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if youre in advertising you should realise why these things have happened and that 78 to now is a different world AND why TV broadcasts failed in our niche of an activity.

If anything, TV world of 2012 is friendlier to "niche" activities than in 1978. I have a British friend who loves profession motorcycle races and manages to find them showing regularly on TV. So, there shouldn't be a reason other than it getting even "niche-ier" than a 200+ channel TV universe can accommodate.

I do know that sports that wall themselves into a "pay to watch" situation tend to decline, while sports that keep themselves visible to thrive. Boxing used to be a very visible sport, but it went the "pay to watch" route. More people watch the phony professional wrestling now.

In many markets, you have to buy an extra TV channel to watch the local baseball games. The ratings of the World Series have been dropping over the years, while the NFL's ratings are steady and the sport thrives.

You are right in everything you have said but you havent talked about what DCI believes is the target audiance, where they think the future is..Im not saying either way, just looking at the facts of the situation as it presents itself.

I have little or no knowledge of who DCI believes their target audience is. I've never attended a DCI marketing meeting or read their documents. However, they wouldn't be the first marketer to misread their own product, take it in a different direction that alienates the most obvious target audience in pursuit of one that is elusive or impossible to get.

(based on seeing the Blue Devils show last night, is the target audience doctoral art history students? How do you advertise that?)

Real marketers hire outside consultants and advertising agencies to advise them and help with these things. From what I can tell, the corps that are in DCI are making these decisions without any outside objective opinions or marketing analysis.

You can also ask whyis ther 1/2 the membership of Boy Scouts now comapred to the 70s

I don't know what parallels that has to drum corps or relevance that has to the discussion. Maybe you can enlighten me.

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I've worked in the advertising industry since I graduated from college and aged out of the Crossmen. I'm a media strategist and tactician. Drum corps has thousands and thousands of alumni who are st

No amount of advertising to the general public, no amount of spectacular performance presented in that advertising, no amount of endorsement from respected leaders in other field, NOTHING is going to

Good grief, plug in your own titles for Pete's sake; the point was about the number of people willing to buy a ticket to a great "movie" vs. a great "art-film". DCI can still be high quality "movie";

If anything, TV world of 2012 is friendlier to "niche" activities than in 1978. I have a British friend who loves profession motorcycle races and manages to find them showing regularly on TV. So, there shouldn't be a reason other than it getting even "niche-ier" than a 200+ channel TV universe can accommodate.

I do know that sports that wall themselves into a "pay to watch" situation tend to decline, while sports that keep themselves visible to thrive. Boxing used to be a very visible sport, but it went the "pay to watch" route. More people watch the phony professional wrestling now.

In many markets, you have to buy an extra TV channel to watch the local baseball games. The ratings of the World Series have been dropping over the years, while the NFL's ratings are steady and the sport thrives.

I have little or no knowledge of who DCI believes their target audience is. I've never attended a DCI marketing meeting or read their documents. However, they wouldn't be the first marketer to misread their own product, take it in a different direction that alienates the most obvious target audience in pursuit of one that is elusive or impossible to get.

(based on seeing the Blue Devils show last night, is the target audience doctoral art history students? How do you advertise that?)

Real marketers hire outside consultants and advertising agencies to advise them and help with these things. From what I can tell, the corps that are in DCI are making these decisions without any outside objective opinions or marketing analysis.

I don't know what parallels that has to drum corps or relevance that has to the discussion. Maybe you can enlighten me.

as far as Boy Scouts...the 70s to now..it shows and has been proven that kids today have many more choices than we did back then and a kid today is soooooo different. support locally for such groups and other things like CYO, civic groups, church groups, etc etc have all but gone...this is for a reason and if drum corps people think we are any different than those groups are in regard to support , we are very wrong. TV didnt work for a number or reasons. Some were lack of sponsors $$$$$$$$$$$$, PBS, pledges from the drum corps community that never followed through. Any and all sports I believe will always draw more interest then what we do. This wouldnt be the 1st time we've gone down that road.

I marched BITD also and still teach today and I think I have a pretty good understanding of the activity from the inside out. I talk to so many I marched with and they also dont get how hard it is to just get a rehearsal facility and how expensive it is wonce you do. Im not saying we shouldnt or cant market the activity BUT it has to be understood totally how it is today and not BITD or how we think it SHOULD BE..JMO

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Guardling you just hit on a key point. In terms of sponsors, DCI should have waaaaay more non-music related sponsors. I wouldnt say that it's completely far fetched that Gatorade/powerade should be a corporate sponsor of the activity. That would bring in more following, as well as funds.

