One of the unfortunate turnoffs of big entertainment acts is the accompanying rules that forbid audience recording or broadcasting. Such policies cast a negative tone even months before the event. Consider the ubiquitous “NO CAMERAS/VIDEO/RECORDER” warnings that boldly talk down to fans on Ticketmaster-issued tickets.
Which is why I was delighted by my family’s recent experience with The Wiggles, the hugely successful rock band for preschoolers, from Australia.
Our two-year-old son Julian is a passionate Wiggles fan, and has every single Wiggles concert and musical episode saved in our Netflix streaming queue. So when the band announced its arrival in the New York area, there was no way we weren’t going. I wasn’t losing sleep over The Wiggles, but Julian was.
My expectations were low, and driven lower by having to listen to them during the entire car ride to the show. We paid more than a few good dollars to hear a bunch of middle-aged men in neon, skintight shirts perform rock-n-roll versions of nursery rhymes — alongside Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, and Wags the Dog.
But once they came on stage, with thousands of preschoolers screaming with anticipation and joy, my feelings toward them changed. After introducing themselves — “Hello everyone, we’re Jeff, Murray, Anthony and Sam” — the first thing The Wiggles did was establish their policy on recording and broadcasting. Unlike most other big commercial acts, they asked all the children and parents to please take as many photos and videos as they could — and to share them on the Internet, on places like YouTube. The more the kids and parents shared, the more others around the world be able to join in on the experience. After that policy establishment, cameras and camera-enabled mobile phones started going off everywhere.
That policy is smart. For one, it says that The Wiggles genuinely want to please their fans — to let them do what they want to do. Second, that policy encourages fans to further immerse themselves in the experience and become more loyal. Third, encouraging concert attendees to capture and share their experience with the world automatically turns their million of fans into an even more powerful, mega marketing machine. The more people who join in on the experience, the more enjoyable the whole act becomes.
The immediate result for us? My son walked out and soon purchased more Wiggles albums, and insisted I commit to taking the family to see them again in concert. This is all a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despite mesmerizing songs and performances, this policy helps explain why The Wiggles made an estimated $45 million dollars in 2007.
Without a doubt, The Wiggles can teach most dull marketers a thing or two on how to be successful: be authentic, let go and engage your fans. And don’t insult those fans with policies that forbid them from sharing the experience.