Sunday, August 15, 1999

CSO launches ad campaign

4-year effort aims to boost attendance

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra wants you to be moved to buy a concert ticket this season.

        On Monday, the orchestra will begin airing television ads during the morning and evening network and local news as part of a new, $1 million plan to broaden its profile. The campaign also includes public TV, cable channels, billboards around the city, direct mail and radio spots on stations that are outside the classical box.

        The TV spot, the CSO's first in nine years, aims to make the orchestra a household word. The CSO hopes its product — classical music — will appeal to more baby boomers and younger people who are seeking a new entertainment experience.

        The TV commercial's theme, “Bring Your Emotions,” is the main message for the planned four-year campaign, says David S. Bukvic, CEO of Mann Bukvic Gatch Partners, which produced the spot. The CSO selected the firm last year to help it carry out a new marketing and public relations strategy (with Dan Pinger Public Relations) as part of its long-range plan.

        “The idea is that classical music speaks to the heart, and you experience it,” Mr. Bukvic says. “We're relating the feelings that you have when listening to certain pieces of music, to actual visceral types of experiences.”

        The 30-second spot seamlessly unites fragments of four classical pieces to be performed this season: Dvorak's New World Symphony No. 9, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Barber's Adagio for Strings, and Sibelius' Finlandia.

        The music and an announcer's voice are heard against vast space- and landscapes: a snowy mountaintop, a redwood forest, the rings of Saturn (a computer-generated image) and a fjord at sunset. The orchestra was filmed during its final season concert last May for the spot's concluding seconds.

        With concert attendance declining in the past decade and the orchestra undergoing a search for a new music director, it is a critical time for the CSO.

        The TV ads are among its first steps to update its image to appeal to a high-tech society with many leisure time options. The CSO hopes the commercials will increase the chances that people will consider going to Music Hall when deciding what to do for weekend entertainment.

        “We are trying to change people's perceptions about the orchestra, and make them more aware of the orchestra,” says CSO marketing director Dianne Cooper.

        The billboards and mailings will reinforce the TV ads. Radio spots on non-classical stations such as WVXM- FM (94.1), “MIX94.1,” will tout eight CSO concerts during the year.

        The plan will cost about $1 million over four years. The orchestra hopes to recoup its investment with increased ticket sales. The campaign is timed to bridge the final two years of music director Jesus Lopez-Cobos' tenure, which ends in 2000-2001, with the first two years of his successor.


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