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Guardling you just hit on a key point. In terms of sponsors, DCI should have waaaaay more non-music related sponsors. I wouldnt say that it's completely far fetched that Gatorade/powerade should be a corporate sponsor of the activity. That would bring in more following, as well as funds.

that would be nice but its been tried before...sponsors dont sponsor to be nice its to make money and our activity even filling a stadium ( which we dont doesnt generate enough money, interest,support,even Disney pulled back support to some degree. Unfortunately we just dont bring the #s or the dollars for big time sponsors to throw their support behind.

would be nice but there has been some in the past but very short lived.

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No amount of advertising to the general public, no amount of spectacular performance presented in that advertising, no amount of endorsement from respected leaders in other field, NOTHING is going to ever change the public's perception of the activity as anything other than a bunch of geeky kids who could make the sacred football team....and who are thus not worth watching.

It's not a drum corps issue, it's a general public view of the marching arts, and until THAT changes and school marching programs start getting some respect and support for the public and schools, it won't bleed over to corps.

Respectfully, I disagree, Sam. OP brings up some good issues, albeit with a little bit of a tart tone. But also offers some good (if simplistic) suggestions.

I'd start with an overview of how the Blue Man and Trans-Siberian Orchestra groups--in a BAD economy, no less!--continue to draw enough of an audience to keep their doors open! Its not cheap renting out the American Airlines Center in Dallas...gotta draw a crowd! And those groups cost money...salary, hotels, per diem, etc. Granted, they also draw advertising. Fortune 500's, etc.

See also Disney On Ice and anything that Ringling is doing. Those would be good models to glean some lessons from...they've only been drawing a crowd and keeping the doors open for, what, 100 years?

Perhaps some good, old fashioned business case studies would be in order? Pay some DCI age-out who is majoring in business to study some of these groups? Pretty cheap. Would be good experience for some kid. And vastly beneficial for DCI.

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Respectfully, I disagree, Sam. OP brings up some good issues, albeit with a little bit of a tart tone. But also offers some good (if simplistic) suggestions.

I'd start with an overview of how the Blue Man and Trans-Siberian Orchestra groups--in a BAD economy, no less!--continue to draw enough of an audience to keep their doors open! Its not cheap renting out the American Airlines Center in Dallas...gotta draw a crowd! And those groups cost money...salary, hotels, per diem, etc. Granted, they also draw advertising. Fortune 500's, etc.

See also Disney On Ice and anything that Ringling is doing. Those would be good models to glean some lessons from...they've only been drawing a crowd and keeping the doors open for, what, 100 years?

Perhaps some good, old fashioned business case studies would be in order? Pay some DCI age-out who is majoring in business to study some of these groups? Pretty cheap. Would be good experience for some kid. And vastly beneficial for DCI.

And I must respectfully disagree back...Blue Man and TSO can get by with the visual (TSO) or musical (BMG) element minimized...it would still be understandable as either audio or visual entertainment.

Drum corps is different. You NEED all the elements to really get the point across....a non-corps person could watch 08 Regiment and get the story....but not without the visual.

All of the examples you listed do NOT have a long history of being minimized in significance the way the marching arts does....from elementary school band to Crown or BD.

Everyone can watch a circus act and get the gist (lion tamer not eaten/trapeeze artist no fall/clowns funny = good). Figure skating has a long and stories history, especially with so many Americans taking medals at the Olympics.

But drum corps does not have that....it has to fight the public perception of the marching arts.

Until THAT changes, drum corps won't get the respect we feel it deserves...plain and simple.

It's similar to fencing...I work with stage combat people...I AM a fencer and instructor...I know exactly how difficult the move Basil Rathbone pulls at 3:32 in this vid ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VTyPWvyAF8 ...he's on the right) is to pull off cleanly, but a non-fencer probably will not....they'll just think it's "people whacking swords together"....same as the marching arts are often thought of as "walking around tooting on a horn."

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Before I put in my 2 cents, here’s a bit of a background on me. I marched guard at Crown 03-06 and since my drum corps days I have been in the ad industry working as a creative for the past 5 years at AKQA and now, Leo Burnett. I’ve worked on national and global campaigns for Gap, Old Navy, Visa, Audi and Sprint.

So with that said, here’s my pro bono advice/take on DCI nowadays.

Right now, DCI seems to be targeting the die-hard fans and the music youth. They’re doing an o.k. job with that right now, but the downside is to this is that all of the language and advertising comes off as “insider” talk. So the challenge is this: how do we make drum corps accessible to new folks without dumbing down the activity?

