Earlier this week, I was walking through London’s West End on my way to a meeting with my editor. As I walked past the Adelphi theatre on the Strand, a 40 foot high collection of shimmering silver disks caught my eye. Over the top was emblazoned the words The Bodyguard.
I remember The Bodyguard movie well. For those of you who are too young, it was released in 1992. It starred singer Whitney Houston as a famous singer and the then-very-bankable Kevin Costner as her bodyguard. The film was entirely predicatable, although its signature tune, I will always love you, was #1 in the US for 14 weeks, a record at the time.
I started thinking about how the musical connects with my ideas of the curve. The Curve is all about how you try to reach the widest possible audience to make them aware of what you do (typically but not exclusively via the Internet) and as people become bigger fans (often, but not exclusively, through one-to-one engagement via the Internet). they spend more and more money on premium products, experiences or services.
In this case, The Bodyguard was a global phenomenon driven by traditional marketing techniques long before the Internet was a mainstream medium. Warner Brothers spent lots of money marketing it and it was a successful movie. But 20 years later, I imagine its revenue stream is dwindling. So a good question for executives is:
- “Is there pent-up demand for The Bodyguard experience, and given that you can pick up a copy of the movie for $5 at Amazon, how can we let people who loved The Bodyguard spend more money on it”?”
The answer, it seems, is a musical
On the official website of The Bodyguard musical, six standard ticket prices are listed:
There is also an option to call the box office for Premium prices. So I did. The top ticket is £95, for a premium stall seat or dress circle seat, slap bang in the centre of the auditorium. The helpful ticket lady I was speaking to spent quite some time telling me that the £67.50 seats were nearly as good, and you could often get one right next to the Premium £95 tickets. That made me think that the £95 pricing is there just to make other items look more reasonable, a technique frequently used by restaurants on their winelist (more about that in another post).
So The Bodyguard can only sell for $5 on Amazon. Meanwhile, the intellectual property can be exploited with seats at £95 ($150), nearly 50x as much. You can’t directly compare the cost of a DVD that you own for ever with the ephemeral experience of a night at the theatre. You can see a direct link between the awareness building of the movie over twenty years and the ability to charge a premium for the ephemeral experience of a theatre show.
It is the nature of this link that I intend to explore in The Curve.
About The Curve
The Curve will tell you how to use the web to give stuff away from free, to build relationships with your biggest fans and to charge them lots of money for things they value.
It will be published by Penguin in late 2013.
- How etailers can take advantage of the Curve, and make money when everything is going free.
- The Curve in 15 minutes
- ‘Sorry, Martin Mills, the future of music is through innovation, not government protection’
- If Amazon cared about selling hardware, ebooks would already be free
- 3D printing will help us colonise the moon