June 27, 2007

Poster and Publicity Design…

joshua judkins   posted 13 Jun 2007, 04:58 PM

So… it has been suggested that the quality of theatre publicity material in Wellington often leaves much to be desired.

I would tend to agree, but rather than moan about it, would like to open a thread for suggestions of what kind of visual stimulus people would like to see. Where anyone who is willing to give of their time to provide advice or direction to those putting together theatre posters might step forward to offer it.

I’ve recently started collecting old-school movie posters, and having obtained a large number from the 70s through to the late 80s I’ve been blown away by the gap between the good and the terrible.

I’ve noticed, however, that modern movie posters generally seem very good at letting the audience know what to expect from the film, and generally do so in a eye catching and visually exciting manner – whether the film be “Hard Candy”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, or “Ghost Ship”.

The only time I remember being totally stopped in my tracks by a theatre poster was many years ago now, for a show at BATS named “Stash” – the posters were A1 or A0, and had a ‘film poster’ look. Mr Whyte was in it, I believe… does anyone recall who designed them?

That’s my random collection of thoughts for today.

What do others think? What makes a GOOD theatre poster?

Insider007           posted 13 Jun 2007, 05:13 PM

Having seen ALL the main theatre in New Zealands current Posters. (ATC: Who wants to be 100?, Centrepoint: The Farm, Circa:Fat Pig, Downstage: Finding Murdoch, Court Theatre: The 39 Steps & Babylon Heights, and Fortune: Mum’s Choir. Only a few stand out and to me they are the more simpler ones.

Take Babylon Heights for example, Its the nightmarish flipside to the wizard of oz, all the poster is is a yellow brick sitting in a pool of blood with the words Explicit Content may offend, and the words Babylon Heights with a couple of logos, thats it! It stands out because it is only three colours, it isn’t swarmed with other “crap” like the Finding Murdoch one, it has a lot of stuff all over it, I understand it is of a newspaper cover but it is sooo busy.

Fat Pig, if you didn’t know what it was about I would have no clue, from it shouldn’t an advertisement give some idea what the show is about I understand that you don’t want to give to much away and really how the hell would you advertise Fat Pig??

And Fortune Theatre has the best idea for a Mums Choir poster out of any of the theatres that it has been on at funky, different and very original.

Once again just my two cents!

Robert Catto      posted 22 Jun 2007, 07:58 AM

It’s a bit early in the morning for me to try to clearly express what would work on me, but the best example I’ve seen was the poster for The Wholly Grain (sorry if I got that name wrong, but you know the one I mean).  Well lit photography with a good strong visual idea behind it goes a long way…

(Declaration of self-interest: I am a photographer who specialises in the performing arts – but I didn’t shoot that!)

As a separate issue, I’ve long considered the idea that a Chapman Tripp award for arts marketing would be a really good idea, and might encourage design companies to get involved in projects as a showcase for their own work.  That said, that approach doesn’t always work, as it becomes a design/brand exercise for the designer and can get away from what the show wants to communicate – but that can be true of any design!


Sophie Hambleton           posted 25 Jun 2007, 05:18 PM

This is a very interesting topic for me at the moment because it relates directly to my Third year Research project at Toi Whakaari. I am looking into Theatre advertising, publicity and marketing from an image based angle. I am interested in who makes the ultimate decisions about posters etc for theatre shows and why certain decisions are made?

Any comments, information or insights would be greatly appreciated. Please note that this research is not coming from a “I think all theatre advertising sucks” attitude! It is simply what interests me and what i want to explore further as a theatre maker myself 🙂

Mary Anne Bourke          posted 25 Jun 2007, 09:01 PM

Way cool Joshua you remember the STASH posters! Yeah, the big AOs in b&w. One featured Jason Whyte & Clalre Waldon with-a-gun, the other had Irene Wood as an elderly lady, gagged. Put together, they made the biggest poster ever. They were designed by Andrew Foster, who also directed and designed the premiere production. (Bats 1998) Photography by Matt Grace. Course I’m biased cos I wrote the play, but yeah, they were knockouts.

Catherine            posted 26 Jun 2007, 02:42 PM / edited 26 Jun 2007, 02:43 PM

Hi Sophie – a fresh take on theatre marketing is the trailer.  I’m a co-producer with an independent company in Akld called The Rebel Alliance.  Our marketing budgets are tiny in comparison with the Circa’s etc of the world, and we normally do our own distribution of flyers and small size posters.  The trailer concept came about because we toured a show to Wellington and couldn’t walk the streets ourselves handing out flyers etc.  So Anders (the director and other co-producer) came up with the idea of the trailer.  It generated quite a bit of interest which was great from our point of view and so we did another one for our new show.  To have a look at both trailers go here: http://www.therebelalliance.co.nz/news/).  I think a Wellington company has also produced a trailer for Motel??)

I consider posters and flyers to be a necessary evil, we have to have them, but personally I think they have little direct impact on ticket sales.  Having said that of course, here’s an interesting take on the sex sells concept: a show we did last year featured a fantastic cleavage shot and we sold heaps of tickets before we even opened.  This year our poster design was of a close up of a bomb with a nuclear symbol and advance bookings were slow… so to answer Joshua’s original question: from a producer perspective, a good poster features boobs and sells tickets… 😉

Good luck with your project!

lisa scott              posted 27 Jun 2007, 02:55 PM

How lovely to have feedback about the design I do, it really does make you feel that all your hard work is worth it. I am often criticised when my designs are challenging (the shape of things being a case in point) and also derided for playing it safe. Thank you, this has made my day!

Share on social


Make a comment