Some of the best tour stops I loved marching in were heavily involved the entire community (Bristol, Salem, Allentown to name a few). I remember families sitting in the grassy knoll, having picnics and watching drum corps. It looked like these families built summer traditions around them. That’s what I think DCI needs to start doing – no matter if you know what drum corps is or not, it’s a great summer activity to attend. Communities and towns come alive during the summer and as small as some of these tour stops are, a DCI event could be a big summer event to attend with the family.

Allentown and Bristol are successful with their shows because while corps are there practicing they are completely immersed in the drum corps experience. The corps during these times are walking advertisements just by practicing downtown in Allentown and filling up the town with beautiful noise pollution or marching the Bristol 4th of July parade and getting the drunk crowd fired up.

I believe that DCI can try to recreate this experience in every town at different scales and start making these shows a summer tradition for the entire community. Get the Mayors involved in these events, start sending out press releases to local newspapers, create town hall performances featuring key corps members, get popular local food vendors at the stadium, see if a local community organization wants to cosponsor, etc. Start pinning these DCI shows as great American Pastime events to attend during the summer. Each town is going to be different and if DCI starts building a relationship with each town, the end result will create a larger whole fan base. These people might not go to Indy for finals, but they’ll start making note of when the drum corps roll into town.

As a former member I only wish the best for DCI and who knows, maybe in a few years when I’m in a high enough position I can offer up some pro-bono work to help the organization out in the name of continuing music education.

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Before I put in my 2 cents, here's a bit of a background on me. I marched guard at Crown 03-06 and since my drum corps days I have been in the ad industry working as a creative for the past 5 years at AKQA and now, Leo Burnett. I've worked on national and global campaigns for Gap, Old Navy, Visa, Audi and Sprint.

So with that said, here's my pro bono advice/take on DCI nowadays.

Right now, DCI seems to be targeting the die-hard fans and the music youth. They're doing an o.k. job with that right now, but the downside is to this is that all of the language and advertising comes off as "insider" talk. So the challenge is this: how do we make drum corps accessible to new folks without dumbing down the activity?

Some of the best tour stops I loved marching in were heavily involved the entire community (Bristol, Salem, Allentown to name a few). I remember families sitting in the grassy knoll, having picnics and watching drum corps. It looked like these families built summer traditions around them. That's what I think DCI needs to start doing – no matter if you know what drum corps is or not, it's a great summer activity to attend. Communities and towns come alive during the summer and as small as some of these tour stops are, a DCI event could be a big summer event to attend with the family.

Allentown and Bristol are successful with their shows because while corps are there practicing they are completely immersed in the drum corps experience. The corps during these times are walking advertisements just by practicing downtown in Allentown and filling up the town with beautiful noise pollution or marching the Bristol 4th of July parade and getting the drunk crowd fired up.

I believe that DCI can try to recreate this experience in every town at different scales and start making these shows a summer tradition for the entire community. Get the Mayors involved in these events, start sending out press releases to local newspapers, create town hall performances featuring key corps members, get popular local food vendors at the stadium, see if a local community organization wants to cosponsor, etc. Start pinning these DCI shows as great American Pastime events to attend during the summer. Each town is going to be different and if DCI starts building a relationship with each town, the end result will create a larger whole fan base. These people might not go to Indy for finals, but they'll start making note of when the drum corps roll into town.

As a former member I only wish the best for DCI and who knows, maybe in a few years when I'm in a high enough position I can offer up some pro-bono work to help the organization out in the name of continuing music education.

This seems completely opposite the glitzy, "rock star", $60 ticket-extavaganza that is frequently talked about as being the future of drum corps' image.

Curious, do you see the product needing to change or is it just the packaging and marketing that's mis-focused?

In your vision it's hard to see "fewer shows, bigger shows" making sense. Would you agree or am I missing your point?

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This seems completely opposite the glitzy, "rock star", $60 ticket-extavaganza that is frequently talked about as being the future of drum corps' image.

Curious, do you see the product needing to change or is it just the packaging and marketing that's mis-focused?

In your vision it's hard to see "fewer shows, bigger shows" making sense. Would you agree or am I missing your point?

I think the packaging and marketing are hugely mis-focused, if there's any focus at all. There's no overall voice and look for the brand. It's obvious from the outdated 90's title sequence at the movie theater to each show's main website. How do they fix this?

Well, they should revamp and create an overall brand and style guideline that every thing representing DCI must adhere to. From the programs at small town shows to Finals at Indy - everything should look and feel the same. This is one of DCI's biggest issues and keeping things consistent across the board will help distinguish the brand.

As far as "fewer shows, bigger shows" I think DCI could still benefit from more shows due to lack of exposure on any big media buy – they just need to be more strategic and clever.

