'Hamilton' Chief Marketing Officer Talks Creating a Brand Beyond Broadway

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Bobby Wolff
Kirk Wingerson, EAMC VP of Agenda - Amway Center & Camping World Stadium; Laura Matalon, CMO Hamilton; Sheila Francis, EAMC President – Communications Specialist.

Laura Matalon served as the keynote speaker for the Events and Arena Marketing Conference held in Toronto, Ontario.

At the Events and Arena Marketing Conference on June 13 in Toronto, Hamilton chief marketing officer Laura Matalon asked the ballroom full of marketers the obvious question -- why does a show like Hamilton that consistency sells out need marketing?

“Four years after opening, Hamilton is still the most expensive show to see on Broadway. The show outsells all other Broadway productions, typically grossing between $2-4 million every week and that’s just in New York,” Matalon told the audience.

According to Matalon, marketing for a show like Hamilton that has become a cultural phenomenon is about taking the conversation beyond the stage. The Broadway sensation has productions in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, two additional touring companies traveling throughout North America and recently announced another international run in Australia slated to launch in 2021.

The show’s global reach, according to Matalon’s keynote speech, is amplified by the activations Hamilton has enacted across the nation.

“Over 250,000 high school students studying U.S. history in Title 1 schools will have seen the show for $10 and participated in a customized curriculum by the end of 2020,” Matalon said. “For these high schoolers, this is a rare opportunity to ask advice from a diverse panel of performers and professionals who look like them.”

The Hamilton team is continuing to push educational programming alongside The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History with upcoming online curriculum that will be available for grades six and up through the EduHam platform.

Culturally, the play has reached new heights with top charting songs on the Billboard charts, increasing visitation to historic sites connected with Andrew Hamilton and the cast opened the 2017 Super Bowl with a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

"Hamilton has become one of those rare cultural phenomena that has reached beyond Broadway and has infiltrated the broader conversation," said Matalon.

Matalon’s marketing team has brought the creatives behind the show including Lin-Manuel Miranda into campaigns with non-profits including Get Out the Vote and the Eliza Hamilton Foundation that was established to help young people get into the arts. Miranda also partnered with Steph and Ayesha Curry for the Ham4All challenge that benefited Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition.

The marketing team’s most ambitious effort has been the 35,000 square foot Hamilton exhibition built on Northerly Island in Chicago, which Matalon called possibly “the boldest brand extension ever for a Broadway show.”

"It is a 360-degree immersive exhibition inspired by the musical. It takes visitors deeper into the life and times of Alexander Hamilton while at the same time chronicling the American Revolution and the creation of the United States," said Matalon.

The temporary exhibition opened on April 27 in conjunction with the show’s Chicago run and will relocate with the musical as it heads to other cities. Roughly the size of a football field, the exhibition can accommodate about 400 people per hour with an adult admission ticket costing $39.50 plus fees.

“It is a remarkable achievement and, not surprisingly, the opening garnered international acclaim and attention. This is the first time in Broadway’s history that something like this has been undertaken,” said Matalon. “Working on this exhibition has been an exhilarating, challenging and rewarding ride and, if nothing else, answers why Hamilton needs a CMO.”

Following her speech, Matalon was presented with a $5,000 donation check for The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.