Jubilee! Could Have Been Saved by Better Marketing

Now that Bally’s Jubilee! has been officially shuttered for the next month to update and change unspecified portions of the show, questions still abound about what prompted this decision of Caesars Entertainment to give up on the last gem of the golden age of Las Vegas showgirl production shows.

In a cynical sense, change in Las Vegas entertainment is always driven by one thing: money. Shows were originally mounted in casinos to attract, retain and reward gamblers. It’s only logical that if Caesars felt changes must be made to Jubilee! it was because the show was not generating enough money.  Since the show was paid off decades ago, and the performers are paid the least of any performers on the Strip, the lack of profit must primarily be due to lack of ticket sales.

Jubilee! Finale Jewel Box

It’s that hard to market and sell tickets to THIS!?!! Gimme a break.

Jubilee! is as beautiful and gorgeous as at any time in its 33-year history; wardrobe legends Donna Shad London and Marius Ignadiou have done extraordinary work in preserving the condition of these decades-old costumes. The gorgeousness and retro-quality of the show would be any Las Vegas marketer’s dream because of its uniqueness, high production quality, and historical value. The show should be raking in the money.

So, if the show is aesthetically spectacular, with a world-class talented cast, and is the last jewel of an era that millions pine for, why is it not selling?

In marketing terms, it’s not selling because the target audience is not being reached or influenced. In public relations terms, it’s not selling because it hasn’t been branded effectively.

Looked at with a non-insider’s eye, marketing and PR efforts lack some important components:

  • There are no social media channels for Jubilee!.
    • There is no active official Facebook page for Jubilee! There is a Facebook page entitled “Jubilee! at Bally’s Las Vegas”, but it has no posts, and so appears unused.  9,448 people have visited the page (that’s 9,448 people out of 40 million Las Vegas visitors each year), but there is no indication how many likes it has.  There is no impetus for anyone to “like” this page, as it appears inactive.  So, there is no active Jubilee! page on Facebook for audience members to “like” or follow.  Therefore, there are no daily posts showing up on followers’ Facebook pages to remind them of the gorgeous show, which is the whole idea of social media in marketing.
    • “The Pulse of Las Vegas”, Caesars’ Facebook page, occasionally posts about Jubilee! special appearances, but does not promote the show or describe it.
    • There are no Jubilee! Instagram or Twitter accounts — no other social media that is easily found by Internet surfers.  There are no links on the Bally’s website entertainment page to any social media.

Dear Caesar’s PR/marketing team,

Facebook and social media are free advertising.

Sincerely,

Everyone on planet Earth.

  • There are no Jubilee! souvenirs or t-shirts on sale. From a marketing view, souvenirs and t-shirts are one of the most popular items for tourists, and one of the most effective ways to spread the word about the show in distant parts of the country and world.  A show-goer has no memento of the Jubilee! experience, and therefore, it fades in his memory as soon as another experience creates a more immediate memory. If a show-goer had a t-shirt or desk souvenir that could be worn or displayed in the weeks after the show, the memory of the show would be rekindled, the show-goer would likely tell others about it, and maybe make plans to return again. Word-of-mouth would be created, and the show-goer’s friends might put Jubilee! on their lists of things to do in Las Vegas. Nothing (i.e. no souvenirs) leads to nothing, unfortunately.
  • There are no programs. This abolishes any chance of audience members bonding with the cast and show, as programs give information, stories, and up-close images that people relate to and remember. Another lost marketing opportunity.
  • There are no billboards of Jubilee! around town, only two on Bally’s own marquee, and even that is reduced from the previous three. If you are driving eastbound on Flamingo, you see no advertisement for Jubilee! on the Bally’s marquee. There were many years when Jubilee! did not even do taxi cab banners.
  • There are no local TV commercials for the show that this writer has seen, as a member of a moderate TV-watching public.
  • Jubilee! is listed at the bottom of the entertainment show page on  Bally’s website, below every other entertainment offering at Bally’s.  It is listed AFTER “Tony & Tina’s Wedding”, (which isn’t even running); below once-a-week shows “Dancing Just Like the Stars” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show”; and below a singer who imitates other singers and doesn’t even have a national name in the US.  Any PR or marketing person knows that website viewers tend not to scroll to the bottom of pages. So by pushing Jubilee! to the bottom of the page, they are burying it beneath imitators, not-open shows, and once-a-week, low-production knockoffs. This is not the way to promote a multimillion-dollar, world-class show.
  • Jubilee! has made some recent guest appearances on TV talk shows, which is great PR placement. Guess how most of us found out they had happened? Social media postings by the cast.