DCI needs to rebuild strong relationships with each community it has shows in - no matter the size. If you've never heard of drum corps, it should still be an attractive Summer activity with the family that's similar to seeing the symphony in the park. They just need to be more creative about how they attract the community. This is just brain vomit as I type but here are a number of things they could do:

- Corps have free days during the tour, how about each corps pledges to have one Good Samaritan free day(perhaps partner with AmeriCORPS?" During any tour stop of the corp's choice, the entire group will spend a day volunteering for habitat for humanity or at a local soup kitchen. Imagine what all those hands could do really help the community? And all the amazing press they would get before a show! After helping like that, I'm sure the community would love to see these kids in action on the field.

- Create press packets so people running the local shows can have some ideas to reach out to their community and increase attendance. Could they set up an impromptu concert in the town square with a small brass ensemble from one of the top corps? Could the guard practice in town square? Is there another event in town that could do some cross promoting with the show?

- Start thinking about how to utilize the offseason. Maybe DCI could hold a competition for 5 kids to win an all-expenses paid audition at any corps of their choice. Tell us why it's a dream of yours to audition for so-and-so corps. The best, possibly tear-jerking stories, would be featured and left for a community vote.

Anyway, these are just a few thought starters. It takes a ton more time and brains to actually come up with a well thought out direction for a brand, but I really think DCI could benefit from taking a step back, recognizing its roots with the community and how to refresh it and make it relevant in the modern world.

Edited by iCanHazDcp
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Before I put in my 2 cents, here’s a bit of a background on me. I marched guard at Crown 03-06 and since my drum corps days I have been in the ad industry working as a creative for the past 5 years at AKQA and now, Leo Burnett. I’ve worked on national and global campaigns for Gap, Old Navy, Visa, Audi and Sprint.

Welcome to the discussion. I work at GroupM, the media conglomerate that oversees Mindshare, Mediacom, MEC, and Maxus. I started at Ogilvy & Mather when I left college/drum corps. I've work on American Express, Subway, Unilever, and dozens of others.

So with that said, here’s my pro bono advice/take on DCI nowadays.

Right now, DCI seems to be targeting the die-hard fans and the music youth. They’re doing an o.k. job with that right now, but the downside is to this is that all of the language and advertising comes off as “insider” talk. So the challenge is this: how do we make drum corps accessible to new folks without dumbing down the activity?

Some of the best tour stops I loved marching in were heavily involved the entire community (Bristol, Salem, Allentown to name a few). I remember families sitting in the grassy knoll, having picnics and watching drum corps. It looked like these families built summer traditions around them. That’s what I think DCI needs to start doing – no matter if you know what drum corps is or not, it’s a great summer activity to attend. Communities and towns come alive during the summer and as small as some of these tour stops are, a DCI event could be a big summer event to attend with the family.

I agree with you about those venues. This is definitely something that needs to be recaptured. Speaking of Allentown--which for years was the only show I attended every year--many of these families you are seeing are alumni reunions. The Crossmen alumni have been having an Allentown picnic for years. There are other little pockets for corps you probably haven't even heard of (the Media Fawns?).

It's interesting that you bring up families because the seeds of wanting to be in drum corps often begin when a young person is exposed.

Allentown and Bristol are successful with their shows because while corps are there practicing they are completely immersed in the drum corps experience. The corps during these times are walking advertisements just by practicing downtown in Allentown and filling up the town with beautiful noise pollution or marching the Bristol 4th of July parade and getting the drunk crowd fired up.

I believe that DCI can try to recreate this experience in every town at different scales and start making these shows a summer tradition for the entire community. Get the Mayors involved in these events, start sending out press releases to local newspapers, create town hall performances featuring key corps members, get popular local food vendors at the stadium, see if a local community organization wants to cosponsor, etc. Start pinning these DCI shows as great American Pastime events to attend during the summer. Each town is going to be different and if DCI starts building a relationship with each town, the end result will create a larger whole fan base. These people might not go to Indy for finals, but they’ll start making note of when the drum corps roll into town.

Another thing that seems to have been lost is "hometown" awareness. I have often traveled to Chicago for business and have asked the locals if they know who the Cavaliers are. I have yet to get a "yes" response. So, corps shouldn't just be doing appearances on the road. How about some "hometown" awareness? Your ideas are good for the road. But, relationship to the community should begin at home and begins with the corps organizations themselves.

As a former member I only wish the best for DCI and who knows, maybe in a few years when I’m in a high enough position I can offer up some pro-bono work to help the organization out in the name of continuing music education.

I hope you do. I wonder if DCI has the resources to do the kind of rigorous research into developing objectives and strategies that we are both accustomed to.

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