainment. We’ll be able to execute a nationwide strategy wherever a show goes. And that’s something that really doesn’t exist at the moment in the live category.”

That’s inarguably the case. The much smaller legit biz has never needed a web of local marketing and promotions offices like the ones studios have used for decades in cities like Atlanta or Denver. And the movie agencies generally have stayed out of legit, which involves a new set of quirky players and doesn’t offer the same scale of business.

But Matalon argues that a one-stop shop makes sense, especially now that websites, viral marketing and other weapons are an increasingly crucial part in a show’s arsenal. The new Allied Live plans to have website developers and other specialists on staff.

“We’ll put it all together without having three or four companies sitting at the table all doing different bits and pieces,” Matalan says.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether producers will want to take away business from leading Broadway ad agencies like SpotCo, which are known for their distinctive visuals. But signing one overall deal with someone to work on integrating ads, media, groups, promotions, sponsorships and that all-important online and viral component will likely have its appeal — especially for national rollouts.

“No one else provides full service,” says Carl Pasbjerg, general manager of the international martial arts show “Jump.” “And the people you job in don’t necessarily work well together or move in the same direction. It’s nice to have someone who says they’ll take care of everything.”

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