Wednesday, 28 April 2010

sydney opera house does branded content

When a colleague invited me to an 'opening night at the Sydney Opera House Studio', of course I was tempted. Given that in the past year or so I've seen some incredible acts perform, including Irish chanteuse Camille O'Sullivan, the irrepressible Alan Cumming and more, odds were that even though I didn't know what the show was actually about, it was bound to be good.

Throw in the fact that I was told the title included the tagline 'Beer is Proof that God Wants us to be Happy' ..and I was sold.

Now don't get me wrong. I like beer. I like learning about it, drinking it and hearing about it. But when it became apparent that the 'performance', (as it is billed on the SOH website), turned out to be a glorified guided tasting, predominantly by the sponsored beer company's booze and a Desperate Housewives intro-style voiceover expectations for the rest of the night took a dip.

Add a few frock changes by the host - self acclaimed Beer Diva (suppose it sounds a lot better than 'wench'), most males might have been captive (hot cougar, beer = awesome), but like the lambic-style beer tried on first, it kind of left a sour taste in the mouth.

Hands up, who felt tricked this evening. Instead of an night of enjoyable theatre, I got some free beer and a informational video I could have downloaded from youtube.

While I'm aware that SOH venues can be hired out for corporate events (a necessary part of venue life), and I'm more than aware of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to branded content marketing, this particular example came out more than a little contrived:

The "performance program" = a glossy DL advertising the sponsors and the singer and pianist mere foils for a screened video and a few bottles of the bubbly stuff. Doesn't quite fit the "A night at the theatre like never before" sell on the website, does it. Or maybe it does. I can't tell, I'm a little distracted by the fact that I'm choking on a beer coaster.

Call a 'spade' a 'spade', make it free (this event costs $55 for punters) or at least be clever enough to make everyone think it's a hoe, I say.

Image from the SOH website.


Erika said...

Obviously, there are as many opinions as stars up there...
I absolutely loved the show and had a great time. I am a fan of the Studio, and had the chance to attend Camille´s performance, too.
I found this show quite different from what I am used to, but allowed me to relax and have a good time.

Branded content or not, I still think that the tickets were really good value for what we got. It is sad to admit, but many of the shows would not be viable without the support of sponsors.

I find the comments about the host quite funny, and sound to me as if there is a bit of female jelousy on them :) I found her knowledgeable, fun and a fantastic host.

Just another opinion...

fooderati said...

Thanks so much for your comments - I definitely appreciate that there are so many perspectives on something as subjective as what constitutes entertainment, information and where the twain shall meet.

I'm aware sponsorship can be a vital part of a production, and when branded content is done well, it's seamless and clever. My comment wasn't that The Beer Diva isn't great at what she does, just that I'd rather a 'spade' be called a 'spade' and attend an 'entertaining and informative beer tasting event' rather than a 'performance'.

And not sure where you got the jealousy thing from - I happen to think she is brilliant from the industry, I was merely highlighting the elements of the event that were intended to be 'performance' when they were really 'good presentation'.