For those "people who need people" to influence their behavior and buying habits, Barbra Streisand's tour patter fulfills the definition of word-of-mouth marketing....
I saw Barbra Streisand's tour performance this week. Before I get into the marketing rationale for this post, let me share something personal with you.
I saw her on Broadway in Funny Girl in 1965 when I was a kid. It was at that moment that I became enraptured with her and the experience influenced me profoundly. I had already been studying the violin in school since grade four, and sang whenever I could -- in school performances, in front of the class... After Barbra, I taught myself the guitar, began to write music and performed throughout my teen years at coffee houses, sweet sixteens and school concerts.
I learned to emulate her phrasing and style, practicing her material in addition to my own. I admit it -- I idolized her. Because of Barbra's influence, I developed a deeper love of music. It eventually lead to an undergraduate degree in music, a teaching degree, and a public school music educator's job. When I resigned from teaching to take my stab at a professional singing career, Barbra was there with me, in spirit.
When I saw her perform this week, after 41 years (really, it only sounds like I'm old), I cried. She had played such an influential role in my life and my music, and even though I had never met her, it was her public personna that had affected me greatly.
So, when she came out on stage, I hung on her every word and nuance, listening attentively to her stage patter. It wasn't long before she made reference to my city and the southwest in general, something she probably revises in each tour city. (It does work effectively to draw in the local crowd.)
For comic effect, she compared the desert to her original home of Brooklyn, not just in landscape and nature, but in food differences. She shared her experience of being introduced to some new southwest foods, then she actually mentioned at least three local restaurants and specific menu items!
Now, it's likely that this content was just for entertainment value and effect, but can you imagine if it was actually a form of product placement? What if the restaurant chain she mentioned had paid for her to utter its name along with her favorite menu item? Who in her audience of fans wouldn't listen?
It happens when celebrities wear a new designer's clothing. The clothing line takes off simply because it was seen on someone people admire. What would make this different?
I doubt any local restaurant could afford to pay Babs to say its name on stage, but it makes me think... It is possible for big companies to buy this type of exposure. Maybe I'm naive and they already do. In any case, I wonder how many people showed up at those three restaurants the next day.
As an aside, Kris Kristofferson was playing in town the same night. He and Barbra hadn't been on stage together since they filmed A Star is Born in the 1970s, right here in Phoenix at Sun Devil Stadium. He showed up after his concert finished and joined Babs on stage for a brief embrace -- no song. But, it was incredibly special.
In retrospect, maybe I'll check out those special foods she loved. Just kidding :)
Take the first step (it's free).
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