This lack of, refusal to implement, or ignorance of modern and effective promotional techniques leaves people who care about Jubilee! feeling one thing: that Jubilee! has been abandoned by Caesars.

Jubilee! Opening Act

Hundreds of Beautiful Girls. This could go viral! Oh, wait, it’s not on social media.

Caesars has the amazing opportunity — nay, the responsibility — to keep Las Vegas showgirls alive in the mind and awareness of the public, if they want it to sell tickets. Caesars has a virtual lock on the Las Vegas showgirl – they basically own the brand, as no other show has classic Vegas showgirls wearing $3,000 Bob Mackie costumes. How they have not seen this as an opportunity to take over the image and make it work for them is beyond the comprehension of outside PR professionals. It’s a tragically lost opportunity, in marketing, sales, and to lovers of classic Las Vegas entertainment.

Dear Caesars Marketing/PR Team,

Many people love to see gorgeous, gifted, topless dancers draped in glittering rhinestones tell a story through dance.  So, please let us know that you still have them on stage.

Sincerely,

Everyone in the world

By bringing in the choreographer of a current hip hop/pop celebrity to revamp the show, it seems apparent that Caesars is targeting the Millennial generation as preferred audience members. Which is fine – although it ignores the fact that many Millennials have never learned to appreciate full-length live theatre or elegant performances; they only know Youtube videos and Pussycat Dolls (although Dancing With the Stars is helping with that, somewhat).

Hiring this new choreographer has garnered some news coverage for the show, but mainly within Las Vegas and regional print newspapers and online news.

The best way to find and communicate with Millennials is through social media. That’s where they live.  So, even if Caesars is willing to pay for new choreography and music, their target audience won’t know about it, or learn why they should care, unless Caesars goes to where they hang out. Not print newspapers, not TV news.  Online — in social media.

Since 2010, notably, the fastest growing demographic of Facebook users is senior citizens — people aged 50 and older. This older generation, known as the “Baby Boomers”, appreciates and seeks out classy theatrical productions, and would highly value information about shows like Jubilee!

If social media and innovative branding had been used expediently, years ago, to promote the show, would the image and popularity of showgirls have been resurrected and ticket sales enhanced, without even needing to bring in such drastic changes and cost to the show? Has corporate resistance to new media, and lack of creative thinking, lost Caesars millions of dollars in ticket sales, and squandered the potential title of “home of the real showgirl”?

Jubilee! Disco act

Gorgeous showgirls, dripping in Swarovski crystals, dancing gracefully to Gershwin. Nah, people won’t want t-shirts or souvenirs.

From a marketing and PR standpoint, here are some suggestions for promoting Jubilee!:

  • Team Jubilee! up with “Dancing With The Stars”. It would be great PR for Jubilee! and for DWTS. Bring in guest celebrity/pro duos from DWTS to do Pink & Purple Ballroom, Top Hat, or any act, on a monthly basis, and then actually promote them on your new…
  • …Social media channels.  You should be using all of them. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and more.  Need some help?  Ask any 14-year old.
  • Hotel outdoor wrap advertisement with Jubilee!’s name on it.  Full coverage of the entire Strip-facing side of the hotel. Using Jubilee! showgirls in the current restaurant wrap is nice, but it looks incidental and does not actually promote the show directly.
  • Bring in internationally-known guest artists, who use retro style in their performances, for guest spots.  Justin Timberlake, Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman, Michael Buble, Michael Feinstein, Tommy Tune, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweiger, Richard Gere, Jason Alexander could all be candidates. Brand Jubilee! as THE place for classy, musically-trained pop and movie stars to show their singing and dancing skills. And then, you could mention it on…that’s right! You guessed it correctly…your new social media channels.
  • Hand out free Jubilee! postcards to every audience member as they leave.  People love free things.  They can take photos of it and post it on their Facebook pages.  Then their friends will see what show they went to.  It’s a handy way to control the online image of show. This is called what, Caesars?  Right again!  “free advertising”. Did you also know your PR department can track social media mentions, so you can actually measure how your free advertising is working?  Cool, huh.

Jubilee! is a timeless icon of lush beauty and elegance that speaks across time and cultures.  It is an important cultural institution.  Caesars shouldn’t abandon it without updating — updating the marketing and PR efforts.  It CAN reach a new audience without changing the essence of the show.  Brand it right, promote it smartly, and Caesars will have an irreplaceable money-maker on its hands for a very, very long time.

