Lifting the digital curtain on dance

by Rachel Turner


Digital transformation conversations are part of our everyday here at The Crocodile, and increasingly so of late with many of our enterprise clients. Introducing innovation and creativity – enabled by technology – can really shake things up, and ambitious marketers are up for it. An organisation on the front foot of such an approach is the Royal Opera House, and they’ve got it so right.

Years of dance school have fuelled my love of ballet, and since hanging up my pointe shoes there’s no greater pleasure for me than watching professional ballet live. It’s an expensive hobby as good seats tend to shock the bank balance, but there’s nothing like being present in a theatre amongst such talent. Until now…

The Royal Opera House’s annual Live Cinema Season is a game-changer. Through the power of technology, they’ve expanded beyond their Covent Garden bricks and mortar to bring live theatre and dance to the masses.

Last night, watching three short ballets as part of a centenary celebration for the late composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein, live at my local cinema, it struck me how far they’d gone to ensure that what was lacking in Opera House ambience was made up for by pretty much EVERYTHING else.

Exclusive interviews with choreographers, costume designers, and set designers, and engaging host (Oré Oduba), behind the scenes footage, unrivalled views…. Even a digital version of the coveted hard copy programme was available with added films, articles, photos and exclusives to bring you closer to the production.

During the intervals, live tweets were shown on cinema screens, and immediately after the production, social posts went live encouraging online reviews and feedback, with #ROHbernstein featuring as one of the top 10 trending hashtags in the UK.

A Crimson Hexagon review of the last 24 hours on Twitter shows 1,000 uses of the hashtag, across 37 countries.

All of this demonstrates a carefully planned and exceptionally executed approach by the Royal Opera House to broaden its reach and to appeal to a different demographic, through increasing accessibility via technology. In addition to affluent theatregoers, more frugal (and digitally native) dance lovers can share their appreciation of the art in real-time.

The customer experience, of course, is key, whatever you’re marketing. Personally, I think the Royal Opera House has nailed it on multiple levels. They’ve expanded their product offering, without compromising the experience of their traditional customer – no mean feat in an industry so rich in tradition and heritage. Delivering a feeling of exclusivity to both theatre and cinema audiences is impressive; doing it simultaneously is a masterclass in marketing, and digital transformation in particular.

What lessons can we learn from this in B2B?

  • Tradition and heritage can embrace digital. Technology elevates products, services and marketing.
  • Accessibility is all-important. Make it easy for your customers to reach you, engage with you, buy from you, have a conversation with you.
  • Think customer-first: existing and prospective. Sometimes these can be complimentary. They may want the same things, but in different ways. Technology could make this possible.
  • Innovation doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel. Look for opportunities where integrating technology can add value.
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