Nancy Coyne’s first marketing/advertising gig on Broadway was the original 1972 production of “Grease.” Today, her company Serino Coyne, acquired by Omnicom in 2002, is the largest theatrical advertising agency in America. On Broadway, she typically handles advertising chores for eight of the top 10 shows, which represent nearly 80% of Broadway’s grosses.
“After 9/11, the response was so immediate, and people came back to Broadway in droves,” Coyne recalls. “I was afraid that by January and February, people would have felt they had done their civic duty and stopped coming to Broadway.”
To keep that legit spirit going, Coyne married the usual winter discounts with special deals for restaurants, hotels and parking. To date, the program has sold 660,000 tickets worth $42 million and counting.
Together with her client Disney Theatricals, Coyne introduced Kids Night Out. During January and February children, accompanied by a ticket-buying adult, get to go to the theater free of charge. “That’s where the new audience comes from,” Coyne says.
Coyne also initiated Tuesdays at 7, which raises the curtain on those nights a full hour earlier. “It used to be the worst night of the week,” she says of ticket sales. “Now people love it.” And so do the Times Square restaurants, which now enjoy two mealtimes — before and after the theater. “It was a hard initiative to get through,” Coyne recalls. “Broadway is a tradition-laden business.”
And yet, tradition has a lot to do with why she remains bullish on the theater.
“Broadway is alive and well and thriving, and the more digital information we’re bombarded (with), the more necessary it is to connect on a live basis,” Coyne says. “There’s a reason you don’t have peace talks over the Internet. We need to be in front of each other and with each other. The live communal experience of the theater is essential to life, and that’s why you can’t kill it.”