Disclosure: This writer was a performer in Jubilee!. This writer is near completion of a Masters degree in Media & Communications Psychology from Touro University Worldwide. This writer receives no remuneration for posts to this website.

 
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Posted on February 1, 2014, in Dance, Theater and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Wow. Beautifully written. Social Media is the KEY to Vegas.That’s how clubs keep their dance floors stocked full of girls… They target Instagram photos of hot chicks using #VEGAS!
    Anyways… I agree with the beauty needing to be on social media. I am a new cast member of the show (yipee!), and was just informed that we can’t even take photos with our family in our finale costume. Um… How am I supposed to brag to everyone that I do amazing things with my life if I can’t take a picture?! I asked a stage worker to take a photo of me in a covered outfit and they declined because they were afraid of the repercussions… Ok. There’s something fishy here. Caesar’s should encourage photos! The more we take, the more we post, the more they see!
    Anyways, a lot of the marketing teams have failed Vegas. While working at Coyote Ugly (I know, a huge difference), we didn’t have an instagram either. And us girls had to go out and promote hours prior to our shift starting by passing out flyers.
    Vegas has turned Corporate… you’d think they would learn!

    • Wow, it’s unbelievable that they they are limiting photos. I believe the initial rationale for that, when the show opened, was to prevent other people from copying the costume designs. In this day and age, that seems very unlikely, given the expense and derth of showgirl shows. Caesars continues to miss out on the best, free advertising it could ask for!

  2. Dace Gisclard (Mr.)

    Just saw the show on 8/26/14 and was blown away both by the designs and the high-energy professionalism of the dancers. How long before all of the Strip is given over to the navel-gazing pseudo-profundities of Cirque de Soleil? Would KILL for a video or souvenir booklet. LOVED the Erte-influenced designs. This should NOT be allowed to die, but it looks like that’s what Caesar’s wants.

  3. Caesars doesn’t pay their marketing people enough money to think this rationally. There is probably one person marketing all the properties and getting paid minimum wage to do so.

  4. I have also been puzzled by the minimal marketing that is done for Jubilee! The show is so visually rich – it’s every marketer’s dream. You have good ideas, you’ve been trained in marketing, you communicate well, and you have a close tie to the show from being in it, so you are the ideal person to be the new marketing director of Jubilee! Here are a few of my suggestions to help you.

    The current Jubilee! website is nicer than what was there before, but it’s far from what it could be. At the top of the page should be an area that features one of the showgirls, a new one or two every week. It should have a high-quality, professional photo in costume, along with a caption with her name and role and some details such as how long she’s been in the show, where she studied dance, etc. The same should be posted on the other social media pages simultaneously. This will be a weekly treat for followers and will keep Jubilee! on their minds. This is exactly what I hoped to create on my own humble fan page (@jubileefan1 or http://www.twitter.com/jubileefan1), but I have been unable since only a few cast members have been kind enough to share photos, and I’m outside of the show, so I don’t have many names or details.

    Programs are a great idea. However, I hate having to hold onto a book while watching a show, so do this: Give everybody a postcard when they enter the theater and a free program when they exit. The postcard should have one of 10 or so different photos, and the back should have the website and social media addresses and a few words about the show. It’s something people can look at while waiting for the show to start and let them know to get a program afterward.

    Items in the gift shop are a great idea too. At the top of my list are: a calendar, picture book, posters, nicely framed signed/numbered high quality photos of the show, and T-shirts. The calendars should have photos of one or a few cast members, not full-stage shots. The picture books should be similar to the ones Disney makes for their animated films, but more full page pictures and fewer words. Keep the price to $35 or so. Every piece of merchandise should be high quality and classy.

    The theater entrance could be made a little more grand and inviting too. Nothing over the top, just remove some of the slot machines on the wall and make it a little wider and more lit up. People in the casino should be able to notice it’s there.

    I’m not a big fan of the idea of bringing in other celebrities to draw attention to the show. Jubilee! is capable of generating sell-out crowds on the merit of its own cast. The current approach of PR appearances of a couple showgirls at restaurant grand openings and other Vegas events might get a little attention for the show, but they don’t motivate people to see it. The showgirls are out of their element there, and a key point is these are other organizations’ events. The showgirls need their own venue. Here’s what I propose: Once the Ballys long-deteriorated, non-moving-walkway entrance is torn down, make an area there, right at the Strip, where showgirls appear nightly – in the spotlight! Right after the first show, 5 of them in finale costumes (the white ones especially) are escorted out to this area in the dark, and then the bright spotlights are suddenly turned on, making daylight off of them. They stand there for 30 seconds, and the front one says “Come see us tonight at Jubilee!” Lights shut off immediately, and they are escorted back inside. People will be able to see what those rhinestones and feathers are all about. That’s what will pack the theater. That’s what will showcase the beauty, color, light, and magic of Jubilee!

