TNM & Phéromone Tweet in Character
by Liesl Barrell
With CharPo already on a second TweeAtre instalment, I figured this would be the perfect time to cover a social media campaign involving Twitter that took the theatre world by storm.
For Théâtre du Nouveau Monde’s 2010 production of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme they enlisted Phéromone to helm the company’s first forays into tweeting, and together they produced the innovative interactive marketing strategy that won the agency a Bee’s Award and an Infopresse nod, to boot.
To get some industry insight into the campaign, I spoke with André Bélanger, VP at Phéromone, who remembers the snowballing momentum of the effort as a thrilling experience for his team. Spanning just four weeks, he laughs, “the campaign was too short!”
Originally, Bélanger says the campaign involved primarily giving voice to two Molière characters on Twitter: the bourgeois gentilhomme himself, Monsieur Jourdain and his wife, Madame Jourdain. But early on in planning they realized they would need a third wheel to build this world into a full conversation, and not simply a duet.
Initially the idea was to bring one of the servant characters in to give a different perspective, but they eventually chose to go with the seductive Marquise Dorimène to inject conflict between the married couple.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
“For the game to have meaning you need to follow the rules,” Bélanger states. To keep their writers on-brief, the agency developed three main guidelines:
From the get-go everyone knew to attempt tweeting exclusively in Alexandrins would be too ambitious, but the goal was for each post to include rhyming verse. Towards the middle of the campaign, as things started taking off, the writers relaxed this a little to keep up with followers’ post frequency, but everyone agreed to bring it back to this original intent during one of their daily touchpoint meetings.
2. Live Now, Think Then
The characters live in the present, but hold the values of their era. “They refresh us with their 17th century perspective, show us our reality through their eyes,” adds Bélanger.
3. Explore Molière-relevant themes
Tapping into the universality of consistent themes throughout Molière’s body of work was a key part of generating post content. Bélanger is quick to point out that the playwright had some very progressive ideas, “themes like feminism, jealousy, seduction, how men and women act, the relationships and power balance between them.”
Monsieur Jourdain oft-tweeted a phrase when reacting to some of the extensive media coverage taps into the narcissism shared across our eras: “On parle de moi!”
In order to realize their vision of a trio bringing their 17 Century perspective to current goings-on, these characters needed to be brought to life by a special breed of writer, a dedicated Twitterer capable of following the rules while improvising as needed.
In order to find the right candidate, Phéromone tweeted that they were looking for Quebec writers interested in participating in a theatre marketing project. From a pool of qualified candidates, they held auditions at the agency office and finally selected two people whose tweeting chemistry together was spot-on perfect: film-maker Alexandra Guité and former theatre teacher turned canine specialist, Jean Lessard.
Using TweetDeck, Lessard took on Monsieur Jourdain, Guité the Madame, and they shared the role of the Marquise between them. In addition to the rules, Bélanger recalls the fun competitive spirit brought about by turning their objectives into sport. The first of the writers to meet their follower goals would receive a hefty bonus! In the end, by constantly challenging and out-performing each other, they exceeded their targets and both walked away with extra change.
TWEET FOR TAT
Larger companies and arts institutions are often still extremely traditional in their approach to marketing, frequently sticking to media buys and relatively static web strategies (we have a website!). When this is the case, Bélanger points out, “they lose the magic of theatre where weird things happen every night.”
He touts social campaigns as a way for the arts to harness that magic as they market themselves with platforms that allow for quick adaptation and evolution in strategy. Thankfully, TNM was up for the ride with the Molière project. In the informative video below, Artistic Director Lorraine Pintal, talks about the process.
The agency had hoped the campaign would go viral enough for the press to just stumble on this universe without much public relations effort. In the end, they sent out a press release after the first week and as a result, received significant attention from French media.
Throughout the campaign the writers would goose and challenge Quebecers identified by the agency as key influencers, goading them into taking part in the game with a playful arrogance that inspired hundreds of followers to jump on board. Here’s my favourite example of an inflammatory rhyming tweet by the gentilhomme: @pplambert Sachez au moins, Monsieur, écrire vos nuisances de bonne manière et cessez de faire le fier avec vos grands airs: "flatulence"
For more insights into this award-winning campaign and its results, consult Phéromone’s full case study.
If you are interested in using Twitter for marketing, I recommend checking out some of the many awesome tools that can help you manage multiple accounts, schedule tweets for auto-publishing and collaborate with others to achieve your vision.
Liesl is an account manager at Twist Image, a leading digital marketing agency ranked among the top 10 in Canada for the second year running by Marketing Magazine. You can read more about her and the things she cares about on her blog at lieslbarrell.com or follow her on Twitter.