  5. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve had the pleasure to have worked in Jubilee and it’s predecessor Hallelujah Hollywood as a crew member. I’ve always believed in Jubilee, and feel the connection it has to a better time. Why degrade that fine lady for a lack of marketing.
    Personally, I’m cirqued out!
    Jubilee is a real gem in an ocean of spandex. Don’t drown her.

  6. As a NYC performer I used to come to Vegas often usually only to see JUBILEE!, usually twice in one night! I am truly saddened to see the old show pass on; but saying that, will give the new one a chance. Still, SHAME ON YOU CEASER’s ENTERTAINMENT! You had the Vegas equivilant of NYC’s ROCKETTES and it had years left in it! But the only thing constant is change; so do the new version right!

  7. Amen to all above comments! I have seen Jubilee more than two dozen times over two decades and continually recommend it to friends visiting LV. It ‘is’ Las Vegas and LV should not be abandoned on how it began. A total class show all the way around. I think you have definitely hit upon a major issue ‘marketing’ but if the ‘suits upstairs’ are not interested in the show, I know marketing won’t be allowed. I experienced a similar situation down at the other end of the strip ten years ago. We now live in the world of corporate mentality. Our ART is quickly slipping away for the sake of corporate greed. Shame on Caesars for falling into a similar pattern! My admiration and respect go to all the performers and backstage folk who have done a yeoman’s task in keeping this show attractive. My sincere hope is that something positive will come out of this current situation and/or someone will come along who will recognize and covet this gem.

  8. Your loving mum

    Why does it take an ex-Jubilee dancer to zero in on the problems. Get rid of management and hire PR people who know what they’re doing. The show is a Las Vegas treasure and should be protected as part of its history for generations to enjoy! MMA

  9. Claude Sinclair

    I have seen the show about a dozen times and it never got old or boring. It saddens me that the management of Bally’s or whoever was responsible has closed the show. How someone can expect any show to survive without proper marketing is beyond me. Bring the show back and market it and you will see positive changes.

  10. The same thing happened at “Les Folies Bergere”. Upper management didn’t like the show and they thought they could do better. Fast forward 5 years, all those executives are gone and they still have an empty showroom. When you can’t figure out how to make money on a paid off 49 year old piece of history then you’re in the wrong job.

  11. Andrea I am an Aussie and i visited Vegas several years ago and must say i missed finding out about this show while i was there, although we were looking for traditional showgirls. Your article identifies some really great options just waiting to be used. I hope this has been bought to the attention of someone who can affect change and that it’s not too late because it will be my first choice on my next visit!!! Thank you!

  12. Excellent article!!! Very well thought out and explained! I’ve been saying this for years! NO MARKETING …NO AUDIENCE. They are so dead set against advertising, yet 3 years ago, the hotel spent around $240,000 for new Titanic pier costumes – Each one was $10,000! – And those to be seen for all of two minutes! They’re beautiful, but what a waste, and the hats were so heavy they were causing injury to the necks of some of the girls. Not good allocation of funds.

  13. Exactly!!!!!

  14. They hire performers from around the country, but pay them nothing for travel and relocation. They plan to close the show, but don’t tell any of the employees that started last August that they don’t plan to honor the term of their contracts. They fire a big chunk of the cast, some with over 10 years experience, with 10 days notice.

  15. YOU ARE SO SMART YOU SHOULD BE IN CHARGE OF MARKETING! well said! Lisa Clarson

    • Thank you, Lisa! Jubilee! is such a visual product, it was born to be on social media!

      • Excellent article. Thank you for spelling out the obvious to all of us in the Vegas entertainment industry. Obvious to us, but as you stated, not to the marketing of the most iconic statement and final example of a classic Las Vegas show. I’ve worked with thousands of performers in showrooms all over the world, and still the world finds Las Vegas as the destination for entertainment. Let’s try and keep the one show remaining in Las Vegas that represents the glamour, classic beauty and expertise of the hard working performers, the show’s crew and management that keeps the show in pristine condition for the millions of visitor that come to this town… keep it on stage for people to experience and enjoy without trying too hard to make it fit into a newer generation of what is hip and cool. Keep it true.

      • Thank you, Mistinguett. You are so right about crew and management keeping the show in pristine condition. They are truly unsung heroes!

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